Japan’s 8.9 Earthquake “Historic” says Geophysicist

By Caroline Kyungae Smith for The Chicago Tribune

“Japan’s earthquake will be considered a great quake,” said Dale Grant, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. “Japan has never seen this before.”

Any quake above an 8 in magnitude is considered a great quake, Grant said. Damage can span from hundreds to thousands of miles.

The quake was centered about 80 miles east of Japan.

A few days earlier, Japan was hit with a 7.2 earthquake that many are saying was the precursor to today’s quake, he said.

“A 7.2 quake has 80 or 90 times less energy than an 8.9 quake,” he said.

As of 3 a.m., there were at least 12 aftershocks following the earthquake, with the highest aftershocks measuring 7.1 and 6.8, Grant said.

“This is what we’d expecte from an 8.9 earthquake.”

The greater concern is the tsunami that was triggered by the quake, he said. “Tsunamis can travel up to 450 miles per hour,” he said.

“Warnings have been issued for the Hawaiian Islands,” he said. “We’ll probably see an impact.”

The biggest earthquakes in recent history occurred last year in Chile at 8.8 and in 2004 in Indonesia at 9.1, Grant said.

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  1. March 11th, 2011

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