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Japan Earthquake Shifts Seafloor by 79 Feet

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05/20/2011 03:42 PM
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Japan Earthquake Shifts Seafloor by 79 Feet
Earthquake slip is the largest ever recorded.

Japan's seabed shifted by as much as 79 feet (24 meters) in an east-west motion during the giant March 11 earthquake—the largest earthquake movement ever recorded, scientists say.

(See 20 unforgettable pictures of the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.)

But that doesn't mean that it's the largest such shift ever to have been caused by an earthquake, cautioned Chris Goldfinger, director of the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University.

The March earthquake was, however, the first time that scientists have directly measured such a slippage thousands of feet of underwater.

"Any magnitude 9 earthquake will have similar values," said Goldfinger, who was not part of the study team.

For instance, the 2004 Sumatra earthquake may have moved the seabed by as much as 100 feet (30 meters), he said by email.

(Related: "Japan Earthquake Shortened Days, Increased Earth's Wobble.")

GPS Technology Tracks Fault Movements

more [link to news.nationalgeographic.com]