Japan's Geologists Had the 'Big One' All Wrong

They'd predicted a massive quake southwest of Tokyo
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2011 11:48 AM CST
Japan's Geologists Had the 'Big One' All Wrong
Shores are submerged in Natori city, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, after a ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan's eastern coasts Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

For years, Japan’s scientists have been expecting a giant earthquake, pinpointing its location along a fault line southwest of Tokyo—but today’s disaster defied their forecasts. The country’s biggest earthquake occurred 231 miles northeast of the capital along a different fault, the Washington Post reports. Scientists had gone so far as to name the hypothetical southwestern quake the "Tokai Earthquake." They had also installed strain meters throughout that region, identified expected landslide locations on maps, and shared casualty estimates with officials. Seismic hazard maps assigned a more modest earthquake hazard to the region where the quake actually struck. Click to see photos of the devastation. (More Japan stories.)

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