Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 2011: Discover how They Changed the World’s Equilibrium

How did the huge Japan Earthquale and tsunami change the world? Discover seven amazing and scary ways how they changed the world!

Back in 2011 a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Tohoku region of Japan, setting of a devastating tsunami that wreaked havoc on the Japanese coast and reached all the way across the Pacific Ocean. It was the biggest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history and the fourth biggest quake in the recorded history of the planet.

The effects of the quake weren’t limited to Japan and they weren’t confined to the shaking of the earth and the setting off of ocean waves. The earthquake’s energy reached around the world to Antarctica and high into the Earth’s atmosphere, even altering the local pull of Earth’s gravity field.

1. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Sea floor cracksand fissures

The earthquake ruptured off the coast of Japan, below the sea floor. The force of the quake ripped open parts of the ocean floor, and pushed some sections up (the mechanism that created the tsunami).

sea cracks after japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Oddest effects of 2011 Japan's Earthquake: Large seafloor cracks, sea cracks, sea cracks formation, sea cracks formation japan earthquake, sea cracks formation after japan earthquake, scary effects of japan earthquake
This 8-inch-wide (20 cm) crevasse was created by the Japan’s earthquake of 2011. It stretches for at least tens of meters and is at a depth of 10, 558 feet (3,218 m). Photo: Norio Miyamoto, JAMSTEC

The cracks in the seafloor, seen and studied by manned submersibles, are around 3-to-6-feet (around 1-to-3-meters) across and some 10,500-to-17,500-feet (3,200-to-5,350-meters) below the ocean’s surface. (Source)

2. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Earthquake swarms around the globe

The massive earthquake didn’t only trigger shaking in Japan, it also likely set off micro-quakes and tremors around the globe, mostly in places already known for their seismic activity. The shaking set off in these events likely didn’t exceed magnitude 3.
The list of places affected included southwest Japan, Taiwan, the Aleutians and mainland Alaska, Vancouver Island in Canada, Washington state, Oregon, central California and the central United States as shown in this article.

3. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Antarctic ice stream speed up

Incredible but true: the 2011 Japan Earthquake sped up Antarctic ice stream of the Whillans glacier. This was detected by GPS stations located on the ice. Normally, the glacier slides only about 3 feet (1 meter) per day, but in a strong slip event, such as the one triggered by the earthquake, it can rapidly move about 1.5 feet (0.5 m) as shown here.

4. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Break up of Antarctic icebergs

The earthquake and its resulting tsunami were so powerful that they also broke off huge icebergs from the Sulzberger Ice Shelf in Antarctica. 

Strangest effects of 2011 Japan's Earthquake: Break up of Antarctic icebergs, The Japan earthquake broke up large icebergs in Antarctica
The Japan earthquake broke up large icebergs in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

About 18 hours after the earthquake occurred, those waves broke off several chunks of ice that together equaled about two times the surface area of Manhattan. According to historical records, this particular piece of ice hadn’t budged in at least 46 years before the tsunami came along as explained in this article.

5. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Rattled Atmosphere

The massive earthquake not only shook the earth, but also the atmosphere. The Japan earthquake generated the largest such atmospheric disturbances seen yet, creating ripples in electrically charged particles reaching nearly 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth as shown in this article.

6. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Ateration of gravity

The earthquake was so powerful that it altered the pull of gravity under the area affected by the quake as recorded by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.

Strangest effects of 2011 Japan's Earthquake: Alteration of gravity, The 2011 Japan earthquake altered local gravity, The 2011 Japan earthquake altered local gravity. Red corresponds to points with higher gravity and blue to points with lower gravity.

Photo:ESA

The quake slightly thinned the crust, causes a slight reduction in the local gravity field.

7. Strangest effects of 2011 Japan’s Earthquake: Days short cut

An analysis conducted just days after the earthquake struck found that the temblor accelerated Earth’s spin, shortening the length of the 24-hour day by 1.8 microseconds.  The planet’s rotation sped up because the earthquake shifted the distribution of Earth’s mass.

See here a sound video of Japan Earthquake and building spawing.

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