2011 Tōhoku Earthquake
Effects of the earthquake
Type Earthquake
Date 11 March 2011
Duration 6 minutes
Magnitude 9.0 (severe)
Depth 30 km
Epicentre 38.322°N, 142.369°E
Foreshocks 7
Aftershocks 10907
Casualties 15887 dead,
6150 injured,
2615 missing

The Tōhoku Earthquake was a magnitude-nine earthquake that struck the northeastern coast of Japan.[1] The earthquake was the fifth-strongest since 1900, and the seventh-largest in recorded history.[2] It also was the strongest to ever be recorded in the Tohoku region, as well as the having the largest fault slip ever in human history.[3]


The earthquake was caused by the subduction of the Pacific tectonic plate under the plate that Japan is on.[4] The fault that lies at the boundary of the two plates is called the Japan trench.

At the Japan trench, the two tectonic plates slipped past each other approximately 5 metres, with other sources saying as far as 80 metres.[4][5] The earthquake occurred as a result of the built-up tension between the two plates, and possibly aided by the lubricating effects of clay from the Pacific plate, which has been dragged to the region where it mets the Philippine and Eurasian plates, where Japan is located.[5][6] This proposed clay lubrication is supported by the fact that, during drilling and sampling to discover anomalies in the cause, engineers and scientists found that the earthquake produced a large amount of heat (ranging from (600o to 1200oC).[5]

This earthquake also triggered a tsunami soon after.[4]


Narrated animation of March 11, 2011 Honshu, Japan tsunami propagation

Narrated animation of March 11, 2011 Honshu, Japan tsunami propagation


The main article for this section is Impact
F1 large

The mainshock (yellow) and a Magnitude 7.9 aftershock (orange)

The earthquake caused the tsunami, which was the third mega earthquake-generated tsunami in the decade, following the Sumatra tsunami and the Chile tsunami.[7] The tsunami in-turn caused the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.

Aside from the tsunami, the earthquake had 10907 aftershocks, most of which contributed to the destruction and damage of buildings and infrastructure.[8]

External Link

A real-time video of seismic sensors


  1. . Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011: Facts and Information ( Livescience. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  2. . Japan quake - hundreds dead in Sendai ( 3 News. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  3. 2013-12-06. Largest Fault Slip Ever Recorded Generated Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami ( Nature World News. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 2013-03-10. How Japan's 2011 Earthquake Happened (Infographic) ( Livescience. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 2013-12-05. The 2011 Japan Tsunami Was Caused By Largest Fault Slip Ever Recorded ( National Geographic. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  6. . Deep-sea study reveals cause of 2011 tsunami: Unusually thin, slippery geological fault found ( ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  7. Nobuhito Mori, Tomoyuki Takahashi, Tomohiro Yasuda and Hideaki Yanagisawa . Survey of 2011 Tohoku earthquake tsunami inundation and run-up ( Geophysical Research Letters. Retrieved July 2014.
  8. . The 2011 Magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake: Mosaicking the Megathrust from Seconds to Centuries ( Sciencemag. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
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