The Japanese earthquake and tsunami that may have killed 10,000 people will spark more Pacific temblors for years to come and yield data that will erase some of the mystery of the Earth’s crust, scientists said.
Pressure levels changed on the undersea plates extending 500 kilometers to the east and west of the epicenter, likely provoking aftershocks “for a long time,” said Eric Fielding, a principal scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Pasadena, California, research group is using data from Japan to help scientists forecast follow-on shifts in crustal plates.
Japan’s largest quake on record, which hurled a 7-meter (23-foot) wave landward after one plate slid beneath another off the coast of Sendai, had an 8.9 magnitude. The aftershocks will likely include at least one measuring 8 and 10 of magnitude 7, JPL geophysicist Andrea Donnellan said. All are many times larger than the 6.3-level New Zealand quake in February that leveled the Christchurch business district and killed 160.
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