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Japan quake location a surprise

Biggest ruptures predicted for island's southern half

5:01pm, March 16, 2011

Japan has been expecting and preparing for the “big one” for more than 30 years. But the magnitude-9.0 temblor that struck March 11 — the world’s fourth biggest quake since 1900 — wasn’t the catastrophe the island nation had in mind.  The epicenter of the quake was about 80 miles east of the city Sendai, in a strip of ocean crust previously thought unlikely to be capable of unleashing such energy.

“This area has a long history of earthquakes, but [the Sendai earthquake] doesn’t fit the pattern,” says Harold Tobin, a m

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