Great quake one of the biggest ever in Japan

Magnitude-8.9 tremor will go down in seismology’s record books

By Alexandra Witze, 09:13 AM March 11, 2011

The magnitude-8.9 quake that struck off Japan’s coast on March 11 is the largest in the country's recorded history.

Even if its magnitude is downgraded in the coming days, as sometimes happens as more data are analyzed, the quake will remain a benchmark in a country that has seen many major quakes. It ranks fifth on the list of biggest quakes this past century. The Indonesian earthquake that spawned 2004’s devastating Indian Ocean tsunami was a magnitude 9.1. 


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