Japan Earthquake's Global Impact

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rescue workers search for bodies under an upturned house after the recent tsunami and earthquake in Natori City in Miyage prefecture on March 14, 2011. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty)

Last week’s earthquake off the coast of Japan measured 9.0 magnitude, which makes it the fourth most powerful earthquake on record worldwide. Earth's poles shifted by more than 3 inches, Japan moved 12-13 feet closer to Hawaii, and the earth’s day is now 1.8 microseconds shorter.

Like last year's 8.8 magnitude quake in Chile, this event is responsible for more than just major damage to human infrastructure — the shape and movement of the Earth itself has been altered. For more on how an earthquake can change the geologic course of history, we speak to Arthur Lerner-Lam, Doherty Senior Research Scientist and associate director of seismology geology and tectonophysics at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Robert Hernan, author of "This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the Fifteen Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World" helps contextualize the quake.


Robert Emmet Hernan and Dr. Arthur Lerner-Lam

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

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