Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Rocks Japan, Triggering Tsunami Warnings

REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 struck off the coasts of Japan and Korea, sending tsunami warnings in its wake Friday.

The earthquake triggered a small tsunami according to data from the Japan Meteorological Agency and briefly activated the country’s tsunami alert system. There is no immediate tsunami danger to the coastline of the United States according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

No damage or injuries have been reported as the earthquake’s epicenter was located 144 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Makurazaki, Japan according to data from the United States Geological Survey. This area is near the Philliphine sea plate, a highly active tectonic plate boundary which extends along both sides the Philippine Islands up to Japan.

This particular tectonic plate  has been associated with several major earthquakes in the past. The most noticeable event was the magnitude 7.6 Moro Gulf earthquake of 1976, which created a tsunami that killed more than 5,000  people.

In 2011, the massive magnitude 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake caused a tsunami that left more than 18,000 people dead or missing in north-eastern Japan.

Earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale, and the difference between whole numbers on the scale is large. A 9.0 quake can devastate a country, while a 7.0 quake generally would only result in comparatively light damage.  A quake that registers 7.0 on the Richter scale releases 961 times less energy and has a shaking amplitude 100 times smaller than that of a 9.0 quake.

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