Huge 7.0 Earthquake Rocks Japan, Triggering Tsunami Warnings

Andrew Follett | Energy and Science Reporter

A  magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Japan Friday, triggering tsunami warning systems.

The earthquake was close to the town of Kumamoto-shi, Japan, the capital city of  Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Aftershocks can occur in hours, days, or weeks after the main quake.

There is no immediate tsunami danger to the West Coast of America, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center. The center issued a warning to authorities in Hawaii, but does not predict a destructive Pacific Ocean wide tsunami.

There have been no injuries or casualties reported yet.

The quake follows a magnitude 6.5 event Thursday that killed at least nine people and caused more than 800 injuries.

Japan is near the Philippine 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 and triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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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