Japan Moved, And So Did We

Japan moved during the earthquake and the aftershocks, of course, but the main island has shifted eight feet, a movement that has been verified by the fact that a GPS station moved that much and is consistent with the movement of a large landmass. Wow, that was some earthquake! The article I’m reading doesn’t say in which direction the main island shifted. I’ll have to dig some more to find out.

Not only did Japan move, but it seems the earth’s axis is now four inches out of whack. To me, this is a more interesting phenomenon than moving a single island, no matter how large. Back in the day, when I was in college and studying climatology, the tilt of the earth’s axis was a topic for endless discussion. Even way back then, there were people making noises about “global warming,” or climate change, as it’s now called. Everyone knows that the earth has warmed up and cooled down throughout it’s history, but no one knows exactly why this happens. Oh, there are lots of theories. Back then there were many questions about the sun’s energy, about the inconsistencies of earth’s orbit around the sun, and so forth.  And then there were big debates going on about the wobble of earth’s axis and how this might account for climate changes. It seems the tip of the northern axis, though imaginary, which now points toward Polaris, doesn’t always. From time to time, the earth has a different north star. Sometimes it’s Vega.

Ah, this news just in from the “Times of India,” newsfeed, and I quote, ” The earthquake-cum-tsunami packed such fury that it has moved Japan’s main island, Honshu, by about 8 feet. It’s also caused the Earth’s axis to wobble by about 4 inches – something that experts say will lead to the shortening of the day by 1.6 microseconds, or just over a millionth of a second.”  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Earths-axis-wobbles-your-days-shorter/articleshow/7689494.cms

So there you have it. We didn’t just lose an hour this weekend due to daylight savings time, we also lost a millionth of a second, thanks to the earthquake in Japan.  Enjoy your day. It’s shorter than you think…



About M.J.Deare

I am a writer, actively researching topics of interest. I am also a graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with a degree in English, and have a master's degree from the University of Memphis. Born in New Orleans, I lived there until moving to northwest Arkansas and from there to Memphis, Tennessee. My husband and I currently reside in The Woodlands, Texas.
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3 Responses to Japan Moved, And So Did We

  1. Derrick Doubrava says:

    I was wondering after hearing of this movement what changes have ocurred in elevation. What affect would be expected to stream and river flows not to mention basic drainage for roadways and agriculture.

    • Excellent and important questions! I’ll do some digging this afternoon and see what information is available. With such powerful aftershocks still occurring, the situation may still be in somewhat of a flux. This is truly a major geological event in our lifetimes. It’s not every day that we witness massive changes to the earth’s crust that happen in the blink of an eye! Amazing stuff. I’ll see what I can find out for you about elevation changes and water-flow, etc.

    • After much searching, I finally emailed a scientist at the USGS in Colorado, and he was kind enough to email back with the following information. Sorry I don’t have anything on river flows or drainage issues yet, but here is what I found out today:

      First Japan shifted towards North America (eastward). Japan deformed during the earthquake so the east coast of Japan moved a lot more than the west coast. Yes also to the elevation issue. The east coast of Honshu dropped a few feet, again variable with location (not all of Japan dropped). This would have contributed to the inundation since the coast dropped before the tsunami reached shore.

      So it seems that at least along the coast, Japan lost elevation, and the main island actually shifted eastward, which was a question I had personally. My thanks to Dr. David Wald for his speedy and informative reply. Hope this information is helpful to you. Thank you for your inquiry.

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