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Caltech: Coast of Japan moved about 8 feet

March 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Scientists at the Caltech seismology lab are studying the Japan quake to see what we can learn. During a news conference Friday afternoon, seismologists said the temblor was the largest in Japan's history, and the fifth largest ever recorded in the world.

Seismologists said they expect to learn a great deal from the powerful quake because Japan has one of the most extensive seismic GPS networks in the world.

The shaking lasted nearly five minutes, according to the experts at Caltech.

"The entire coast of Japan moved eastward by about 8 feet at the most," said Dr. Ken Hudnut of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The powerful earthquake triggered a 23-foot tsunami along the coast of Japan. Seismologists say to get a tsunami that big, a large amount of water has to be moved.

Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey said it was similar to the deadly tsunami in Thailand in 2004, which, according to their calculations, was the equivalent of water in 20 Great Salt Lakes.

The experts say it was a subduction earthquake in Japan, which is not something Southern California was likely to ever experience because of vastly different fault lines.

Jones said there was about 1,000 times more energy in Japan than there was in the Northridge quake.

Authorities say it is Japan's strict building codes and that helped limit the damage and save more lives from being lost.