News & AnalysisJapan Disaster

Devastating Earthquake Defied Expectations

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Science  18 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6023, pp. 1375-1376
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6023.1375

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Summary

Even for a nation inured to temblors and bracing for the Big One, last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami were beyond imagination. Experts, too, were caught off-guard. The earthquake's astonishing power and unexpected location also expose the futility of forecasting where and when the next Big One will hit, geophysicists say. Even in a country as extensively instrumented and thoroughly studied as Japan, major quakes always seem to be the ones that were not expected.

* With reporting by Richard A. Kerr and Sara Reardon.

  • * With reporting by Richard A. Kerr and Sara Reardon.