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New Work Reinforces Megaquake's Harsh Lessons in Geoscience

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Science  20 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6032, pp. 911
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6032.911

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Summary

The moment the Tohoku-Oki earthquake struck off northern Japan on 11 March, many researchers knew their expectations had been shattered. The great offshore fault could not be counted on to behave at all predictably. And using onshore observations to gauge whether an offshore fault is building toward failure has grave limitations. Now three papers published online this week in Science help show why the inevitable release of seismic energy failed to play out as expected and why monitoring from afar fell short. The papers also point to a possible huge quake to the south, closer to Tokyo. Seismologists are concerned, but they are also now acutely aware of their limitations.

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