News & AnalysisFALL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION

Megaquake Heightened the Risk to Tokyo

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Science  23 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6063, pp. 1617
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6063.1617-b

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Summary

Every rupturing fault, large or small, passes its accumulated stress on to neighboring faults, so March's magnitude-9 Tohoku earthquake bequeathed a huge amount of stress to faults offshore and across central Japan. Researchers reported at the meeting that the redistributed stress activated distant, long-quiescent faults, the first time that has been recorded. Most disturbingly, the stress instantly raised the risk of a major quake on some faults, including one beneath greater Tokyo and its 30 million people.