No long-distance risks from mega-quakes says study

Monster earthquakes like the 9.0-magnitude event that occurred off Japan on March 11 are unlikely to trigger a large quake in distant regions of the world, according to a study published on Sunday.

The research — coincidentally published in the wake of the tsunami-generating killer — counters a novel theory that an exceptional quake in one continent can unleash a temblor in another.

Tom Parsons of the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Aaron Velasco of the University of Texas at El Paso cast their net in 30 years of data.

They looked at all earthquakes around the world that were 7.0 magnitude or above and were followed by quakes greater than magnitude 5.0.

Their trawl came up with 205 main shocks, and more than 20,000 hypothetical secondary shocks.

There was a "significant increase" in seismic activity in adjoining areas of the fault, they found.

This confirms beliefs that a big quake places stress on a nearby section of the same fault, which then ruptures, rather like buttons on a shirt that pop off one by one.

Read the rest of the story: AFP: No long-distance risks from mega-quakes: study.

High chance of magnitude-7 or higher quake in Japan in next few days

As Japan scrambles to pick up the pieces from Friday’s magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami, the Kyodo news agency is reporting that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude-7 or greater quake taking place in the next three days.

Kyodo also reports that there is a 50% chance of one hitting in the three days after that.

Japan’s largest earthquake on record may have knocked the planet 3.9 inches off its axis as one crustal plate slid beneath another, Eric Fielding, a principal scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Bloomberg news agency.

Read the rest of the story: Report: High chance of magnitude-7 or higher quake in Japan in coming days.

Bodies in the Hundreds wash ashore in quake-hit Japan

There are just too many bodies. Hundreds of dead have washed ashore on Japan’s devastated northeast coast since last week’s earthquake and tsunami. Others were dug out of the debris Monday by firefighters using pickaxes and chain saws.

Funeral homes and crematoriums are overwhelmed, and officials have run out of body bags and coffins.

Compounding the disaster, water levels dropped precipitously inside a Japanese nuclear reactor, twice leaving the uranium fuel rods completely exposed and raising the threat of a meltdown, hours after a hydrogen explosion tore through the building housing a different reactor.

On the economic front, Japan’s stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda.

While the official death toll rose to nearly 1,900, the discovery of the washed-up bodies and other reports of deaths suggest the true number is much higher. In Miyagi, the police chief has estimated 10,000 deaths in his province alone.

Read the rest of the story: Hundreds of bodies wash ashore in quake-hit Japan.