Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The massive earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan ranks as the fifth largest in the world since 1900, scientists said. The magnitude-8.9 "megathrust" quake is similar to what happened during the 2004 Sumatra quake that spawned a killer tsunami and the earthquake last year in Chile. In all these cases, one tectonic plate is shoved beneath another.

Such earthquakes are responsible for the most powerful shifts in the Earth's crust. Japan is at particular risk, sitting in the "Ring of Fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching around the Pacific where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur.

"The energy radiated by this quake is nearly equal to one month's worth of energy consumption" in the United States, said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Brian Atwater. More than 80 aftershocks greater than magnitude-5 have been felt since the Japanese rupture — a number that scientists say is normal for a quake this size.

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

1. Houses swallowed by tsunami waves burn in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

2. A tsumani triggered by a powerful earthquake makes its way to sweep part of Sendai airport in northern Japan on Friday March 11, 2011. The magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan's eastern coast Friday, unleashing a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

3. Sendai Airport is surrounded by waters in Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, after a ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan's eastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

4. Evacuees stand around Shinjuku Central Park in Tokyo Japan March 11, 2011. A massive 8.9 magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing many injuries, fires and a ten-metre (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline. A tsunami warning has been issued for the entire Pacific basin except for the mainland United States and Canada following a huge earthquake that hit Japan on Friday, the Pacific (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

5. Light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport in northern Japan. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

6. Houses are swept by a tsunami in Natori City in northeastern Japan March 11, 2011. A massive 8.9 magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing many injuries, fires and a ten-metre (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline. There were several strong aftershocks and a warning of a 10-metre tsunami following the quake, which also caused buildings to shake violently in the capital Tokyo. (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

7. A massive tsunami sweeps in to engulf a residential area after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan. (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

8. Reporters at the Associated Press Tokyo Bureau in Tokyo take shelter under a table while a strong earthquake strikes eastern Japan. (Itsuo Inouye/Assoctiated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

9. People take shelter as a ceiling collapses in a bookstore during an earthquake in Sendai, northeastern Japan March 11. (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

10. Tsunami swirls near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

11. Seismologists pose for the media as they display a seismographic graph showing the magnitude of the earthquake in Japan, on a monitor at the British Geological Survey office in Edinburgh, Scotland March 11, 2011. The biggest earthquake on record to hit Japan struck the northeast coast on Friday, triggering a 10-metre tsunami that swept away everything in its path, including houses, ships, cars and farm buildings. (David Moir/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

12. An energy map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the intensity of the tsunami caused by the magnitude 8.9 earthquake which struck Japan on March 11, 2011. A tsunami warning has been issued for the entire Pacific basin except mainland United States and Canada following a huge earthquake that hit Japan on Friday, the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The warning includes Hawaii and extends from Mexico down to South American countries on the Pacific, the center said. (NOAA/Tsunami Warning Center/)#

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

13. This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Global bathymetry map image released on March 11, 2011 shows features of the ocean floor depth (or bathymetry) from a NOAA ETOPO-1 dataset. The image shows the entire Western Pacific basin. Notice how abruptly the Japanese islands rise out of the ocean. Other coastal Asian areas have much more gradual slopes. The islands and mountain ranges throughout the ocean, visible in this imagery, also affect the tsunami travel time and speed. In the open ocean, tsunamis can travel at speeds up to 500 mph (800 kph). This momentum is what creates such a destructive force as the wave moves inland. Tsunami waves rolled thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean after a massive earthquake off Japan and washed ashore in Hawaii early March 11, 2011, but the tourist hotspot appeared to escape major damage. As sirens blared and Hawaiian authorities rapidly evacuated low-lying areas, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported wave changes at Waianae Harbor at around 3:24 a.m. (NOAA/handout)#

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

14. A building is in flames near Sendai airport, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, after a powerful earthquake, the largest in Japan's recorded history, slammed the eastern coasts Friday, March 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

15. A helmeted man walks past the rubbles and a burning building after a powerful earthquake, the largest in Japan's recorded history, slammed the eastern coasts in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

16. Giant fireballs rise from a burning oil refinery in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

17. An oncoming tsunami strikes the coast in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan March 11, 2011. The biggest earthquake to hit Japan in 140 years struck the northeast coast on Friday, triggering a 10-metre tsunami that swept away everything in its path, including houses, cars and farm buildings on fire. (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

18. Earthquake-triggered tsumanis sweep shores along Iwanuma in northern Japan. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

19. Fishing boats and vehicles are carried by a tsunami wave at Onahama port in Iwaki city, in Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan. (Fukushima Minpo/AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

20. A tsunami, tidal wave smashes vehicles and houses at Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan. (AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

21. Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan (center) reacts he he feels an earthquake as he attends a committee meeting in the upper house of parliament in Tokyo March 11. A massive 8.8 magnitude quake hit the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital Tokyo, causing "many injuries", at least one fire and triggering a four-metre (13-ft) tsunami, NHK television and witnesses reported. (Toro Hanai/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

22. The owner of a ceramic shop checks his damaged wares following the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Tokyo. (Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

23. Broken windows of a building are seen after an earthquake in Tokyo , March 11, 2011. A massive 8.9 magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing many injuries, fires and a ten-metre (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline. (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

24. Rescue workers hurry to a building following reports of injuries in Tokyo's financial district after an earthquake hit off the coast of northern Japan. There were several strong aftershocks and a warning of a 10-metre tsunami following the quake, which also caused buildings to shake violently in the capital Tokyo. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

25. An aerial shot shows vehicles ready for shipping being carried by a tsunami tidal wave at Hitachinaka city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011. A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake shook Japan, unleashing a powerful tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns. (AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

26. This aerial shot shows the tsunami tidal waves moving upstream (left side) in the Naka river at Hitachinaka city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11. (AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

27. Houses, cars and other debris are washed away by tsunami tidal waves in Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday, March 11. (Keichi Nakane/Associated Press/The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

28. Houses swept by a tsunami smoulder near Sendai Airport. (Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

29. Stranded commuters wrap themselves in blankets bracing for chilly evening at a park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, following a strong earthquake hit eastern Japan on Friday, March 11. (Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

30. A woman checks a map to find a route as she takes a rest at a hotel lobby after subway and train services were suspended after an earthquake, in Tokyo. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

31. Evacuees wait in an evacuation area following an earthquake in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by its strongest earthquake on record, an 8.9-magnitude temblor that shook buildings across Tokyo and unleashed a seven-meter-high tsunami that killed hundreds as it engulfed towns on the northern coast. (Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

32. A man looks for supplies in a store in Tokyo that has almost sold out of food and drink as people are unable to return home after an earthquake March 11. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

33. Hotel employees squat down in horror at the hotel's entrance in Tokyo after a strong earthquake hit Japan. (Itsuo Inouye/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

34. Stranded commuters watch a TV news on a powerful earthquake at Tokyo railway station as train services are suspended in Tokyo. (Hiro Komae/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

35. Residents check the damaged done on a road a house in Sukagawa city, Fukushima prefecture, in northern Japan. (Fukushima Minpo/AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

36. Workers inspect a caved-in section of a prefectural road in Satte, Saitama Prefecture, after one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Japan slammed its eastern coast March 11. (Saitama Shimbun/Associated Press/Kyodo News)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

37. A station staff directs passengers at Tokyo's Shinagawa train station after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan's eastern coast. (Hiro Komae/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

38. Puipui Faletoi, of Moiliili, Oahu, background center, rests in his vehicle with his sons Daniel, left, and Fletcher Faletoi in the parking lot of Manoa District Park in Oahu, Hawaii. The site is a volunteer staging area which could turn into a Red Cross shelter if a tsunami arrives. The Faletoi family plan to take shelter here. (Rebecca Breyer/Associated Press)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

39. Police place roadside flares along the highway on March 11 in Honolulu, Hawaii. An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale has hit the northeast coast of Japan causing tsunami alerts throughout the Pacific Ocean. Thousands along the coast are evacuating their homes in Hawaii as the state prepares for tsunami waves. (Lucy Pemoni/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

40. Students hold candles as they pray for Japan's earthquake victims inside their school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad March 11. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

41. A pedestrian road collapsed in the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Urayasu city, Chiba prefecture on March 11. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

42. A man sits wrapped in a blanket after he was evacuated from a building in Tokyo's financial district, after an earthquake off the coast of northern Japan, March 11. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction In Pictures

43. Shores are submerged in Natori city, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, after a ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, slammed Japan's eastern coasts Friday, March 11, 2011. (Kyodo News)

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