Red coloring indicates areas of 40 meters' slip

In yesterday’s article we looked at a comparison of the Sendai earthquake and the fountains of the deep bursting forth at the time of the Genesis Flood.  Today, we are going to take a little closer look at the magnitude of this earthquake and again relate it to the Genesis Flood.

Initially, it was reported that the Sendai earthquake was registered as having a magnitude of 8.9.  Sources are now reporting that this was a 9.0 magnitude quake designated as M9.0.  Many people may not think that there is much difference between M8.9 and M9.0, but let me assure you that the difference is tremendous. 

Today, most seismologists use the moment magnitude scale to measure the size of an earthquake.  The moment magnitude scale calculates the size of an earthquake based upon the rigidity of the earth, the amount of movement that took place and the size of the area affected.  Like the older Richter scale, the moment magnitude scale is a logarithmic scale which means an M9.0 earthquake is 10 times greater than an M8.0 quake rather than being only 1 times greater in magnitude.  This would mean that an M9.0 would be twice as powerful as an M8.9 quake. 

To help relate to the amount of energy released in an earthquake, a comparison to the amount of dynamite (TNT) required to cause an equivalent energy released is sometimes used.  Here is a comparison of some of the more recent larger earthquakes.

Location                      Magnitude         TNT Equivalent

Christchurch, NZ                M6.3                 43 kilotons    (           43,000 tons)

Haiti                                      M7.0               474 kilotons    (         474,000 tons)

Sendai, Japan                      M9.0               474 megatons (474,000,000 tons)

Based upon these comparisons, the Sendai earthquake was 1000 times larger than the one that hit Haiti and nearly 11,000 times greater than the one that hit Christchurch.

Generally, a moderate to major earthquake results from the rupture along a 300 kilometers (186 miles) to 400 kilometers (248 miles) section of the fault.  In 2004, the M9.1 quake that hit Sumatra occurred along nearly 1300 kilometers (808 miles) of fault line. 

Dr. Chen Ji of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been studying the Sendai quake in hopes of discovering what made it so powerful.  His preliminary findings have been quite interesting.  According to Dr. Ji, the Sendai quake may have involved an area of only 300 to 400 kilometers long by 100 kilometers (62 miles) wide.  The intensity of the quake, however, was the result of one tectonic plate slipping 40 meters (131 feet) beneath another tectonic plate.  The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has estimated a movement of only 20 meters (66 feet). 

According to most experts this is the largest fault movement the world has ever seen.  They also said that the stress released at this relatively small section of the fault was most likely transferred both north and south, increasing the stress conditions elsewhere along the fault. 

The largest fault movement the world has ever seen?  I don’t think so.  Recall yesterday’s article’s comparison of the Sendai quake to the catastrophic break up of a supercontinent at the time of the Genesis Flood.  Tectonic plates the size of today’s continents rapidly splitting apart and moving across the earth’s mantle.  If the Sendai quake only involved a few hundred miles of plates slipping a mere 66-131 feet imagine thousands of miles of plates moving hundreds and even thousands of miles apart. 

It definitely should make you stop and think a little bit more when read 2 Peter 3:6 that states:

And that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.



DuHamel, Jonathan, The Measure of an Earthquake, Tucson Citizen, March 14, 2011.

Moment Magnitude Scale, Wikipedia, March 14, 2011.

Reilly, Michael, Japan Quake Fault May have Moved 40 Metres, New Scientist, March 12, 2011.

USGS Earthquake Magnitude Policy, United States Geological Survey,

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