I guess that it’s simply natural to try to understand the mechanics of the disaster even as we wait to hear about family and loved ones that haven’t been accounted for. What this simulation from the Tsunami Inundation Mapping Efforts project of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows can only be described as mind boggling. (Click on the simulation tab.)
The quake may have also affected the Earth’s rotation.
“According to Richard Gross of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it’s possible that the Earth’s rotation did indeed speed up slightly as a large chunk of the crust fell toward the planet’s core, just as a spinning figure skater speeds up when she pulls in her arms.
‘I used a model of the elastic properties of the Earth along with the seismically determined source properties of the earthquake to compute the change in the distribution of the Earth’s mass caused by the earthquake, and hence its effect on the Earth’s rotation, including the change in the length of the day and in the Earth’s wobble,’ Gross told Explainer in an e-mail. ‘This calculation predicts that the earthquake should have shortened the length of the day by about 2.7 microseconds, and caused the Earth to wobble by about another 1 inch.’
Stuart Sipkin, a research geophysicist who has been studying the quake at the USGS’s National Earthquake Information Center, doesn’t dispute the calculation but urges caution until the model’s projection can be confirmed with observed data. Unfortunately, that’s not possible; according to Gross, current length-of-day measurement techniques are accurate to only 20 microseconds.”