Powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake shakes Japan

Buildings swayed in Tokyo on this New Year’s Day 2012 as a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck in the ocean near Japan.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has reported a magnitude 6.8 earthquake in southern Japan on Sunday January 1, 2012 at approximately 5:28 UTC (12:28 p.m. CST in the central U.S.). There have been no reports of damage or casualties so far, and no tsunami warning was issued.

Here are the particulars of the quake:

Region: IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
Geographic coordinates: 31.416N, 138.155E
Magnitude: 6.8 M
Depth: 348 km
Universal Time (UTC): 1 Jan 2012 05:27:54
Time near the Epicenter: 1 Jan 2012 14:27:54

Location with respect to nearby cities:
241 km (150 miles) SW (220 degrees) of Hachijo-jima, Izu Islands, Japan
368 km (228 miles) S (173 degrees) of Hamamatsu, Honshu, Japan
395 km (245 miles) SSE (157 degrees) of Tsu, Honshu, Japan
495 km (308 miles) SSW (198 degrees) of TOKYO, Japan

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said buildings swayed in Tokyo, which, as the above data shows, was 495 km (308 miles) from the quake’s epicenter. It also said the quake measured 4 in central Tokyo, Fukushima and their surrounding areas on the Japanese intensity scale, which measures ground motion.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power said there were no reports of any abnormalities at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plan following the quake.

Japan, located along the Pacific “ring of fire,” is one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Many media sources this morning are saying that the country accounts for about 20% of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater (I’m not sure where that figure came from).

Northeastern Japan was devastated on March 11, 2011 by a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Bottom line: a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off the coast of southern Japan on January 1, 2012. There are no reports of injuries or damages and no tsunami warning has been issued.

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Deborah Byrd

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