Earthquake in Japan: A wave of destruction

Friday's massive earthquake triggered a powerful tsunami that devastated the coastline north of Tokyo.

The earthquake triggered a 23-foot tsunami that devastated the northeast coast
of the country, leaving at least 1,000 dead and many more missing.

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Video: Miyako

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Video: Tohoku

Video: Kamaishi

Video: Kesennuma, Miyagi

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Video: Minami Sanriku

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Video: Aoba-ku, Sendai

Video: Sendai airport

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Video: Ageo, Saitama

Video: Matsudo City, Chiba

Video: Shinjuku, Tokyo

Video: Suginami, Tokyo

Video: Koto Ward

Video: Tokyo Tower

Video: Chiba Prefecture

Video: Odawara Civic Hall, Kanagawa

*Per square kilometer. SOURCE: U.S. Geological Survey, Japanese National Police Agency.
GRAPHIC: Kat Downs, Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso, Laris Karklis, Mark Luckie, Alicia Parlapiano, Gene Thorp and Karen Yourish - The Washington Post. Updated March 29, 2011

Anatomy of the earthquake

As huge tectonic plates in the earth's surface constantly grind against each other, jagged edges often lock together until pressure builds enough to jar them apart. On Friday, a chunk of the Pacific plate, which normally creeps westward under Japan at about three inches per year, practically leaped forward — up to 59 feet, according to USGS modeling. This quick jolt thrust undersea land upward, causing the earthquake and tsunami.

tectonic plates

GRAPHIC: Patterson Clark and Bonnie Berkowitz - The Washington Post. Published March 11, 2011.

Japan's nuclear emergency

Damage at nuclear plants made leaking radiation the primary threat facing a country just beginning to grasp the scale of devastation from the earthquake and tsunami.

Recent quakes in Japan

Japan is one of the most active seismic areas in the world. More than a thousand earthquakes of 4.0 magnitude or greater have struck in and around the country since 2009.

More Earthquake coverage