The size of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake need not have been a surprise

Seth Stein*, Emile A. Okal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The devastating 11 March 2011 magnitude 9.1 earthquake along the Tohoku coast of northeastern Japan reminded seismologists again of the adage, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into troubleit's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Many seismologistsand hence disaster plannersthought that such huge earthquakes could not occur on this subduction zone [Chang, 2011; Geller, 2011]. Great earthquakesmagnitude 8were expected and planned for. However, a giant magnitude 9 earthquake, which would release 30 times more energy, was not considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-228
Number of pages2
Issue number27
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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