Massive 8.9 Magnitude Japan Quake Generates Huge Whirlpool

Posted on March 11, 2011

The massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit off the coast of northeast Japan a few hours ago also generated an enormous whirlpool in addition to the enormous tsunami waves that destroyed vehicles, homes and farmland. A boat can be seen near the center of the whirlpool. The BBC also has a video of the whirlpool here.

LiveScience spoke with University of Washington seismologist Ruth Ludwin about the larget post-tsunami whirlpool. Ludwin says they are probably a regular occurrence after large tsunamis like the one that hit Japan.

Ludwin also says, "Whirlpools have a big impact on the human imagination. They're very notable and very frightening. But from the perspective of the geological record, they don't leave any particular sign that has been recognized so far."

There were also post-tsunami whirlpools reported after the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004. One survivor even found themselves trapped in a sort of whirlpool after the tsunami.

Here is the whirlpool video. Take a look: