As repair crews continue to sift through the debris left behind by the massive tsunami sparked by the March 11 earthquake, scientists in Japan are also sifting through the tectonic data they have recorded since that day of devastation, looking for clues in order to predict the location of the next big quake. Because Japan sits in the "Ring of Fire," it's really only a question of when, scientists say.
The amount of data has been rather more than they probably wanted, as the aftershocks number in the hundreds of hundreds, including 70 of magnitude 6.0 or greater. The resulting GPS data has revealed an enormous swatch of damage, 250 miles long and 125 miles wide. Also, scientists say that the ground along the Japan Trench between the North American plate and the Pacific plate slipped more than 160 feet, a figure that has alarmed some scientists because it is more than twice the distance of the 2004 Sumatra quake and the 2010 Chile quake, which were 9.4 and 9.0, respectively.
The cleanup continues across a large part of the northeast part of Honshu, Japan's main island. Thousands of people are still homeless, straining resources in temporary shelters. The number of confirmed and suspected dead is nearly 28,000 in total.
The government has confirmed a 50-percent drop in tourism in the month of May, also reinforcing the country's determination to rebuild as efficiently as possible in order to convince visitors to return. The number of people employed in the tourism industry in the island nation is in the millions. The ongoing struggles with radiation in land, water, food, and tea won't help.