Visualizing Devastation

This week marked the second anniversary of a terrible natural disaster, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. We watched the destruction unfold on television, hoping the friends we had in Japan were safe. It was absolutely heartbreaking and stunning to watch.

This earthquake was the 5th most powerful ever recorded (smaller than the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and the 1964 Alaska quake), and had massive after-shocks for months. Here is a very well done visualization that shows all the seismic activity around Japan in 2011

I watched this probably 4 times. It's brilliant and sobering. At first the subtle noises associated with each 'quake seem silly and unremarkable. When March 11 hits everything changes, and you're drawn in by sound, the sight, the movement...

The yellow line is the cumulative number of earthquakes per day. Before the big event the line is straight, a roughly constant background of small quakes that are always present  in the ring of fire. By the end of the video, this line still hasn't gone back down to the normal flat line, indicating the rate of earthquakes per day is still much higher than before.

All I can say is wow. A beautiful visualization of a terrible disaster.

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