Japan Earthquake Not the "Big One"?
Megaquake long predicted—but in totally different region.
Not because the magnitude 9 earthquake wasn't big, but because it was in the wrong place. (See Japan earthquake and tsunami pictures.)
Seismologists have long predicted that the big one would probably be a repeat of the 1923 Kanto earthquake, which occurred in a dangerous fault zone close to Tokyo and killed an estimated 142,000 people.
(Related: "Earthquake Fault Under Tokyo Closer Than Expected, Study Finds.")
Japan is a tectonically complex zone where three major plates, the Pacific plate, the Okhotsk plate, and the Philippine plate are all ramming into each other. (Learn more about tectonic plates.)
The 1923 earthquake—estimated to have had a magnitude of between 7.9 and 8.4—came from the collision