It may take decades, but long after all the debris is removed, homes are rebuilt and life returns to some degree of normalcy in Japan, the legacy of the Sendai earthquake will remain deep within the earth, geologically, and even within the very structure of the universe.

And, so it is for much of the physical environment we live in, which has been shaped by a myriad of such events, whether horrific or unnoticed.  Little consolation to the bereaved, but perhaps humbling to those outside the Japan earthquake zone.  

The New York Times
March 13, 2011
Quake Moves Japan Closer to U.S. and Alters Earth’s Spin
By Kenneth Chang

The magnitude-8.9 earthquake that struck northern Japan on Friday not only violently shook the ground and generated a devastating tsunami, it also moved the coastline and changed the balance of the planet.
Global positioning stations closest to the epicenter jumped eastward by up to 13 feet.
Japan is “wider than it was before,” said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey.
Meanwhile, NASA scientists calculated that the redistribution of mass by the earthquake might have shortened the day by a couple of millionths of a second and tilted the Earth’s axis slightly.

For the complete story, see

Two useful links for those interested in finding someone in Japan, or in following the crisis as it unfolds.

To find a person or leave information about someone who is safe:

For maps, links to blogs, Twitter, news, emergency telephone numbers and more:

Note that each page can be translated into English or Japanese by clicking on the appropriate language box at the top of the page.

If you want to donate to relief efforts, here’s a list of recognized organizations:

We have a nephew living in Japan and are happy to report he has checked in via Facebook and, so far, is fine. 

Two very interesting stories about the Chile earthquake. First, an op-ed: 

In Chile, Life Between the Tremors
Santiago, Chile

IN Santiago, we feel both lucky and guilty to have been stricken with an earthquake registering 8.0 instead of an 8.8, as it was in Maule and Bío-Bío to the south. Still, most people now keep a glass of water close by as a makeshift seismometer, to see if the rumbles they keep feeling are real or imagined.

We are as shattered as the windows and mirrors that tumbled when that 300-mile fault tore open in the middle of a late-summer night. People are shaking, living in a daze of anxiety, sadness, exhilaration, gossip and a tremendous need to connect with one another and feel that the quake is over.

It is not.

Not all the country is down. Friends got together in cracked buildings with no power for Sunday lunch with not-so-cold chardonnay, to swap stories from the front. People lined up at the local hot dog franchise, reading sold-out editions of all the local papers.

For the rest of this beautifully written witness to disaster, go to

Second, scientists looks at the geologic importance of the event. Hold on to your hats for this one: 

Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth
By Staff
posted: 02 March 2010
10:02 am ET

The massive 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile may have changed the entire Earth's rotation and shortened the length of days on our planet, a NASA scientist said Monday.

The quake, the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history, hit Chile Saturday and should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 milliseconds, according to research scientist Richard Gross at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth's axis," NASA officials said in a Monday update.

The story continues, at