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In February 2011, the world watched in horror as Japan experienced one of the greatest natural disasters of modern times. A magnitude 9 earthquake near the northwest coast of the island nation spawned a tsunami that ravaged the Japanese coastline. Entire towns were wiped off the map, and tsunami defenses were rendered useless by a massive shift in the earth's tectonic plates that lowered the coastline by three feet. As a modern, industrial nation, the Japanese were well placed to document the arrival and aftermath of the tsunami, and scientists around the world received an unprecedented amount of data concerning these phenomena.
NOVA: Japan's Killer Quake documents the course of the earthquake and tsunami, and also includes its effects on Hawaii and the continental United States. This high-interest, and disturbing video includes all of the iconic footage associated with the disaster: The curious phenomenon of liquefaction, where earthquake-induced vibrations cause the ground to behave as a liquid; The breach of Miyako's sea wall by dark waters, tossing vehicles about like toys; The inundation of Sendai's orderly agricultural areas by a black, amorphous mass of debris-strewn waters; The footage of entire buildings floating away in the upheaval; The apocalyptic whirlpools created by the retreat of the tsunami's waters. These scenes have a unsettling quality, and represent an overall view of a society rendered helpless by a seeming overturn of the natural order.
The zip file download contains a two-sided video worksheet consisting of 49 multiple choice question, along with an answer key. Files are included in both MS Word and PDF formats. You will need to obtain a DVD of the video, or use the PBS Internet site or YouTube.