This most recent devastating earthquake that occurred in Japan and the two that occurred last year in Chile and Haiti was a direct result of a shift of tectonic plates caused by volcanic activity beneath the earths crust. What makes this earthquake in Japan so intense is that over 10% of the earths active volcanoes are located in Japan. Japan is actually a chain of islands forming an archipelago of mountain tops formed by the earths plate tectonics and the volcano activity located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. It just so happens that the Japanese are living in one of the earths most unstable regions. When the Philippine Sea Plate and the Pacific Plate subduct under the Eurasian Continental Plate with the North American Plate near Asia which all are situated on subduction zones around Japan any sudden shift by any two Plates results in earthquakes. Unfortunately this most recent one proved to be more intense. These disturbances are centered around the "Pacific Ring of Fire." Japan just happens to lie on top of the Pacific Plate which is right next to the Philippine Sea Plate. With all the volcanic activity that has been going on in Japan and with over 1500 smaller quakes each year it was only a matter of time before a major earthquake hit. The last major earthquakes to hit last year were in Chile and Haiti resulted from a continuation of disturbances that have been ongoing for years along the Pacific Ring of Fire. It all indicates that the planet is indeed in the continuing process of major continental shifts.
What happened in Chile was that the South American Plate in coinciding with the Nazca Plate shifted because the pressure of volcanic activity forced an eruption beneath causing these two plates to rise and move rapidly resulting in the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake. When this occurred it also created a Tsunami that had the capability of causing serious damage to Hawaii and the far East Coast. Luckily, the resulting Tsunami was very small and did not damage any shore line across the Pacific. This one from the recent earthquake in Japan is proving to be most devastating.The earthquake in Haiti which lies on the Caribbean Plate occurred when the Concos Plate was forced to move during more volcanic activity beneath these two plates. All of the earths land masses make up the lithosphere which exists as separate tectonic plates which float on the lava like asthemosphere. The fluidity of the earths asthemosphere allows the tectonic plates to shift in different directions and rise up causing earthquakes.
With yesterday's 8.9 earthquake in Japan triggered massive Tsunami's that had devastating consequences in Japan, more damage in Hawaii and was even felt along the West Cost of the United States. The monumental loss of lives not just from the earthquake but from the waves resulting from this quake is just too horrendous. To the Japanese credit their building codes from years of experience resulted in some major damage but it would have been far more devastating had these buildings didn't meet the mandated building codes for being more earthquake proof. The real issue is the amount of destruction caused by the resulting Tsunami.
There is a distinct possibility that all these earthquakes occurred as a direct result of continuing fault lines shifting almost concurrently. These plate shifts most likely are just the beginning of more tremors and earthquakes that will follow will continue to intensify. Sure their have been spontaneous earthquakes through-out history but with three major earthquakes happening within a little over a year apart is just too coincidental to think otherwise. Such is the case as to what just happened in Japan with devastating results there and after affects felt in Hawaii and the West Cost of the United States.
There is also the possibility of acceleration of continental shifts are indirectly linked to global warming. With the continued escalation of depleting the world of it's oil reserves, the ravaging of the earths surface through strip mining of coal and the mining of coal have caused great voids under the earths surface creating more of climate in which the asthemosphere is more likely to shift to make up the difference in the voids that man has caused. With the combination of more fossil fuel emissions world wide global warming has only exasperated the acceleration of melting polar ice caps which also triggers major geological shifts of the oceans and continents. All of which could be a cause attributing to earthquakes.
Too often when a major earthquake strikes the major destruction and devastation that results in it's aftermath the poorest countries, cities, and towns suffer the most. The buildings and the rest of the infrastructure are so poorly constructed that when a major earthquake occurs the devastation is more acute than in countries, cities, and towns where citizens have the ability and capability of constructing buildings more structurally sound. In Japan the damage would have been far worse had the major cities not built their buildings to withstand the amount of minor earthquakes that are so frequent. When a major earthquake hit as it did most of the major buildings in the cities are better suited to withstand major earthquakes.
We must all realize the enormous impact of any disruption on the planet whether it is earthquakes or any other natural disaster the earth will continue to subject all humanity with upheavals of destruction. Some scientists now fear that they will only continue to escalate, intensify, and occur more with certain regularity. Using the technology developed today for advanced warning and mandated better building codes along the Rings of Fire all around the world will have a greater impact on the saving of lives, money, and property in the event of any major catastrophe.