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Japan is located in a region of subduction zones in which four tectonic plates converge (Fig. 7.1), with two oceanic plates subducting beneath two continental plates. Frequent earthquakes are associated with this plate convergence, including several major earthquakes that have caused extensive damage to inhabited areas. The recent M 9.0 11 March 2011 great Tohokuoki earthquake, which occurred along the plate interface east of Tohoku, NE Japan, is an example of a signifcantly destructive earthquake in the region. This event was the greatest earthquake in the modern history of Japan, the worlds fourth-largest earthquake to occur during the era of instrumental seismology, and it caused severe damage to eastern Japan, resulting in c. 20 000 dead and missing.

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