• On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. The earthquake struck below the North Pacific Ocean, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region, a northern part of the island of Honshu.
     
    The Tohoku earthquake caused a tsunami. A tsunami—Japanese for “harbor wave”—is a series of powerful waves caused by the displacement of a large body of water. Most tsunamis, like the one that formed off Tohoku, are triggered by underwater tectonic activity, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The Tohoku tsunami produced waves up to 40 meters (132 feet) high,
     
    More than 450,000 people became homeless as a result of the tsunami. More than 15,500 people died. 
     
    The tsunami also severely crippled the infrastructure of the country. In addition to the thousands of destroyed homes, businesses, roads, and railways, the tsunami caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Fukushima nuclear disaster released toxic, radioactive materials into the environment and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and businesses. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    city Noun

    large settlement with a high population density.

    country Noun

    geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

    cripple Verb

    to disable or weaken.

    damage Noun

    harm that reduces usefulness or value.

    destroy Verb

    to ruin or make useless.

    devastating Adjective

    very destructive or damaging.

    displacement Noun

    forced removal of something, often people or organisms, from their communities or original space.

    earthquake Noun

    the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    evacuate Verb

    to leave or remove from a dangerous place.

    harbor Noun

    part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

    Encyclopedic Entry: harbor
    impact Noun

    meaning or effect.

    infrastructure Noun

    structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

    island Noun

    body of land surrounded by water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: island
    nuclear reactor Noun

    machinery that controls a nuclear reaction, usually for the production of electricity.

    power plant Noun

    industrial facility for the generation of electric energy.

    radioactive Adjective

    having unstable atomic nuclei and emitting subatomic particles and radiation.

    region Noun

    any area on the Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    tectonic activity Noun

    movement of tectonic plates resulting in geologic activity such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

    toxic Adjective

    poisonous.

    trigger Verb

    to cause or begin a chain of events.

    tsunami Noun

    ocean waves triggered by an earthquake, volcano, or other movement of the ocean floor.

    volcanic eruption Noun

    activity that includes a discharge of gas, ash, or lava from a volcano.

    wave Noun

    moving swell on the surface of water.

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