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Listen to Japan's Huge Earthquake

This is the sound of a deadly, tsunami-triggering earthquake, sped up 16 times.

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Scientists captured this noise, which was made by Japan's massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck on March 11. The quake is now the fourth largest earthquake of all time . It set off a tsunami that devastated the coast, crippled nuclear reactors and killed an estimated 27,000 people.

The amazing recording was made by a so-called hydrophone, which is basically an underwater microphone. The hydrophone was located near Alaska's Aleutian Islands, about 900 miles (1,500 kilometers) from the quake's epicenter, which was off the coast of the city of Sendai, on Japan's main island, Honshu.

The powerful quake has triggered hundreds of aftershocks, including more than 60 of magnitude 6.0 or greater, and three above magnitude 7.0. [When Will the Aftershocks in Japan End?]

The quake was caused by thrust faulting near the Japan Trench, the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. Thrust faulting happens when one tectonic plate dives under another. In this case, the Pacific plate is diving under the North American plate.

The earthquake noise was captured by scientists at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore.

Live Science Staff
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