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Japan earthquake, forensic excavations

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March 11, 2011
Northeast Japan devastated
A magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan generated a tsunami and has devastated several coastal communities. Several powerful aftershocks have been reported. SFU earth sciences professors John Clague and Brent Ward are experts in earthquakes and tsunamis, and they can provide insight into this tragic event unfolding before our eyes. “There’s a plate that is subducting under Japan and that causes stress to build up in that plate,” explained Ward. “When it’s released, it causes a flexing of the Japanese plate. When that rebounds, it displaces water and that water causes the tsunami. We have a similar tectonic configuration here on the west coast.” SFU communication associate professor Peter Anderson is able to comment on emergency communication systems used during natural disasters.

John Clague, 778.782.4924 or 604.351.4570,
Brent Ward,778-782-4229, (Note: Brent is teaching from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm PST and 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm PST today.)
Peter Anderson, 778.782.4921 or 778.782.3626,

Helping law-enforcement officials
SFU Archaeology faculty and students are assisting the Vancouver Police Department in a cold-case murder investigation from 1977 this week. Police are checking into claims that a murder victim is buried underneath the basement of a home. While SFU Archaeology assistant professor Ross Jamieson can’t comment on the investigation itself, he can talk about what this type of experience provides for SFU students, how forensic excavations work, and the relationships the school has with law-enforcement officials.

Ross Jamieson, 778.782.3087,


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