The Tohoku tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 swept untold tons of material ranging from personal belongings to entire buildings into the Pacific ocean. As we reported in May, researchers using computer models of ocean currents predicted that the debris would take several years to arrive on the west coast of North America.
But as early as December 2011, beachcombers in Neah Bay, WA and on Vancouver Island began reporting tsunami debris washing up on their coastline. While most debris is expected to move at about 7 mph, larger items pushed along by the wind may reach 20 mph. But there is debate over whether the reported flotsam and jetsam, which ranges from lumber to bottles, is linked to the tsunami, since debris from Japan frequently washes up along west coast beaches. (Generations of beachcombers have collected glass Japanese fishing floats, for example.)Read More»