Japan earthquake and tsunami debris floats across the Pacific toward the US west coast (27Pics)
April 9, 2011
The tsunami was caused by an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale on March 11, 2011. This image by Sadatsugu Tomizawa shows the tsunami waves hitting the coast of Minamisoma.
"It is very large and it's a maritime hazard," Lieutenant Anthony Falvo, deputy public affairs officer for the US Navy's 7th Fleet
The largest "island" of debris stretches 60 nautical miles (69 miles) in length and covers an expanse of more than 2.2 million square feet, according to the US Navy's 7th Fleet, which is closely monitoring the floating rubbish.
A graphic depicting the predicted location of the Japan debris field as it swirls towards the U.S. West Coast. Scientists predict where the first bits of rubbish will wash up.
- - -
Man Made Continent of Trash a Fantastic Story
The Gyre contains a floating continent of Plastic debris the size of Texas. Captain Charles Moore was on his way home from a sailing trip, Los Angeles to Hawaii when he decided to cut across the area, little traveled by seaman on his way back to California. Moore explains the Gyre as a Spiral that moves in a clockwise rotation created by ocean currents.
This spiral traps debris in its current and holds them in place.
Moore estimates that plastic started showing up in the 1950s and has grown to an alarming size, thousands of miles across.
The plastic is submerged just below the surface, undetectable from satellite images because of the reflection caused by the water.
Garbage had historically broken down in the oceans until plastic came along. more