Interactive: Field of 2011 Japan tsunami flotsam size of TEXAS approaching California coast
Check out these stunning images, interactive link.
An amalgamation of flotsam from the 2011 tsunami which swept Japan following one of the largest Earthquakes in recorded history, will soon strike the West Coast of the United States after more than two years of floating on the currents across the Pacific.
Just northeast of Hawaii, and approaching the U.S., is a debris field the size of the state of Texas, floating eastward at a pace that will bring it to western shores over the next year. Most of the debris is expected to turn south, then west, back towards Japan with the currents, but many artifacts will certainly wash ashore as the bulk of the flotsam passes south, off the coast.
The debris field is approximately the size of the state of Texas and has already passed northeast of the Hawaiian islands.
An estimated five tons of debris is thought to remain afloat out at sea. At least one ton may come ashore, mostly in California.
This image shows the projected path of debris over time.
The debris includes wrecked homes and structures, boats, and millions of other smaller items. Large storage drums, empty containers, and other, smaller items are expected. Plastic and wooden items will probably be the most common. Floating docks have already washed ashore in Washington and Oregon.
Flotsam from the field reveals entire houses and boats amid the debris.
The debris should be more prevalent in California as currents turn the body of flotsam south, then back to the west.
Click here to watch an interactive graphic of the debris field.
Beachcombers are warned to avoid any debris that could contain hazardous materials or otherwise be dangerous. Despite leaks from the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, no danger from radiation is expected.
This can of bug spray could leak hazardous chemicals. People are warned to be careful if they see any debris on the beach and to watch children closely.
The likelihood of finding human remains is virtually zero. Still, beach-goers are advised to use caution when walking the strand and swimming and should avoid contact with any large debris. Instead, they should report the debris to local authorities for cleanup.
The documented range of debris is from Alaska in the north to the Philippines in the south.
Not all of the debris is dangerous. This soccer ball washed up earlier in the year. It bears the name of the child to whom it once belonged.
The debris field remains dense in parts. This Navy photo shows the debris field following the quake. Although much of the material has sank or dispersed, it remains a danger to swimmers and craft at sea. Large quantities of fishing tack are especially dangerous as they can entangle people and objects, not to mention marine life.
Japanese fishing buoys are already coming ashore regularly in the Pacific Northwest.
This motorcycle washed ashore earlier in the year, the unlucky owner possibly a victim of the tsunami, which makes the find particularly haunting.
This floating dock came ashore in Oregon after crossing the ocean from Japan. Although larger items are uncommon, there are many such large artifacts in the debris field.
Boats of various sorts have already made their way across the Pacific, entirely dead. Most of these ghostly ships, like this one, have finally sank.
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