Sediments may control location, magnitude of megaquakes

The world’s most powerful earthquakes strike at subduction zones, areas where enormous amounts of stress build up as one tectonic plate dives beneath another. When suddenly released, this stress can cause devastating ‘megaquakes’ like the 2011 Mw 9.0 Tohoku event, which killed nearly 16,000 people and crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.