By Eric Johnson
8 February 2012

SEATTLE – Debris from last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan is already washing up on Washington beaches, and much more is expected.

Oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbsmeyer said chunks of wood and plastic and other pieces of flotsam from the tsunami will continue to show up on local beaches for years or even decades.

"Debris from Japan, from the tsunami of last March, started arriving last September," he said. "It's unprecedented in recorded history. We have a debris field the size of the state of California."

A number of fishing buoys have already made land, and Ebbsmeyer said that is to be expected.

The idea is that the buoys stick up out of the water, so they travel the fastest, catching the wind and current. They buoys followed what is called the Aleut Gyre, which flows to Washington, or the Turtle Gyre, which cuts across the Pacific and heads south.

The objects traveled 20 miles per day, and after nearly 5,000 miles, some of them were spit out onto the Washington coast by winter storms. […]

At the Japanese consulate, Tomoko Dodo is skeptical.

"No one knows if it's from Japan. If those debris, pieces of debris were actually from japan," Dodo said. […]

Debris from Japanese tsunami washing up onto local shores


  1. Anonymous said...

    It is likely that some of this debris is going to be radioactive. Likely low level, but I wouldn't like to see children playing with these items. It would be impossible to test it all, but some should be tested, and if found radioactive, an organized effort should be made to properly collect and dispose of it.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Interesting, on average 50% of all debris will exit any gyre within one cycle. Find gyre frequency and follow the exponential depletion rule to find coastal deposition rate.
    The wind exposure factor has certainly increased significantly the deposition factor of certain debris on the North American west coast. A good thesis there. Next stop for debris is extreme south coast of Hawaii Big Island.  


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