Newswise — Hundreds are confirmed dead and thousands without shelter or power after an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude, and resulting tsunami, near the Japanese island of Honshu. These University of Wisconsin-Madison experts can provide context and analysis for interested media.

Harold Tobin, a marine geophysicist at the UW-Madison, is an expert on large underwater earthquake processes and the generation of tsunamis. Tobin co-leads a project studying earthquakes in one of Japan's subduction zones similar to the one involved in the earthquake on Friday, March 11 near Japan’s coast.

Subduction zones are areas on the Earth's surface where one tectonic plate slides underneath another. These zones are responsible for the strongest earthquakes and, often, tsunamis. However, Tobin points to a few surprises.

“This part of the Japan Trench was not expected to produce such a big quake. It's an area people were watching for earthquakes, but a magnitude of 8.9 was a surprise to many seismologists," Tobin says.

Michael Corradini is a nuclear engineer and chair of the Energy Institute. As Japan faces the possibility of damage to several nuclear plants, Corradini can discuss reactor shutdowns, nuclear safety concerns and other related topics, including energy policy and energy systems.

Corradini is out of town over the weekend of March 11-13, but is available via cell phone at (608) 358-6568 or A profile is available at

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