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Interactive map: Hundreds of aftershocks rock Japan; dozens struck before great quake [Updated]

March 14, 2011 |  7:08 am

Japan's massive magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck March 11 at 2:46 p.m. local time did not take place in isolation. A series of smaller quakes hit in the days before. Aftershocks — as many as 12 to 15 an hour — now total in the hundreds, including more than 30 of magnitude 6 or greater.

The Times' data desk has created an animated time-line map showing the lead up to and the aftermath of Japan's great quake.

Play the time-line map above to see quakes magnitude 5 and greater before and after the strongest temblor to strike Japan in 140 years.

The time line begins two days before the great quake, when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit off the coast shortly before noon March 9. All times are Japan Standard.

Scientists have said data collected from the Honshu quake will be closely studied for lessons that could apply to future earthquakes.

"This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake ever, " Lucy Jones, chief scientist for the Multi-Hazards Project at the U.S. Geological Survey, told reporters at a news conference Saturday at Caltech in Pasadena.

Times' reporter Eryn Brown reported Sunday that although California's topography is different from that involved in the Japanese quake, data collected may apply to the Pacific Northwest, where the Cascadia Subduction Zone extends 600 miles south from British Columbia.

[Update 10:30 p.m.: The magnitude of the Honshu earthquake has been shifted upward several times by seismologists. USGS officials upgraded the quake from an 8.9 to 9.0 magnitude Monday, a day after Japanese officials announced that they had measured the temblor as a 9.0.

Follow the latest from the data desk on Twitter @LATdatadesk

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— Ken Schwencke and Thomas Suh Lauder

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