Twenty million tons of wreckage from the March 11 tsunami in Japan is heading toward the beaches of Hawaii. Last month a Russian ship, the STS Pallada, sighted the wreckage just past Midway Atoll on the northern end of the Hawaiian Archipelago. The massive patch of wreckage has traveled 2000 miles from Japan’s coast in six months and based on its speed will wash up on Hawaii beaches as early as Spring of 2012. Nikolai Maximenko, an oceanographer, created a model of the drift of the tsunami debris from the movements of thousands of buoys, which the sighting in late September confirmed.
From Midway, the tsunami wreckage will hook up with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or Pacific Gyre. This patch of 3.5 million tons of concentrated trash floating between Hawaii and San Francisco will be overrun by the 20 million tons of tsunami wreckage. Giant hunks of debris will break off from the Pacific Gyre, drift west, and wash up on beaches in the South Point area of the Island of Hawaii. Kamilo and other beaches on the southern coast of Hawaii Island are already covered with plastic and trash that have dislodged from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Tracking the tsunami wreckage is an overwhelmingly sad reminder of the lives lost and the houses, businesses, and belongings of millions of people that lived along the coast of Japan that were swept out to sea. The wreckage consists of, among other things, over 200,000 houses and buildings, more than one building for every resident on our sparsely populated Island of Hawaii.
Below are links to videos with more information about the Tsunami Debris Patch and the Hawaii Island beaches that will be impacted.