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Japan earthquake: Record-shattering breakwater can't hold back tsunami

The Kamaishi, Japan, breakwater was in the Guinness World Records as the deepest on the planet. It was a product of decades of research on wave dynamics and dissipation. But the tsunami made short work of it.

March 13, 2011|By Kenji Hall | Los Angeles Times

The breakwater in Kamaishi, Japan, is in the Guinness World Records as the deepest on the planet, but when the tsunami hit this small city in Iwate prefecture, waves swelled over the barrier, engulfing buildings and cars and smashing everything in its path to smithereens in a matter of minutes.

The images from Japan's Pacific coastline have been a scary reminder of nature's power. Kamaishi thought it had built just the thing to keep the forces of nature at bay.

The concrete breakwater, nearly 207 feet deep, was designed to blunt an incoming tsunami. Its construction marked the culmination of decades of research on wave dynamics and dissipation. It stretches 6,430 feet and was completed in March 2009 after more than three decades of construction.

Video shot on Friday and played repeatedly on Japanese news programs show waves breaching the Kamaishi breakwater and causing widespread devastation.

RELATED:

Photos: Scenes of destruction in aftermath of the Japan earthquake

Videos: Earthquake devastation captured as it hit

Video: YouTube

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