When a giant earthquake hit Japan this year, it also triggered vibrations to reach up to the highest layer of the atmosphere.
The magnitute 9 Tohoku Earthquake, which released a giant tsunami on Japan's coastal land, rattled the ionosphere, and almost reached out to space. The ionosphere is one of the highest layers of the atmosphere, and ripples were created in electrically charged particles created nearly 220 miles above Earth.
The research findings were published June 28 in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics.
Scientists used 1,000 GPS receivers in Japan and Taiwan to detect radio signals that came up as anomalies between the GPS satellites and ground receivers.
The signals are disruptions, called "seismotraveling ionospheric disturbances". About seven minutes after the quake, scientists saw a disc-shaped rise in electron density in the ionosphere, with concentric waves flowing out at speeds of up 450 to 500 mph. The ripples from the disc-shaped disturbance appeared to be linked to the tsunami.