The powerful and devastating 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan last week destroyed villages and dramatically altered the country's coastline. The magnitude was so great that is shifted the region's geography and as a result, GPS coordinates throughout Japan changed.
With approximately 1,200 GPS monitoring sites across Japan, GPS devices and maps will require an update to be considered accurate. In some areas, the geographical shift was as large as 13 feet. Elevation changes also occurred due to damage caused by the tsunami.
However, the changes may not be over. Since Japan continues to experience hundreds of aftershocks, the GPS coordinates could still shift. Therefore, it may be months or even a year until GPS maps of the area can be considered accurate.