WASHINGTON (AFP) - The colossal earthquake that sent a devastating tsunami barrelling into Japan two years ago on Monday was so big it could be heard from space, a study has said.

A specially fitted satellite circling the Earth was able to detect the ultra-low frequency sound waves generated by the massive shift in the planet’s crust, when the 9.0-magnitude quake struck.

Nearly 19,000 people died because of the towering tsunami it caused, which crushed settlements and swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sparking meltdowns that displaced tens of thousands of people.