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The Japan Tsunami Catastrophe By Amber Petersen Geog 1700 Natural Disasters On March 11th, 2011 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake ruptured off the northeastern coast of Japan. Its epicenter was about 130 km from Sendai, Honshu. It shook Honshu six times before the coastline collapsed. The earthquake shifted Honshu 2.4 meters eastward and sent tsunami waves heading towards the shore at speeds of 700 km/s. Waves reaching 3 to 38 meters high pounded the Honshu coastline, destroying everything in its path including small villages and towns, flooding areas about 10 km or more inland. There apparently are no records of precursors prior to the main quake but there was continuing effects after the initial quake which includes: Power Plant shutdown of over 50 plants Evacuation of residents living close to Power plants By March 13th over 250,000 people were evacuated from cities and towns close to the Fukushima Plant. Tokyo stock plummets causing severe economical damage The damage done to the northern part of Japan as of Aug. 15th, 2011 included: 16,447 deaths 4,787 missing people 5,888 injured For a total of 21,234 presumed dead. Structural damages include: 111,944 Buildings destroyed 139,870 partially destroyed 517,050 partially damaged For a total of 768,864 property damages at a cost reaching more than $310 billion dollars. The 2011 earthquake was the largest earthquake ever to be recorded in Japan. Because of the earthquakes indirect effect of causing the Fukushima Nuclear plant reactor to meltdown, causing the Japanese people to start a movement to move towns further away from Power Plants and also trying to get all other Power Plants to be shutdown all together. The geological scale of the earthquake caused Japan to move about 8in (2.4m) toward North America and the force of the earthquake caused the earth to shift on its axis by 4 – 6.5 inches. The Tsunami itself reached six miles inland where some cities like Minami Shanriku practically vanished. The Tsunami also caused major damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant causing one of the reactors to explode with oncoming waves. Some of the direct and indirect effects of the Tsunami/Earthquake include: Economical dislocation Loss of homes Loss of jobs Loss of Power and water Damage to the ecosystem from radiation caused by the nuclear reactor explosion. Damages to buildings Coastal erosion Flooding Fires Death A lot of the effects were also enhanced and caused more damage to the coastal and oceanic ecosystems because of the Fukushima nuclear plant reactor meltdown. The explosion resulted in major leaks of radiation into the ocean and surrounding areas and may possibly cause long term damage globally. This picture depicts the flow of the radiation leak and the area it covered. The estimated amount of radiation that leaked into the Pacific Ocean was around 900,000 terabecquerels of the Iodine equivalent of the radioactive Iodine 131 and Cesium 137; as a result there have been increased thyroid and lymph cancer cases in humans as well as damages to animal and plant life. Some of the underlining energy sources were: The convergent fault line rupturing on a seduction zone Weather Tectonic Plates shifting Nuclear plant reactor exploding Human activities that were factors in the effects and damages included: Building homes and businesses close to the coastal line Having power plants close to the coast Highly dense population of people There was no prediction recorded for the earthquake that hit Japan, although it could have possibly been predicted. The seismologists in Japan should have monitored the seismographs more and make public of the possible damage and danger of a possible earthquake this size and magnitude and evacuate surrounding towns and villages where the previous earthquakes ruptured if there were any. There was a tsunami warning after the earthquake ruptured around 3pm that day, but the warning had came too late for the Thousands of people that was killed that day. My hindsight risk analysis would be a medium to high probability of the disaster event occurring with high damage, due to the regions consistent seismic activity and its fault line being a part of the ring of fire which is known to have more seismic activity than other fault line areas due to volcanic activity. The actual risk analysis exceeded what would normally be projected, causing more damage than any other recorded earthquake in the Japan. The risk analysis for a future event like this one to happen again is decently high and should be included in future mitigation plans for any high risk areas prone to earthquakes. The event is linked to the physical environment because for one it is a part of a tectonic plate that is a natural process of shifting plates to help our planet grow in size. Other natural disasters caused by this event include: Fires Massive flooding Coastal erosion Mass wasting Land slides Human activity in recent years and decades have caused this event to be catastrophic because of population growth and the Japanese people’s diet helped keep the populace healthy and living longer, which made the cities more densely populated. It’s worse than say 30 to 50yrs ago because the economy grew bigger and made it more possible to build more homes. Also, with the growing tourism which brings in more and more people from all over makes it more densely populated. The Communities had a mitigation plan but it wasn’t set up for the size of the tsunami’s that hit those areas, therefore it wasn’t very usable, also due to the waves killing community leaders as well as emergency shelters, hospitals, centers, government buildings, and other emergency resources. It made it more difficult to recover. The Japanese government could have made a mitigation plan based on the possibility of an event this big so that they could have been better prepared for it. What I think, is that other locations that share these characteristics, should always mitigate to the possibility of the largest magnitude an earthquake can possibly produce, so that they can be better prepared for any possible natural event. The Natural service functions this event produced was: Brought new soil deposits Brought in new chemical compounds from the ocean to land, giving it nutrients it couldn’t get any other way Here are all the resources I used in writing this paper: http://www.report.com/2011/08/04/japan-tsunami-following-up-theaftermath-part-16-june http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-24/fukushima-s-estimatedradiation-leak-doubles-versus-government.html http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/japans-megaquake-and-killertsunami-how-did-happen http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120809/srep00570/full/srep00570.html http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/03/14/japan-quake-and-tsunamitimeline-of-key-events/ http://www.geography.org.uk/resources/japantsunami http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/11/sendai-earthquake-2011japan_n_834688.html http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/03/11/japans-sophisticatedtsunami-warning-prevented-losses/ http://www.eqclearinghouse.org/2011-03-11-sendai/files/2011/03/JapanSocSci-Rpt-hirez-rev.pdf Natural Hazards 3rd Edition by Keller (I used it for help with the natural service functions) This course has given me knowledge about the natural functions of earth and how they affect people and what benefits it gives. It also taught me about realizing the risks and effects of disasters so that I can be better prepared for an event happening where I live. This course helped me finally be able to understand what the meteorologist says when I watch the weather and I can recognize when salt lake has a low or high pressure just by looking at the sky. I had lots of fun and intellectual stimulation that make me more curious about the world around me.