Kobe, Japan (MEDC earthquake case study)

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  • Created by: Kelleigh
  • Created on: 31-05-13 18:43

General information

It occurred on Januray 17th 1995 at 5:46am (local time).

It had a magnitude of 7.2 on the richter scale, the ground shook for about 20 seconds

This region is the 2nd most populated area after Tokyo - approx 10 million

Over 5,000 people died, over 300,000 people became homeless, costing approx. £100 billion to repair roads, homes, factories and infrastructure

Allegedly the most earthquake proof country in the world

Major earthquakes are rare because Kobe is 200km from the plate boundary

An unknown fault line was discovered under Kobe, this could be the explanation for the earthquake

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The Kobe earthquake was caused by the pacific and philippines plate subducting the Eurasian plate.

A lot of pressure builds up during this process and together with the melting of the oceanic plate, an earthquake is triggered

It had a shallow focus - about 16km below the surface, the epicentre occurred close to a heavily populated area, it was along the Nojima fault line under Awaji island

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Primary effects

The ground shaking caused houses to collapse in a 'pancake' fashion

The hanshin expressway broke and toppled over even though it was built to an earthquake proof standard

Liquefaction occurred around the port, causing the sinking of the port infrastructure

The ground was ripped apart causing the gas pipes to rupture

9/10 deaths were due to falling roofs  - this was because the roof weighed 2 tonnes and the walls were made of bamboo ( a pancake collapse)

Modern structures collapsed - the Hanshin expressway was built to out of date seismic codes (1960's)

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Secondary effects

Fires broke out (causing many deaths) in the suburbs which were hard to out because the water mains were out of order and the roads ripped apart

People got hypothermia due to exposure to the cold as 230,000 people were made homeless

Electricty and communication was in chaos

Economy is crippled as the port was damaged for 2 years wiping out $40 billion of trade

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Immediate responses

Emergency services struggled to drive around the debris and clogged streets

fire fighters struggled to put out fires with sea water therefore it was a slow proccess and they weren't trained for these circumstances

The local community helped rescue people from the rubble

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Long term responses

24 investigation teams investigated what went wrong - they discovered the Hanshin expressway didn't have enough inner reinforcement, it cost $3 billion to upgrade it to up to date seismic codes

Houses were to be rebuilt using lightweight materials with reinforcement

$6.8 billion was spent on the port to rebuild to seismic codes, a year after the quake 80% of the port was working but the Hanshin Expressway was still closed

citizens recieved training and education to put out fires and deliver first aid

water, electricity, gas and telephone services were fully working by July 1995, the railways by August 1995

By 1999, 134,000 housing units had been constructed but some people were still in temporary accommodation

new laws were passed to make buildings and transport more earthquake proof

more instruments were installed to monitor the seismic activity

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