Living with Earthquake/ volcanoes - Japan.


Japan - Tectonic Setting.

  • Located in one of most tectionally active areas on plate boundaries in world.
  • Four tectonic plates meet, widespread seduction leads to intense volcanic activity.
  • nearly 12000 volcanic eruptions recorded in past 2 millenia.
  • Different scales of average frequency for volcanic eruptions suggest less variable frequencys equate to more explosive ones.
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Great East Japan Earthquake: Tohoku.

  • One in five top recordings in Japanese history.
  • 11 March 2011.
  • 9Mw in magitude.
  • Epicentre 70km East of Oshika Peninsula.
  • Focus was 30km.
  • 400km of coastline dropped by 0.4km.  
  • Lasted six minutes.
  • Undersea megathrust earthquake.
  • Seismic energy are caused by the same force generating volcanoes but instead bring the risks of tsunamis.
  • Pacific coast is especially vulnerable as it has a dense population and comes with three huge conurbations; Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
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Social Impacts.

  •  16,000 deaths, 6000 injuries. 
  • (2/5) 60+, (1/4) 70+.
  • 90% deaths were due to drowning, the rest being from burns and collapsed buildings.
  • 100,000 seperated from their families with their whereabouts being an inssue. 2000 had lost at least one parent. 
  • Traditional mourning regimes had to be abandoned for mass burial of dead bodies as the government agreed this would minimise the spread of disease.
  • When one elementary school collasped, 10/13 teachers and 74/108 students were lost.
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Economic Impacts.

  • 230,000 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged; 15 ports were directly affected, with four destroyed in the northeast of Japan, including Sendai.
  • 4.4 million households and thousands of businesses lost electricity. The major cause of this disruption was the immediate shutdown of 11 nuclear reactors.
  • At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Figure 14.26), all six of its reactors were so severely damaged by the tsunami that the plant was decommissioned.
  • Some 25 million tonnes of debris was created by the earthquake, requiring a costly clean-up operation. Over large areas, farmland flooded by sea water has been contaminated by salt and made uncultivable.
  • Transport infrastructure was badly hit. Many road bridges were damaged or destroyed and in the northeast train services were badly disrupted.
  • Some 25 million tonnes of debris was created by the earthquake, requiring a costly clean-up operation. Over large areas, farmland flooded by sea water has been contaminated by salt and made uncultivable.

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Political Impacts.

  • Japanese government injected billions of yen into the economy, especially the financial sector, to bring some stability. This increased government debt at a time when its reduction was a prime political aim.
  • After the Tohoku earthquake. Concerns over safety standards and regulation of the nuclear industry became a political issue.

  • The government has yet to make a clear decision about the role of nuclear power in Japan’s long-term energy mix. Several executives of companies involved in the Fukushima power plant have resigned.

  • emerged that warnings about the inadequacy of the defences against tsunami hazards had been made several years before the disaster.

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coping Strategies.

Vulnerability modifications:

  • Tsunami warning systems off the coast.
  • Fire proofing older buidings more suspectible to burning, common in older city districtsof Japan.
  • Land-use zoning providing open spaces for assembly after earthquakes.
  • Controlling building in locations suspectible to liquefaction or excessive ground shaking.
  • Research and monitoring; JMA provides mitigation strageties for tectonic hazards such as extreme weather, tsunamis and earthquakes by providing information and warning about impending disasters.
  • Using aseismic design in buildings.
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  • Japan has vast resources to manage losses caused by earthquakes.
  • Well-rehearsed recovery and reconstruction plans, at national, regional and local levels, can be actioned immediately following an earthquake.
  • To rebuild physically, economically and socially ASAP.   
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