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Japan Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster

GEOG-1700
February 17, 2016
Deanne Moore

On March 11, 2011 a magnitude 9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a


savage tsunami. The effects of the earthquake was felt around the world.

Japan has been affected by several earthquakes. Which brings up the question why Japan
is prone to earthquakes. The main reason for this activity is because of where Japan is situated,
on the ring of fire which is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity. Roughly 90% of all
earthquakes occur along the Ring of fire, and has about 75% of all active volcanoes on earth.
Japan is situated between four tectonic plates. The 2011 Tohoku earthquake struck off the shore
of Japan, along a subduction zone where two of Earths tectonic plates collide. In a subduction
zone, one plate slides beneath another into the mantle, the hotter layer beneath the crust. The

great plates are rough and stick together, building up energy that is released as earthquakes.

However, according to Costas Synolakis a tsunami expert, stated Japan is one of


the most well-prepared countries on earth in terms of tsunami warning. They had
a warning. I think what went wrong is that they had not anticipated the size on
the event. There are more than four thousand Seismic Intensity Meters in place
throughout Japan to measure earthquake activity. These meters provided
information within two minutes of the earthquake happening. There are also
concrete sea walls around much of the Japanese coastline which were not able to
contain the water.

Japans Sea walls


This earthquake and tsunami were to powerful. Japan also had an advanced
emergency service plan in place for a tsunami. Even the best laid out plans
cannot compete with Mother Nature. The tsunami was much larger than they
had anticipated. With all this advanced technology there were 15,893 people
killed. One of the biggest problems was that nuclear plants were damaged. The
tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three reactors causing a
nuclear accident. All three cores largely melted in the first three days. It is

estimated that the damage from the earthquake and tsunami is estimated at
about 25 trillion yen ($300 billion).

Map of Japan
According to the National Geographic this disaster has caused effects worldwide. There
was some damage in Hawaii and California, the shortened days increased the Earths wobble and
of course the damage from the nuclear power plant is wide spread.
This was a devastating event and from it with any luck scientist have learned from this
and can implement a better system for protection and emergency response for future earthquakes
and tsunamis.