Japan Tohoku 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami Case Study
This is a brief case study with links and information on the Japan Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami of 11 March 2011
The earthquake occurred 140km off the coast of Honshu (the largest of the Japanese islands) in Japan. The focus (sometimes referred to as a hypocentre) of the earthquake was 32km.
The USGS recorded the information here.
Click here to see an excellent timed interval of the earthquake and the many aftershocks that occurred following the earthquake.
Friday 11 March 1446 local time
The earthquake occurred at 2.46pm which resulted in many lives being lost in the initial earthquake due to many office buildings being full as well as busy roads however a large number of lives were saved as it meant that many people were ready to act when the tsunami warning was heard. Had it been early in the morning many people would have been at home where the chances of their homes collapsing would have been less but then they would probably have responded slowewr to the tsunami warning. This however is a point of debate. Please feel free to comment below.
The earthquake was originally described as 8.9 on the Richter scale but then later upgraded to 9.0 making it the 4th largest earthquake ever recorded since 1900. See the article here.
What were the causes? This is a complex tectonic area. Japan is located at the boundary between many tectonic plates.
The Sendai earthquake was caused by the Pacific Plate descending beneath Japan at the Japan trench/subduction zone.
- 15,845 deaths
- 5,893 injured
- 3,380 people missing
- 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed
- Heavy damage to roads and railways and other infrastucture
- Fujinuma Dam collapse
- 4.4 million households without electricity
- 1.5 million without water
- Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant complex shutdown and meltdown – 20km radius evacuated (US Citizens were told to evacuate by at least 80km)
- Loss estimates £150 billion (US$235)
- The tsunami broke icebergs off the Sulzberger Ice Shelf in Antarctica, 13,000 kilometres away
- Along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and South America, tsunami surges were reported, but in most places caused little or no damage.
What Happened Next?
3 months later these pictures from the Boston Globe showed the progress that was being made in the slow clean up. The before and after pictures are particularly interesting