Case Study of Kobe Earthquake

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  • Topic: Earthquake, Great Hanshin earthquake, Japan
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  • Published : April 23, 2013
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Great Hanshin / Kobe earthquake

In the early of January 17th in 1995 at 5:46pm, while many were still sleeping peacefully, the destructive Great Hanshin earthquake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, struck the Japanese city of Kobe. Kobe has a population of 1.5 million people and is a major port for importing and exporting goods for Japan, situated south of the main island, Honshu, on a narrow strip of land between the ocean and high mountain ranges, it lies above the junction of the Philippine and Eurasian plates. Kobe has rarely been affected by major earthquakes, only small tremors occasionally, but this earthquake that lasted for a whole 20 seconds, was the biggest to hit japan in 47 years.

Japan is situated on the margin of the Eurasian plated, where the Philippine sea plate is being subducted below the Eurasian plate, resulting in Japan having greater than average seismic and volcanic activity. Immediately south of Osaka bay is a fault called the median tectonic line (MTL) and it was sudden movement along this fault that triggered the earthquake that hit Kobe. The movement was caused by the friction from the Eurasian and Philippine plates converging. The earthquake had a shallow focus, only 16 km below the surface, which had caused it to become so destructive. Kobe was largely affected, as the epicentre was only 30 km from the city centre.

Japan is said to be the most earthquake prone country but this was proved otherwise in the Kobe earthquake. The 20 second earthquake caused the ground to move up to 50 centimetres horizontally and up to 1 meter vertically. The primary effects from the seismic waves shaking the crust were severe causing the collapse of buildings, bridges and roads. With a total of 75 000 buildings damaged or destroyed and all major road and rail way links damaged all communications from the east and west of japan were cut off. The after shocks from the earthquake caused the problems to become worse with a total...
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