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Japan Earthquake

By kelias May 04, 2013 510 Words
K. E.
Geology 100
Japan earthquake
                On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by a magnitude 9.0 quake at about 2:50 pm. This would turn out to be the largest earthquake in the past thousands years to ever be recorded. What caused this massive destruction one might ask? This devastating quake was caused because Japan is located between two major tectonic plates. When a large number of plate movements occur, the Pacific Plate makes its way below a subduction zone. When plate movements are not gradual and continuous along the subductions zones, quakes then now occur. When the subduction zones begin to deform from the plate, stress begins to build up in the rocks. Once the stress level increases to its limit, the rocks rupture along the boundary of the plate.                 Since the magnitude of the Japan quake was so large, a tsunami was created. This tsunami hit the mainland causing more destruction. The cause of this tsunami was due to the fact that the earthquake occurred 20 miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Combined with the high magnitude, the tsunami affected not only Japan but also the coast of the United States; such as Hawaii, California, and Oregon. Reaching at about 33 feet high, the tsunami inundated the coast while flooding parts of Sendai. The Natori River, which separates Sendai from Natori was overflown from the large amounts of water. As for the town of Miyako, it was completely washed away.                 Fukushima Daiich, one of the two nuclear plants was struck. The damage caused was to the pumping systems that control the temperature of the nuclear reactors. A fire broke out, causing an explosion to occur and evacuations to take into effect. Fortunately there were no deaths or radiation sickness from the plants recorded by authorities.                 When the waves hit Hawaii, from the effects of the tsunami, the debris from the aftermath of the earthquake washed up on shore. Plastic, wood, and parts of buildings settled on the ocean shore, which then caused deaths to the animals that inhabited the areas, due to the fact they were eating the debris. The tsunami hit the coast, also exposing the reef with a wave that was 6 feet tall. Little damage was caused, but mandatory evacuations were taken into effect as a precaution. Hitting the coast of California as well, a town called Crescent City not only experienced the destruction of their harbor but also one fatality. A man trying to photograph the waves was swept out into sea. However, this was nothing compared to the damage that Japan was left with; about 16,000 lives lost and 3,000 people still listed as missing.                 If an earthquake like the one that hit Japan, hit the United States the area is would take place at would be Washington. The fault line Cascadia, has one fault line under the other, squeezing them together creating pressure. When the maximum pressure reaches, a quake as large as Japan could occur, causing the same damage maybe greater.

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