Fukushima Earthquake And Tsunami 2011

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Fukushima Earthquake And Tsunami 2011


Science’s solutions to detecting Tectonic Movements And Earthquakes

Fukushima Essay

In March 2011, Japan was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a following tsunami. Authorities concluded that the earthquake was the cause of the Pacific plate releasing the friction built up after years converged under the North American plate (as shown in figure 3) along the fault line that lies kilometres away from Japan’s coastline. (Urbano, 2011)This caused the friction to spread through the ground-and what was originally said to be a magnitude 6.6 earthquake through the evaluation of incomprehensive readings from seismometers- shook Japan for over five minutes. The resulting tsunami was triggered by the explosive energy released by the earthquake. However, its damage was minimized by 10m high sea walls and the modeling of buildings along the coast, which had applied various scientific techniques to reduce impact from waves on actual buildings.

Earthquakes are a very significant problem around the globe and can cause havoc through towns. The Japan earthquake and following tsunami resulted in 20000 deaths and caused the destruction of entire towns and many coastal areas of the country- the most notably being the Tōhoku region in Honshu. (Pletcher, 2013) A large percentage of the damage and lives lost could have been avoided if sciences techniques in detecting earthquakes- such as seismometers- would have alerted authorities in advance rather than minutes before the earthquake struck, as well as conveyed more accurate readings.

Around the globe scientists and organisations have attempted to develop method of detecting earthquakes so that maximum damage can be prevented. Currently, around the globe seismometers, sea walls and building modeling are used to detect earthquakes through the readings of seismic waves. This scientific solution has potential to minimise damage from earthquakes and tsunamis around the globe if implemented correctly and its negatives minimized.

The Application of Science To Detect Earthquakes and Consequently Prevent Damage-Seismometers

Earthquakes can be detected by measuring the frequency of the seismic waves in a particular area using a scientific device such as a seismometer. Seismic waves are circular waves (see figure 4) created by the back and forth movement that occurs when an earthquake shakes the ground, thus releasing waves. A magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake- like the one in Japan 2011, are caused due to the faster and rapider movement of the ground. This releases a higher frequency of seismic waves that can be detected by scientific instruments like a seismometer-just as they were during the Fukushima earthquake. 

The science behind the implementation of seismometers in earthquake prone areas such as Japan is that they use the basic principal of inertia to detect seismic waves in the earth’s surface. They consist of a ground motion detection sensor and a recording system. In a simple seismometer’s detection system, a weight and a spring are suspended from a frame that moves along with the earth’s surface. As the earth moves, the relative motion between the weight and the earth, which is caused by seismic waves is measured by the recording system which consists of a rotating drum attached to the frame,  (as shown in diagram 1) and a pen attached to the mass. This pencil moves along with the weight and the spring, leaving lines along the drum, which can be interpreted into determining the frequency of seismic waves and the magnitude of the coming earthquake by authorities.(Braile, 2000)Modern seismometers are electronic, and instead of using a pen and drum, the seismic activity generates an electrical voltage that is recorded by a computer. The reason why Japanese authorities and other nations around the world choose this science to help detect earthquakes is because it allows them to determine before hand when an earthquake is going to happen. Seismographs gather information over a long period of time and the patterns in the seismic wave frequency are easily analyzable.

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Seismometers were implemented in Japan’s coastline by local authorities with readings going to computers where the data from seismic waves was analyzed. This brought to the early conclusions that the earthquake was a magnitude 6.6 and later upgraded to 9.0 from further readings showing an increase in movement within the ground. Seismometers also bring a change in scientific research about certain regions and their risk to earthquakes, as it allows for research to be collected at various points before, during and after an earthquake, so that warnings can be sent out in advance next time or before an aftershock. (Dea, ...

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