Japan is one of the nations across the entire globe that has been severely struck by earthquakes. Japan’s islands are the result of various oceanic movements that have occurred over millions of years ago. The main earthquake that struck Japan was the 2011’s tsunami. This was an earthquake that was also referred to as a Great Sendai or a great Tōhoku Earthquake. It was characterized by severe disasters that were instigated by the powerful earthquake along the Honshu (Smits & Gregory, 57). This led to a widespread destruction of the physical environment, as well as the occurrence of a sequence of tsunami waves. These strong waves entirely devastated the coastal regions of Japan especially an area known as Tōhoku. On the other hand, the tsunami prompted a dangerous nuclear accident along the Japan’s coastal region.
The unanticipated 2011’s disaster was not rated as the largest earthquake to have stricken Japan. The record can be dated back to the year 2004 when the Banda earthquake strike with a magnitude of around 9.1, thereby killing over 230,000 people. This proved to be very devastating since some scientists had already predicted its occurrence. The Japanese scientists had initially forecasted the probable occurrence of a small earthquake along its mainland, Honshu. The only challenge is that; as much as they had made correct predictions, the scientists never expected such a severe tsunami.
In a period before the Tohoku earthquake, most Japanese geologists began recognizing that larger earthquake had already hit the northern part of Honshu in 869 (Smits & Gregory, 35). Their earlier warnings, however, were not taken heed by the officials responsible for the earthquake hazard assessments. Currently, the tsunami experts across the globe are mandated with the responsibility of assessing the prevailing history regarding the past tsunamis in this country so as to be in a position of making appropriate predictions on the future tsunami or earthquake risk. For the bigger earthquakes, the tsunami is regarded as the most destructive. It hence calls for earlier preparations and warnings that will eventually save lives. For instance, less destruction and deaths were witnessed in the current incidence in Sumatra and Japan due to earlier predictions.
2.1 The cause
The Tohoku earthquake that occurred in the year 2011 struck Japan’s offshore alongside the subduction zone. This is a region whereby the two primary tectonic plates tend to collide. It is within the subduction zone that a single plate slides along each other into the subsequent mantle and the hot layer underneath the crust. These plates are extremely rough and tend to stick together, thereby leading to a massive energy buildup that is often released out in the form of earthquakes (Smits & Gregory, 46). Along the Eastern part of Japan, a Pacific plate usually dives below the superseding Eurasian plate. As per the recent research studies, the temblor totally released the long-term built up stress and strain between the tectonic plates.
The 2011’s earthquake was centered along the seafloor 72 kilometers towards the Eastern part of Tohoku. The trembling lasted for almost six minutes. After the earthquake, the scientists drilled the subduction zone and discovered a thin and slippery clay lining along the fault. It was then presumed that such a clay layer permitted these plates to tentatively slide over an incredible distance that facilitated the enormous tsunami and earthquake.
From all these analyses, it can be ascertained that Japan is one of the worst hit regions by earthquakes. This is mainly due to the geographical nature that determines the arrangement and the movement of the tectonic plates. The current technological advancement has reduced the incurred damages and losses to a greater extent since most individuals are often informed and warned on the impending earthquakes earlier.
- Smits, Gregory. When the Earth Roars: Lessons from the History of Earthquakes in Japan. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014. Internet resource.