Friday, 8 April 2011

With another quake, more worries over Japan

Another major earthquake shook northeastern Japan on Thursday night, resulting in several deaths in addition to the tens of thousands dead or still missing from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake last month.

Thursday night’s earthquake was registered as a 7.4 magnitude temblor by the Japan Meteorological Agency, while the U.S. Geological Survey labeled it at 7.1. The quake, which was centered 66 kilometers (41 miles) from Sendai, rattled Tokyo, 333 kilometers away, for about a minute, according to reports.

Worry spiked when the cooling systems at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture shut down temporarily as power was knocked out by the earthquake, which caused some cooling water inside the reactors to spill. 

The same power outage occurred at fuel storage tanks at the Higashidori nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, said Kyodo News. However, no temperature increases inside the reactors have been observed.

Japanese residents may be in for yet another earthquake, perhaps of the same or greater magnitude as last month’s 9.0-magnitude quake, as research from Japan’s science ministry has indicated that there is a large possibility that Japan may be shaken badly once again.

Japan’s chief government spokesperson, Yukio Edano, said during a press conference yesterday that citizens should remain wary, as there was a possibility of aftershocks “of 5 to 6 magnitude on the Richter scale.”

According to research carried out by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, an earthquake with a magnitude of over 9.0 with an epicenter fault of over 700 kilometers in length could occur, resulting in a tsunami that could swallow vast areas from Shizuoka Prefecture, home to Mount Fuji, to Miyazaki Prefecture. 

Kyoto and Nagoya universities contributed to the research, along with a government-based organization for maritime research.

Up until now, Japanese experts have expected earthquakes from the three main seismic zones of Tokai in Shizuoka Prefecture, Tonankai in Aichi and Mie prefectures and Nankai in Shikoku Island. 

The three locations were expected to be more prone to earthquakes than Tohoku, where last month’s earthquake occurred.

However, the recent survey has had experts suggesting that another seismic zone in Kyushu could also be connected to another huge earthquake, from signs of past tsunamis along the Kyushu coast.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese financial newspaper, reported yesterday that researchers would hand over their findings to the Japanese government for reference in making new earthquake countermeasures that will be confirmed sometime next year.

If all four seismic zones move together and create an earthquake, a tsunami with waves well over 3 meters (9.8 feet) would occur, said the research team. 

“The results of a simulation of all four seismic zones coming together showed that the height of a resulting tsunami would be 5 to 10 meters high,” Takashi Komura of Tokyo University said. 

“That is about two times more than what we originally expected.”



p/s let's pray for Japan and surrounding countries...hope everything will be better.

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