News / Asia

    Scientists Express Concern About More Big Japan Quakes

    This March 14, 2011 photo shows cars upended and destroyed by the tsunami that struck Sendai port in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, on March 11.
    This March 14, 2011 photo shows cars upended and destroyed by the tsunami that struck Sendai port in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, on March 11.

    Significant aftershocks continue to shake Japan, more than two months after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that triggered massive tsunami, leaving 25,000 people dead or missing and creating a catastrophe at a coastal nuclear power plant.

    Five tremors in excess of magnitude 5.0 on the Richter scale have shaken Japan just this week.  But scientists are warning that the largest expected aftershock has yet to hit.  And, new, devastating inland quakes can also be expected.

    Japan hopes to never again hear these chilling words. An NHK announcer describing the scene on March 11 as a huge tsunami washes away homes, fishing trawlers and vehicles in coastal communities.

    But scientists are cautioning that a repeat for Japan - on a smaller scale - is not a matter of if, but when.

    After analyzing the magnitude 9.0 quake, scientists in Japan and the United States are making that sobering conclusion.

    Several studies indicate the descending Pacific Ocean plate and the overlying plate on which Japan sits, slipped past each other by up to 60 meters. The research indicates five portions of the fault - covering more than 600 kilometers - were ruptured in the quake. That forebodes more seismic activity.

    And, because the March 11 quake seems to have transferred stress along the same fault, some scientists are cautioning about a magnitude 8.0 closer to the Tokyo metropolitan area, home to more than 30 million people.

    However, others offer a wider geographical target, as far to the north as Hokkaido.

    A frequently cited time frame, by some of Japan’s most senior seismologists, is between now and the next ten months.

    However, professor Takeshi Sagiya at Nagoya University’s Research Center for Seismology, Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation is cautious about that narrow chronology.

    "I'm not quite sure about the basis of those specific kind of prediction about aftershocks," said Sagiya. "Those aftershocks happening are quite variable from place to place, from time to time.  It can happen with a month, or within days, from the main shock.  But also it can happen within some decades."

    Geophysicist Seth Stein of Northwestern University in the U.S. state of Illinois says the forecast intensity is in line with historical data but, like professor Sagiya, he is more comfortable expressing an extended timeline.

    "They are thinking of the possibility you could have a magnitude eight, which makes sense.  The largest aftershocks of an earthquake over the years around the world we've observed tend to be about one magnitude unit less than the main shock, more likely within months, but it could be years."

    Professor Sagiya of Nagoya University says the March 11 quake also “activated” inland faults.

    "They may be not as large as magnitude eight, but because they occur just beneath our cities, our house, they can be quite disastrous," said Sagiya.

    Professor Stein - a former editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research - agrees that as a result of the March 11 temblor - the fourth most powerful ever recorded - the quake risk has increased for Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active places.

    "We sometimes use this analogy of a kid's game called 'booby trap' where you have a bunch of little blocks and there's a spring piston and it pushes on them. And, once you disturb one piece then you increase the possibility that the other pieces are going to be pushed and slip also," said Stein. "So if you think of Japan in that way you can realize that once you've had a huge earthquake of this sort there's a chance that a lot of faults could have smaller earthquakes."

    Seismologists caution the public that their work is still an inexact science.  They note improvements for indicating where a big quake approximately will occur, but not when.

    They also acknowledge that this year’s huge magnitude 9.0 was not anticipated, looking at the historical data.

    That was also the case with the December 2004 earthquake off western Indonesia, which measured magnitude 9.3.

    That prompted seismologists and geologists to re-examine the world’s subduction zones, areas where oceanic plates slide beneath either a continental plate or another oceanic plate.

    Some of the researchers, analyzing fresh data, are now challenging the conventional thinking and willing to state that most, if not all, of the world’s subduction zones (more  than a dozen are recognized) are able to generate quakes equal to or exceeding magnitude 9.0.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora