Learning from Mega-Disasters: Earthquake Left Japan Shaking

Aftershocks continued to shake western Japan after the high magnitude earthquakes and tsunami devastations.
Learning from Mega-Disasters: Earthquake Left Japan Shaking

Aftershocks continued to shake western Japan after the high magnitude earthquakes and tsunami devastations. A series of powerful earthquakes that hit the Japan, a technologically developed country, left deaths in double digit, collapsed hundreds of buildings and evacuated more than on lakh residents.

After experiencing major earthquake Japanese expressed sorrow about their uncertain futures. Earthquake warnings are not exactly unusual in the Country. About 13 years back (11 March, 2011) Japan faced worst Tsunami. On the day, devastating earthquake and tsunami that triggered an accident at a nuclear plant Fukushima. Now the tsunami alarms are shaking residents of Ishikawa.     

Country Prone to Earthquakes:

Japan is located in a seismically active region and is prone to earthquakes. The country experiences thousands of earthquakes each year, although most of them are minor and go unnoticed. Country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is an area with a lot of tectonic activity, including frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The sub-diction of the Pacific Plate beneath the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate is a significant geological feature in the region, leading to the formation of deep ocean trenches and causing intense seismic activity. As a result, Japan has faced several devastating earthquakes in its history, including the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, which triggered a massive tsunami and led to significant loss of life and damage.

Due to the seismic risk, Japan has implemented strict building codes, early warning systems, and earthquake-resistant infrastructure to mitigate the impact of earthquakes and ensure the safety of its residents.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Damages:

Japan has implemented a comprehensive set of preventive measures to minimize the damages caused by earthquakes. These measures collectively aim to enhance the resilience of Japan's infrastructure and population in the face of earthquake risks. While it's not possible to completely eliminate the threat of earthquakes, these measures significantly reduce the potential impact and help protect lives and property.

Building Codes and Standards: Government has stringent building codes and standards that require structures to be earthquake-resistant. Buildings and infrastructure are designed to withstand seismic forces, and regular updates to these codes are made based on the latest research and technology.

Early Warning Systems: Country has a sophisticated earthquake early warning system. The system detects initial seismic waves to provide warnings seconds to minutes before the more damaging waves arrive. This allows people to take cover, machinery to shut down, and transportation systems to slow or stop.

Seismic Retrofitting: Older buildings that may not meet current earthquake resistance standards are often retrofitted to improve their ability to withstand seismic forces. This involves strengthening the structure by adding braces, base isolators, and other retrofitting techniques.

Public Education and Drills: Government conducts regular public education campaigns to inform people about earthquake preparedness and safety measures. Earthquake drills are also held in schools, workplaces, and communities to ensure that individuals know how to react during an earthquake.

Infrastructure Design: Critical infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels, and highways are designed to be earthquake-resistant. Engineers use advanced seismic engineering techniques to minimize the risk of damage during seismic events.

Land Use Planning: Zoning regulations and land use planning take into account seismic hazards. High-risk areas are often restricted from certain types of development, and building permits may be subject to additional scrutiny in seismically active zones.

Tsunami Warning Systems: Given Japan's coastal location, there is also a strong focus on tsunami preparedness. Tsunami warning systems are in place to alert coastal communities, and evacuation routes and shelters are established.

Research and Innovation: Japan invests in earthquake research and innovation to continuously improve its understanding of seismic hazards and develop new technologies and strategies for earthquake mitigation.

History of Major Earthquakes in Japan:

Great Kanto Earthquake (1923): This earthquake struck the Kanto region, including Tokyo and Yokohama, on September 1, 1923. It had a magnitude of 7.9 and caused widespread devastation, including fires that razed large parts of Tokyo and Yokohama. The death toll is estimated to be over 140,000.

Showa Sanriku Earthquake (1933): Occurring on March 2, 1933, off the Sanriku coast in the Tohoku region, this earthquake had a magnitude of 8.4. It triggered a destructive tsunami that caused significant damage along the Sanriku coastline. The death toll was approximately 3,000.

Great East Japan Earthquake (2011): On March 11, 2011, a massive undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. This earthquake generated a powerful tsunami that devastated coastal areas, causing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and resulting in significant loss of life and property. The overall casualties were over 15,000 people.

Series of earthquakes in Central Japan (2024): On the first day of new year (01, January, series of earthquakes with the 7.5 magnitude hits coastal areas of central Japan majorly in the Noto Peninsula of Ishkawa prefecture, collapsing hundreds of buildings, causing fires and triggering tsunami alerts.