Saturday, March 31, 2012

Japan: Quake/Tsunami Risks Greater Than Previously Thought



Credit Wikipedia

# 6255


We’ve two seismic studies announced today in Japan - one regarding Tokyo’s vulnerability to a major earthquake and the other on the tsunami risk that would result from an offshore earthquake in the Nankai Trough.


Both substantially escalate the amount of damage that could be expected over previous estimates.


First stop, the Nankai quake scenario, as reported by the Japan Times.



20-meter tsunami projected from Honshu to Kyushu

Nankai quake scenario menaces Pacific coast


Wide swaths of the Pacific coastline stretching from Honshu to Kyushu may be hit by tsunami over 20 meters high if a newly feared megaquake occurs in the Nankai Trough, a Cabinet Office panel warned Saturday.

(Continue . . . )



Kuroshio, Kochi Prefecture could see a tsunami up to 34.4 meters (112 feet, or as high as a 10 story building), while parts of Shizuoka, Kochi and Miyazaki prefectures could see tidal waves of 10 to 20 meters.


Such an earthquake could send tsunami waves towards other Pacific shorelines, as well.


The second announcement comes from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) which has determined that the fault line lying under Tokyo is shallower than previously thought, and capable of producing more damage than had been earlier estimated.

This report from Reuters:


Major quake impact on Tokyo could be worse than thought-study

31 Mar 2012 09:10

Source: reuters // Reuters

TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - The impact on Tokyo from a major quake could be much more devastating than the government has predicted, a new study shows.


The study by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology comes just over a year after one of the biggest tremors on record struck Japan'se northeast coast, triggering a massive tsunami and the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

(Continue . . .)



You may recall that a couple of months ago (see Academics Debate Odds Of Tokyo Earthquake) we saw a report indicating that some scientists believe that the odds of a major earthquake striking Tokyo (previously estimated at 70% within 30 years) are overly optimistic, and that there is a 70% chance of a major Tokyo quake in the next four years.


And last year, in Divining Japan’s Seismic Future, I wrote about the most widely anticipated seismic event for Japan - the Tokai Earthquake – expected to be an 8+ magnitude, and forecast to occur between the Bay of Suruga and Cape Omasezaki in Shizuoka Prefecture sometime in the near future.




Major earthquakes have occurred in this region every 100-150 years, with the most recent recorded in 1498, 1605, 1707 and 1854.


That puts the Tokai region 157 years since their last major quake, and in the estimation of Dr Kiyoo Mogi – Japan’s leading seismologist – well overdue for another.   In 1969, Dr Mogi began warning that the Tokai area was particularly vulnerable, and today the area is monitored continually by the JMA.


Which is why the Prime Minister of Japan called upon Chubu Electric to shut down its No. 4 and No. 5 reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear plant last May, located roughly 200 km south-west of Tokyo.


While all of this is of greatest concern to those living in Japan, a major earthquake in one of the great cities of the world would not only be a horrendous human tragedy, it could cause economic repercussions around the globe.


In two blogs from last year we looked at the possible ripple effects of `Global Shocks’.


Last December in DFID: World Unprepared For Future Shocks  the UK’s DFID (Department for International Development) warned that with global economies in turmoil, and recessionary fears continuing to spread, finding money for many relief, humanitarian, or other worthwhile projects becomes more difficult.


And last July, in (OECD Report: Future Global Shocks), where we looked at a 139 page report  released by the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) that warned - as the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent - that `Global Shocks’ to the world economy become more likely.


In the report, they define a Global Shock as: a rapid onset event with severely disruptive consequences covering at least two continents.


They write:

Extremely disruptive events, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, financial crises and political revolutions destabilize critical systems of supply, producing economic spillovers that reach far beyond
their geographical point of origin.


While such extreme events have been relatively rare in the past, they seem poised to occur with greater frequency in the future. Global interconnections accompanying economic integration enable some risks to propagate rapidly around the world.



The bottom line here is that the world is now so interconnected – that while most disasters are localized - their economic and societal impacts can be felt thousands of miles away and can persist for months.


Of course Japan doesn’t have the market cornered when it comes to disasters; the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world are all capable of producing equally disruptive global shocks.  


Ultimately, a nation’s resilience in the face of a major crisis –whether it be local or global - comes from the bottom up, not from the top down.


Which is why agencies, like the ones below, urge greater individual, family, and community preparedness.






A few of my preparedness blogs from the past include:


When 72 Hours Isn’t Enough

Planning To Survive

An Appropriate Level Of Preparedness

In An Emergency, Who Has Your Back?

The Gift Of Preparedness: 2011