WHEN EAST MEETS WEST
Commentary By Hank F. Miller Jr.
The magnitude of Friday's 8.8 earthquake that jolted northeastern Japan was caused by a tectonic upheaval that created offshore faults stretching for hundreds of kilometers from Iwate Prefecture to Ibrakai, seismologist said on Saturday evening. As i watched N H K TV, Satoko Oki of the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute said the massive quake, estimated to be nearly 1,000 times more powerful than the 1995 Great Honshin Earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people, was caused by a rupture near the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The earthquake was created when the Pacific plate slipped underneath Japan at the Japan Trench, causing a tsunami as high as 10 meters to slam the east coast.
Experts estimate the the impact of the world's fifth largest earthquake caused a displacement of about 20 meters and a fault a few hundred kilometers long. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake was 373 kilometer northeast of Tokyo and 130 kilometers east of Sendai.
Japan's seismic risk map indicates there was a 99% percent risk of a magnitude of 7.5 or greater earthquake hitting the region in the next 30 years. Oki also said that while quake eruptions at plate boundaries are relatively common, one of this magnitude was expected.
"Magnitude-8.8 really an enormous quake, the largest ever measured in Japan's vicinity," she said.
Satoko Oki also warned that increases in seismic activity, especially of the inland type, have been historically noted before and following plate boundary earthquakes, although she said it was difficult to determine whether it had any relation to the magnitude-6.7 earthquake that hit Nagano and Niigata prefectures early Saturday.
"Plate boundry earthquakes happen every 100 years or so,but one of this magnitude happens only once in 1,000 years."
The sun rose on utter devastation Saturday morning. Tsunami triggered by Friday's killer earthquake tore whole towns to leave only mangled debris and broken hearts along with it.Nothing could stop the terrifying waves that within seconds destroyed buildings and entire streets,reducing what used to be thriving communities into burning piles of shattered wood,glass and rubble.
Whole rice paddy fields and farms that had provided livelihoods for many were transformed into saltwater lagoons, the landscape unrecognizable from before the torrents of seawater thundered across the land.I saw on NHK TV,A commuter train lay strewn across a broken muddy landscape in Fukushima Prefecture,one of the areas worst hit by the tsunami.More than10,000 people feared dead are missing in the town of Minami-Sanri-Ku Machi, that's the whole towns population all was wiped out.
Across the earthquake devastated area it's difficult to say at this time just how many lives have been lost.Most of the problem being is people build their houses so close to the sea and there are many narrow alley ways between houses.Houses can fall on one another blocking any escape routes and the infrastructure must be changed there is to much overcrowding More wider spaces between houses are needed. People build their homes to close to each other here.People also build houses around dangerous industrial sites etc.
Streets and roads must be widened in most cities and in the countryside of Japan the streets and roads are just wide enough for one car to pass they are just to narrow.City governments must plan emergency routes with several lanes for passing.
City governments must adopt more strict ordinances and building codes for contractors to follow.In most areas in the country and cities the infrastructure thats in place now is from pre World War II. Its old not well constructed and out of date.
This is one reason for so much mortifying scenes of epic devastation that you can see on the television caused by this earthquake.
Warm Regards ,Best Wishes from Kitakyushu City ,Japan.
Hank F. Miller Jr.