Wednesday, March 23, 2011

After the disaster

It was huge. What more is there to say? Japan was prepared as the big one has been expected for a long time. Still, the M 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated the whole coast line. Natural disasters always strike out of the blue no matter how well prepared a country is. Total preparedness will never happen and zero vulnerability is a dream that will never come trough. This applies to Japan as it applies to a small scale natural disaster that struck western Norway a couple of days ago. Two people died in a snow and mud avalanche

Composite disaster are characterized by additional major hazards and disasters following the main trigger. In San Francisco in 1906 the fires that were started in the wake of the earthquake destroyed huge areas, as was the case in Tokyo after the 1923 Kanto earthquake. Almost half of Tokyo was destroyed by the flames. In addition, tsunamis are relatively common following major earthquakes below oceans, like in Asia in 2004, Chile 2010, or in Japan. What makes the current situation in Japan different is the possible consequences for the reconstruction if the nuclear disaster escalates.

I the mean time geologists try to understand the earthquakes and wait to see if the fault line that was active in 1923 can be reactivated. The activity in the main fault in the Japan Trench is still high, with more that 230 registered earthquakes the last week. Three earthquakes with M >6.4 occurred yesterday. 

 Earthquakes in Japan the last week.

Cities always rebuild after major natural disasters, but it remains to be seen what will happen near the nuclear plants in Japan.

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