Tag Archives: tsunami

Disturbing time-lapse animation shows Japan earthquakes

The 9.0 (it seems this is the actual magnitude) earthquake that hit Japan on the 11th of March created an absolutely incredible number of aftershocks, some of which were pretty intense on their own. However, a few days before it, as stress built up the subduction area between the Pacific and North American plates, one could easily see some foreshocks too.

The 7.2 temblor, which was one of these foreshocks, struck Japan on March 9, and it was pretty strong on its own; however, since the big earthquake started, aftershocks continue to rattle Japan, and for the past days, pretty much every significant earthquake in the world took place in that area.

Just a few hours after it, there were 19 reported aftershocks, and the estimated number now is over 100. This was the 4th biggest earthquake ever to be recorded, and despite the fact that aftershocks seem to decrease in intensity, there is no indication of them stopping any time soon. Before this, since 1973, there were only 9 earthquakes bigger than 7.0 recorded in Japan – now that number has increased greatly.

Japan earthquake causing damage of £100 bln, still rising

The sad loss of over 10.000 people caused by the M8.9 earthquake and the tsunamis it generated is not the only problem Japanese people will have to deal with; this major disaster is also the most costly in world history, a “title” previously held by Katrina in the US, with an estimate of £77  billion but with way less deaths.

The disaster caused a 6.2 per cent drop in Japan’s Nikkei share index, wiping £90 billion off stocks and shares traded there, and although this is not the highest concern at all right now, it is yet another difficult task to handle; furthermore, a significant part of the world is economically addicted to Japan, so if they were to suffer a recession, probably the whole world would have to face another recession.

Andre Bakhos, the director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York, said: “The earthquake could have great implications on the global economic front. If you shut down Japan, there could be a global recession.”

The earthquake in Japan had an estimated magnitude of 8.9, making it one of the top five earthquakes ever to be recorded. The tsunamis it generated violently struck not only Japan, but other parts of the world as well, and because the electricity dropped in most of the country, several nuclear plants are in danger of a meltdown. So far, the deathtoll goes way beyond 10.000 people.

The lost city of Atlantis found, allegedly [FULL DOCUMENTARY]

Illustration via crystalinks (you can find more intriguing info on Atlantis there).

Some of you may remember the Google Earth Atlantis finding from a few years back that made rounds on the internet before eventually turning out to be just hot air. Tomorrow a new documentary is airing on National Geographic called Finding Atlantis which tells the story of Richard Freund’s work, a professor at the University of Hartford, Conn., and that of his international team of Atlantis-seekers.

According to Plato, the mythical city of Atlantis, hypothetically dated by scholars at around 9600 BC, was the foremost naval power of its time and place of prosperity and culture. It’s said that after a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune”. Archeologists, scientists, and even poets and painters have dwelt in its search and while it has inspired our imagination throughout history, we’ve yet to found any conclusive evidence of its existence.

Professor Freund and his team claim they have this piece of evidence, after finding a submerged city just north of Cadiz, Spain, very near the Strait of Gibraltar where Atlantis is mythically placed on all accounts, including Plato. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.

“We found something that no one else has ever seen before, which gives it a layer of credibility, especially for archeology, that makes a lot more sense,” Freund said.

Archeologists used satellite photography, ground-penetrating radar, and underwater technology, to find the lost site, along with artifacts dating from around the time of the said lost city of Atlantis. What’s very curious however is that, regarding the theory of its disappearance, scientists seem to agree that in the event the city actually existed Atlantis very likely was swept away by a tsunami!

“This is the power of tsunamis,” head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters.

“It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that’s pretty much what we’re talking about,” said Freund

Freund believes that the residents of Atlantis managed to escape the tsunami and created more Atlantis-type settlements in the central regions of Spain. He bases this on his discovery of several more so-called memorial cities 150 miles inland from what he now believes might be the original Atlantis.

UPDATE: Check out the full documentary below. 


Small hilltop city becomes refuge for earthquake and tsunami survivors

In the aftermath of the earthquake that violently struck Japan and the tsunamis it generated, the small, industrial city of Hitachi emerged unscathed from what Prime Minister Naoto Kan has described as Japan’s “worst crisis since the Second World War”, making it somewhat of a refuge for the hordes of refugees that flooded from many parts of the country.

How the city managed to escape unharmed from the seismic disaster is credited to its topography – basically the city was built on some a higher ground. The Friday temblor, which ravaged the entire country and created several aftershocks and tsunamis is estimated to have killed at least 10.000 people, and will probably cause additional deaths. In Hitachi, however, things are very different.

“We were so lucky really. I haven’t heard of any serious injuries amongst people I know,” says a security guard keeping watch outside the Hitachi Futo shipping company’s lot in the city’s harbor.

As aftershocks and tsunamis continue to rattle the area, more and more people continue to move to this lucky town – several thousands of refugees are now literally at the gates of the city, waiting and hoping for shelter, and a steady roof above their heads.

Before and After: satellite imaging shows the depth of Japan earthquake devastation

In its wake, the Japan 8.9 Richter scale devastating earthquake and the huge tsunami that was produced by it left inimaginable damage. Homes simply stripped apart, farm areas swept away by the water, airports raised, nuclear power plants dangerously shaken and a concerning death toll made the world tremble and reinforced the idea that nature is the master of this fine planet. Below you can watch a set of satellite images presenting different up-view landscapes, be it farm land or an urban zone, as interesting as they are frighting.

Central Ishinomaki in 2003 and after. (c) Google

To help illustrate the damaging power of the quake and the ensuing tsunami, Google has compiled a collection of high-resolution before-and-after satellite images that depict the areas affected most by the devastation, a few of which you can find in this article, rest of which lye here.

“We’re working to provide this data directly to response organizations on the ground to aid their efforts,” Ryan Falor, Google Crisis Response team, said in a Google Lat Long Blog post. “We hope this new updated satellite imagery is valuable for them as well as everyone else following this situation to help illustrate the extent of the damage.”

Yuriage in Natori in 2008 and after. (c) Google

Arahama in Sendai in 2008 and today. (c) Google

Ueda in Iwaki, Samegawa 2005 and now. (c) Google

Fukushima nuclear plant in 2004 and now. (c) Google

ndustrial site just south of Fukushima I power plant in 2004 and now. (c) Google

Sendai airport in 2003 and now. (c) Google

For an interactive similar video check out NYTimes recent feature on the subject where you can find similarly edifying before/after examples that transition through the help of a slide. Definitely worth checking out.

Japan Earthquake causes Earth axis to tilt – shortens day!

As a consequence of last Friday’s devastating earthquake near the coast of Japan, the nation’s most powerful recorded earthquake to date actually since it began archiving results in the late 1800, scientists have assessed that the Earth axis has tilted by a few inches and that the chronological day has been shortened by a millionth of a second.

The link and explination of the phenomena from above to the recent earthquake/tsunami is that the shift of tectonic plates beneath the Pacific Ocean opened up a crack about 250 miles long, causing a good portion of Earth’s crust to tumble inside.

“There was a redistribution of an enormous amount of the Earth’s crust,” theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, with the City College of New York, told Discovery News. “It actually shortened the time of the day, and also shifted the axis of the Earth.”

“We know how much the Earth contracted as consequence of that, then you do the math,” Kaku said.

We all live busy lives, however I don’t think someone’s going to miss that millionth of a second we just lost for the days to come. What might prove to have the slightest of effects is the Earth’s axis tilt, which scientists apparently link to ice ages.

“There is still a scientific debate as to what causes ice ages,” Kaku said. “The leading theory is that there are tiny perturbations in the axis of the Earth as it turns around the sun that accumulate with time. These small shifts, this wobbling of the axis of the Earth may in fact cause ice ages.”

“Every century, we have several of these monster earthquakes so it’s hard to estimate exactly how much of an impact this earthquake would have on an ice age, for example,” Kaku added.

[image via clipartheaven. story via discovery]

Brilliant picture shows tsunamis estimated heights

This picture, created by a computer model at NOAA displays the expected heights of the tsunamis created by the 8.9 earthquake in Japan (which may be “upgraded” to 9.0 – calculating magnitudes is a pretty delicate issue).

Of course the largest wave heights are expected near the epicenter, off the coast of Sendai, Honshu, Japan. Generally speaking, the heights will decline with distance, but the near-shore heights will also decrease; for example coastal Hawaii will not expect heights of that encountered in coastal Japan.

The earthquake is one of the most powerful ever to be recorded, and it took most geophysicists and geologists by surprise, as almost nobody was expecting an event of this magnitude. Tsunamis caused even more damage, and things can get significantly worse for Japan (and not only) if the meltdown of several affected nuclear plants isn’t prevented. It seems however that the Japanese are handling the situation very well, and everybody is doing everything they can to limit the damage, and most of all, casualties.

Renowned Geophysicist explains Japan tsunami

If you’re looking for an easy to understand scientific explanation about the formation of the devastating quake and tsunami that devastated Japan this Friday, you’d better read Dr. John Ebel‘s theory from below, Professor of geophysics and director of Weston Observatory of Boston College.

“We had an earthquake caused by the Pacific Ocean plate sliding under the Asian plate and as it slides under the Asian plate is pushed up…any time you move the ocean floor up or down you induce a tsunami in the ocean. Tsunamis travel fast when the ocean is deep they travel slowly when the ocean is shallow. When the ocean is deep, the wave spreads out so you have maybe a foot high wave that’s spread out hundreds of miles and it’s traveling at literally 500 miles an hour.”

Dr. Ebel says at those speeds land masses close to the epicenter like the Japanese island of Honshu had only minutes to prepare where as Hawaii and the west coast had hours. “When you get to islands like Hawaii which are thousands of miles away you have hours and hours of warning…they had about 6 or 8 hours of warning.”

Just like a single rain drop spreads across a pond a tsunami circumnavigates the globe. “Tide gages for instance in Mobile Bay and on the Gulf coast will register a very small recording probably tonight or early tomorrow morning from this tsunami. It will spread through all the ocean basins.”

On the same wavelength, Dr. Ebel says that it’s very possible strong aftershocks could be experienced within the next few days or weeks. Some could even be large enough that another small tsunami is generated…

Donate to tsunami victims in Japan

The recent tsunami wave that hit the Japanese coast this Friday simply devastated the countries costal areas. Besides the actual casualties (now reported to around 1,700), there are a few thousand people still isolated (footage of Japanese citizens stranded on rooftops have been circulating everywhere recently) and thousands more left homeless.

The Japanese Government and the countless other nations that have flown down help are doing their best to help these people, but you can play a part in this as well. If you’re willing to lend a hand for the unfortunate, the easiest way is to donate.

The fastest and easiest way to help the victims of this devastating disaster is to text REDCROSS to 90999 from your cellphone. This donates $10.00 to the Red Cross. A $10.00 charge will appear on your cell phone bill.

If you prefer t0 donate view the web just go to www.globalgiving.org and click on Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Choose from an amount of $25, $50 or $75 dollars and click “give now”. After you click on “give now”, you will be directed to a page to edit your donation amount, if you so desire.

Another simple way to help to the disaster relief in Japan is to contact a local non-profit organization in your country that you publicly know offers help to those in need in Japan. Be careful not to get scammed though – there are a lot of people willing to profit from other people’s misfortunes.

The Internet’s response to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami

An immediate CNN.com reporting the Japanese quake and tsunami

In the wake of Japan’s most devastating recorded earthquake to date, the nation of the rising sun is still left in shock. Hundreds were killed, many more left homeless, countless financial damage and entire cities left with electricity – it might even get a heck of a lot worse. Another big issue is the telecom failure which makes phone communication practically impossible  – this is when the people turn to the internet.

In Tokyo alone, twitter reports that 1,200 minutes are been sent per minute, providing an insightful overview towards the escalation of the event. On facebook, you can imagine things are more intense, but due to its private nature it provides little to no insights. Ushahidi built a database to help those offering aid connect to those in need.


View Japan Earthquake – March 11 in a larger map

Within a few hours after the calamity, Google immediately launched applications that try to direct, connect and help people near the disaster zone and their loved ones overseas as well. The first useful app is a special Google Maps crisis report that has exact positions of affected locations,  shelters in Tokyo, the earthquake’s epicenter and more. The Google owned YouTube has a channel up called CitizenTube, where you can watch raw footage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Also, Google launched Person Finder— a tool that allows users to both report a missing person as well as enter any information they have on a missing person. It displays in English and Japanese and at moment I’m writing this, it has more than 58,000 records in its database. On the app you can either specify whether you’re looking for someone or post information about a missing person. A lot of worried family members in the states for example used this get in contact with loved ones based in Japan after seeing they’re unreachable on the phone.

On Wikipedia, a group of contributors opened a page detailing important information relating to the Japan earthquake. Twelve hours since the earthquake hit, that page has been edited more than 500 times and is rife with information, including other affected areas and international response.

Ten years ago, this couldn’t have been possible, but now with the help of the internet’s social media not only can people can get informed, they can also help and be helped through it. The internet never ceases to amaze me.

Radiation Level at Fukushima nuclear plant is 1000 times over accepted level after earthquake

The damage caused by the 8.9 earthquake in Japan is far from being over – asa matter of fact, unfortunately, it may very well just be starting. The earthquake and the tsunamis it created cut down power supply throughout a major part of Japan, and so the cooling system of several power plants was unable to do its job.

As a result, the radiation level at the Fukishima power plant is about 1000 times bigger than the accepted level, and technicians are desperately trying to figure out ways to prevent a meltdown, which would have catastrophic results; one way to do this would be to release steam that has been vaporized by heat from the nuclear core, which would lower the pressure, and thus, the temperature.

“It’s possible that radioactive material in the reactor vessel could leak outside but the amount is expected to be small and the wind blowing towards the sea will be considered,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

The earthquake which shook Japan to its very core caused all sorts of issues, and this latest nuclear problem is extremely hard to tackle. The good news however, is that eleven reactors close to the epicenter shut themselves down when they sensed the earthquake.

“Reactors shut themselves down automatically when something called ‘ground acceleration’ is registered at a certain point, which is usually quite small. It will instantly drop control rods into the [nuclear] core,” Professor Tim Albram, a nuclear fuel engineer at the University of Manchester in the U.K., explained to the press.

How this whole situation will be handled remains to be seen, but things seem pretty dire at the moment; hopefully though, there will be no further complications, as Japan has already seen too many during these two days.

Japan in more trouble after an explosion at a nuclear plant

The earthquake that occured yesterday near the coast of Japan, the 4th most powerful earthquake ever to be recorded, is causing even more problems, after the direct damage, the aftershocks, the tsunamis, and the fire tsunamis; this time, things can get way, way bigger and worse, and the disaster toll keeps rising.

An explosion at a nuclear power plant destroyed a nuclear power station created fears that the a disastrous meltdown could happen, which would definitely cause a huge number of human casualties not only in Japan, but in neighbouring areas as well. The explosion was caused by the earthquake and the tsunamis that devastated Japan, and caused (by now) an estimated number of 1300 deaths, already.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the one in case, caused worries that led to an immediate evacuation of all the workers and people in the area, but experts have yet to find out what lies behind this explosion.

“We are now trying to analyze what is behind the explosion,” said government spokesman Yukio Edano, stressing that people should quickly evacuate a six-mile (10-kilometer) radius. “We ask everyone to take action to secure safety.”

The trouble began after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the tsunamis it created knocked out all electricity from the area. Other disturbing news is that the Kyodo news agency said rail operators lost contact with four trains yesterday, and still haven’t found them today. Japan has also declared states of emergency for five other nuclear reactors, all of which are in danger of exploding after they lost their cooling ability.

Further heartbreaking information about the Japan earthquake + info on threatened areas

The earthquake that struck Japan is much worse than original estimates ! The original 7.9 magnitude actually just got upgraded to 8.9, which makes it 10 times more powerful, and the 4th most powerful earthquake in the past 100 years.

Sadly, reports of injured and killed people keep coming in, and will likely not stop for a long time, especially as the earthquake hit some refineries, causing several deadly fires, and to make matters even worse, there are reports of actual tsunamis actually catching fire !

Here is a time map of the threatened areas, if you are in one of them, PLEASE BE PREPARED !  Sirens in Hawaii are already ringing, but there is also a warning for Russia, Guam, Taiwan, Marshall Islands and Wake Islands, so if you are in one of those areas, or know anyone who is there, be prepared for it

Also, Al Jazeera is doing a way better job at live coverage than American television, so you can watch live streaming here – but it’s not for the faint of heart. I just watched several people trying to run from the tsunami… but didn’t make it.

It breakes my heart to see something like this happen, and it’s a testament of what nature can do, even to one of the most developed countries in the world, which is used to earthquakes by now, and always prepared for them. We’ll keep you posted as things continue to develop.

Picture sources: 1 2

Massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, creates tsunami

It’s been a busy tectonic month, and things aren’t about to chill down. A massive 7.9 magnitude Earthquake has just hit the Northern coast of Japan, triggering a more than four meter tall tsunami that wiped down cars and other property along the coastline, but it’s still unclear how many people were injured or killed. What is also unclear, and shocking to me, is that in the rush of events, some sources reported the earthquake as having a magnitude of 8.9, which would make the earthquake 10 times more powerful.

The national broadcaster, NHK, showed footage of dozens of cars and ferries being washed up on the beach, but additional details are still unavailable. The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific Japanese coast, and residents in the coastal areas have been urged to evacuate and more deeper inland, to higher grounds.

The earthquake, which took place in the Earth’s crust, struck about 125 km off the northern coast, at an estimated depth of 10 km, and is expected to generate further tsunamis with waves of 6-7 meters, especially in the Miyagi Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, where the earthquake’s intensity was 7.

Earthquake’s magnitude and intensity should not be confused, as the magnitude measures the amount of energy released by the earthquake, so it’s the same for everybody in the world, while intensity refers to the felt intensity and damage caused by an earthquake, so this varies from area to area for the same event.

The biggest tsunami ever recorded was taller than 500 meters

On the night of July 9, 1958, an earthquake struck Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle. The result was that about 30.6 million cubic meters of rock were loosened, being thrown from a height of 914 meters down onto the water mass. Here’s a picture so that you can get a perspective on what that means:


The impact generated a tsunami that crashed against the shoreline of Gilbert Inlet. The water hit with such power that it totally destroyed the spur of land that separates Gilbert Inlet from the main body of Lituya Bay and continued its road towards the Gulf of Alaska. It destroyed all vegetation from elevations as high as 500 meters, uprooting millions of trees. It is the biggest wave ever known to man.


Israel, in danger of being hit by tsunamis

tsunami3Dr. Beverly Goodman of the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa was doing some research on the ancient port and shipwrecks of the place, when she stumbled upon information that led her to this conclusion.

“There is a likely chance of tsunami waves reaching the shores of Israel. Tsunami events in the Mediterranean do occur less frequently than in the Pacific Ocean, but our findings reveal a moderate rate of recurrence.”

“We expected to find the remains of ships, but were surprised to reveal unusual geological layers the likes of which we had never seen in the region before. We began underwater drilling assuming that these are simply local layers related to the construction of the port. However, we discovered that they are spread along the entire area and realized that we had found something major”

What they did is they drilled at various depths and proceeded to date the layers they found, using two methods: everybody’s friend carbon-14 dating and OSL (optically stimulated luminescence). They found evidence of tsunamis in 1500 BC, 100-200 CE, 500-600 CE, and 1100-1200 CE. There is still much we still have to learn about tsunamis, especially as more and more areas seem vulnerable to their threat. However, this exact need may be what gives researchers the push they need to find out methods of protection.

Innovative method improves tsunami warning systems

In case you don’t know, a tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced. Earthquakes, mass movements above or below water, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions, landslides, underwater earthquakes, large meteoroid or asteroid impacts and testing with nuclear weapons at sea all have the potential to generate a tsunami. A tsunami can be unobservable, but it can just as well be devastating. Recent disasters showed how unprepared we were for them, so scientists have been trying to do something to improve the warning systems.

Studies conducted by NASA on tsunamis revealed an innovative method which could achieve that goal, and a potentially groundbreaking theory on the source of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In one study, published last fall in Geophysical Research Letters, researcher Y. Tony Song of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., demonstrated that real-time data from NASA’s network of global positioning system (GPS) stations can detect ground motions preceding tsunamis and reliably estimate a tsunami’s destructive potential within minutes, well before it reaches coastal areas. Conventional methods rely on estimates of an earthquake’s magnitude to determine whether a large tsunami will be generated but earthquake magnitude is not always a good thing to rely on.

This method estimates the energy that an undersea earthquake transfers to the ocean and generates data from coastal GPS stations near the epicenter. With the data, ocean floor displacements caused by the earthquake can be inferred.

“Tsunamis can travel as fast as jet planes, so rapid assessment following quakes is vital to mitigate their hazard,” said Ichiro Fukumori, a JPL oceanographer not involved in the study. “Song and his colleagues have demonstrated that GPS technology can help improve both the speed and accuracy of such analyses.”

To test his method, Song examined three historical tsunamis using well documented data: Alaska in 1964; the Indian Ocean in 2004; and Nias Island, Indonesia in 2005. He was able to replicate all three. Co-author C.K. Shum of Ohio State University said the study suggests horizontal faulting motions play a much more important role in tsunami generation than previously believed.

“If this is found to be true for other tsunamis, we may have to revise some early views on how tsunamis are formed and where mega tsunamis are likely to happen in the future,” he said.

Hopefully this method is going to do better and disasters like the one in 2004 will be avoided [edit: it didn’t work out so fine, in 2012, a massive earthquake hit Japan, generating a massive tsunami that caused significant damage].

Giant Wave Experiment Reveals Poorly Understood Behavior Of Tsunamis

People, as a society, find it hard to learn from their mistakes. Since the tragic events caused by tsunamis we have not been able to shelter ourselves from them. But this doesn’t mean researchers are just hanging around – on the contrary. Many scientists are working and they are trying to understand the exact mechanism of how a tsunami is formed; this could mean saving lives and preventing environmental and structural damage.

They do this by making mini-tsunamis in Oregon. A tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced. Earthquakes, mass movements above or below water, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions, landslides, large meteorite impacts and testing with nuclear weapons at sea all have the potential to generate a tsunami. The effects of a tsunami can range from unnoticeable to devastating.

Their focus is the incoming rush of water and they are ignoring the effect of the powerful forces that a tsunami wave can exert on the earth beneath when it draws back into the ocean.

“This was the first experiment of this kind and it will allow us to develop a realistic model to show us what really happens to the sand during a tsunami,” said Yin Lu “Julie” Young, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Places like Hawaii lack buildings which are able to resist the force of a tsunami and that brings danger.

“This is absolutely necessary in a place like Waikiki because in the event of a tsunami there is no place to run,” she said. “It is too populated and the near-shore bathymetry is too flat. The building has to stay intact so that people can evacuate vertically.”.

Their interest is enhanced sediment transport and potential “liquefaction” of the soil, which occurs when a tsunami wave recedes.

They are trying to establish “performance-based tsunami engineering”. This means that they are searching for guidelines for building structures which are able to resist tsunamis. The problem is that there are a lot of variables in the dynamics of sand and water, according to Young. “Sediment transport during tsunamis hasn’t been studied well at all,” said Young. “We plan to use this research to create a benchmark test that everyone can use to compare their numerical predictions. Ultimately we want to come up with a design procedure that can give a sense of the risk and the reliability of a structure and its foundation.”. This should be a big step in shielding from this and reducing the damage from tsunami.