Japan Update : Top Stories of 2011 : Lessons From the Great Quake

earthquake!Jennifer Barone in Discover Magazine 

The magnitude 9 earthquake that shook Japan on March 11 dragged parts of the country 15 feet eastward and moved some seafloor transponders up to 230 feet, the largest earthquake-induced surface displacement ever recorded. More than 20,000 people died, most as a result of the tsunami that hit the coastline a half-hour after the quake. Although Japan has the world’s most advanced earthquake-monitoring system, few researchers had expected a quake of such magnitude. Discover asked Earth scientists and disaster-preparedness experts about the top lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Here is what they said:

– Take the very long view. Models of earthquake risk in Japan were based on a 400-year historical record, but paleoseismic records suggest quakes of this size occur in the country’s Tohoku region every thousand years or so. “If your thinking is based on the last few hundred years, and you haven’t captured a representative time frame for that system, you’re going to be surprised,” says Mark Simons, a geophysicist at Caltech who studied the dynamics of the quake.

– Watch the seafloor. Japan’s earthquake-monitoring network includes 1,200 GPS sensors that track the deformation of the Earth’s crust to help researchers measure and locate the buildup of seismic strain, but these devices do not work underwater. This is a serious limitation: Like 90 percent of all earthquakes greater than magnitude 8, Japan’s temblor happened at sea. Studying movement of the ocean floor currently requires installing acoustic transponders on the bottom and sending a research vessel out to ping them, which can cost half a million dollars per data point. “Land-based measurements have been the cheap answer,” says Georgia Tech geophysicist Andrew Newman, “but a buoy with a GPS and satellite communications could take the place of a ship and help us get more frequent seafloor measurements more affordably.”

Source :  http://discovermagazine.com/2012/jan-feb/15


2004 Tsunami : What did we learn from Nature and ourselves? A case for groups like NAEE…

Phuket tsunami signal
Image via Wikipedia

“Teachers and schools could play a role in increasing local communities’ ability to deal with disasters”. Yes, indeed, but need to be supported to engage with adequate resources – the importance of groups such as NAEE – http://twitter.com/#!/NAEE_UK

Thais and foreigners gathered in six tsunami-hit provinces 26 December to commemorate the anniversary of the deadly giant waves that ravaged the Andaman coast seven years ago, killing thousands and shocking the world. From ‘The Nation’ newspaper | http://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature and http://twitter.com/#!/NAEE_UK

Religious rituals were conducted at many sites in dedication to those who lost their lives.

“I miss my dad. I hope such a disaster will never happen again,” nine-year-old Hatchai Noophom said. His father was among at least 8,000 killed or lost in Thailand.

Grief still filled the air as relatives of the victims laid down flowers at the Tsunami Wall of Remembrance in Phuket yesterday.

The anniversary also brought attention to the need for disaster preparedness.

In Phuket’s Kathu, provincial officials and others held activities to raise public awareness about disasters and to push for better preparation.

At a seminar there, Foundation of National Disaster Warning Council chairman Dr Smith Dhammasaroj said curriculum material would ensure that students from upper |primary levels learn about disasters including tsunamis, landslides, forest fires and floods.

“Students should be encouraged to study about disasters that often |hit their area because the knowledge will raise their level of preparedness,” the disaster official said.

But Assoc Prof Dr Seree Supharatid, who heads the Centre on Climate Change and Disaster |at Rangsit University, said curricula so far failed to include disaster content. “This is despite the fact that the tsunami hit hard seven years ago.”

Seree said learning materials should equip children with survival skills, and an awareness that in times of crisis there would be no electricity or cell-phone signals to rely on.

Dr Amornwich Nakornthap, an academic adviser to the Quality Learning Foundation, said teachers and schools could play a role in increasing local communities’ ability to deal with disasters.

In Ranong, provincial disaster prevention and mitigation chief Chasan Kongruang said the early-warning system was comprehensive now following the 2004 tsunami. “If giant waves are to hit again, we should be able to avoid huge losses.”

He added that evacuation drills had also been conducted to ensure locals knew where to run for safety in times of emergency.

Source : http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/2004-Tsunami-remembered-amid-debate-on-disasters-30172701.html