Japan Earthquake 2011

By Shannon Barrrie

The causes of the Japan earthquake/overview


There was an earthquake caused off the coast of Honshu, Japan. With a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale on the 11th of March 2011.

The definition of earthquake

“A sudden release of energy in the earth's crust or upper mantle, usually caused by movement along a fault plane or by volcanic activity and resulting in the generation of seismic waves which can be destructive.”

The reasons for earthquakes

The causes of earthquakes are a sudden movement in tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are giant sheets of rock under the earth’s surface which are constantly moving but when there is a sudden movement an earthquake is created. There are three different types of plate movement where tectonic plates meet. There is a subduction fault; one plate is being pushed over another. A transformation fault; two plates sliding next to each other. A spreading zone; two plates pulling away from each other. Earthquakes happen along fault lines when two plates build up pressure from one plate staying still while another tries to move or a plate moves in an opposite direction. When the tectonic plates cannot stand the strain anymore the plate moves rapidly into a new positon this movement sends energy to the earth’s surface creating the movement. The energy sent out is in waves and are called seismic waves.

The reason for this earthquake

The reason for this earthquake was that there was subduction fault between the Eurasia plate and the pacific plate. The epicentre of the earthquake is located 38.297°N, 142.372°E. Which is 129km (80 miles) East of Sendia, Honshu , Japan. Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:46:24 pm at the epicentre was the exact time of the earthquake. The epicentre of the earthquake was at the depth under the ocean of 30km (18.6 miles).

The effects of the Japan earthquake

Tsunami and radiation

The nuclear disaster was caused when the nuclear powerplant was shutdown in preparation for the earthquake but once the tsunami wiped through breaking the backup cooling system the nuclear rods started to melt throught each vessel exposing the core materials in the middle. Once the core was exposed the radiation levels started to rise. The plant was evacuated with a 20km zone. The people living in those areas were told to evacuate. The radiation of local produce was increasing dangerously as were the levels in the ocean. Seven months after people were allowed back into their homes, but many did not come back fearing the radiation levels.

The tsunami was horrific it was travelling at the speed of 700km per hour the same as a jet plane, with three waves with the height of 38m. The tsunami just wipe away cities and town moving 10km in land. The tsunami also hit other countries such as Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Economic impacts

It was estimated that 841 000 people's jobs were affected by the disasters. Many business were distroyed and couldn't recover due to the expense of repairs.

Financial impacts

The financial impacts affected everyone involved. The Japanese government spent an estimated amount of 16-25 trillion yen on damages all over the country.

Social impacts

The social impacts associated in the Japan 2011. In the tsunami, earthquake and radiation a total of 12, 431 people died with 15, 153 people missing. More than 163, 000 people were evacuated from the effected areas. 164, 059 homes were without power with at least 170, 000 homes without water. Many work offices and buildings were distroyed the number of distroyed buildings added to around 46, 027.

Environmental impacts

The tsumami wiped out alot of farm land including horses and other animals. On the coast there wasn't a lot of land that wasn't inhabbited by humans. The use of the sea water to cool the nuclear plant effect the sea life dramaticly. Much of the sealife died including corals, fish and other marine life.

What people/communities can do to reduce the effects of earthquakes

Before earthquakes

Precautions before an earthquake can make a lot of difference to the safety of families, personal health and belongings. Some actions you can take in case of an earthquake are making an emergency kit, having easy communications (phone). Even when building and buying a house, build or look for strong sturdy foundations and structures, with no breaks or crakes in roofing if there are make sure to fix them. It’s a good idea to get an automatic gas shutoff which is triggered by strong vibrations. Repair any electrical wiring and gas pipe defaults fast for risks of fire damage. When storing or decorating keep heavy objects at the bottom of the storage area and keep heavy ordainments off walls near seating areas and beds. Keep important or heavy objects (computer, fridge) strapped or bolted down. Latches on cupboards are ideal specially when there are poisonous and flammable.

During earthquakes

When indoors and an earthquake strikes the best thing to do is drop, cover and hold on. This is the safety moto for earthquakes, it means to drop to the ground minimising being hurt by the fall. Cover means to take cover underneath something or cover your head and neck if there’s nothing to hide under. Hold on means to hold on to something to stay under something. Try to stay away from glass and if there’s falling objects and you’re not undercover crawl covering your neck and head to a safer location. In you are in bed remain in bed and cover your neck and head using a pillow. Don’t get in hallways, hallways have no protection from falling or flying objects. Stay inside the building during an earthquake study has shown more people die from trying to get out of the building then from staying inside. Don’t use elevators as they will most likely be shut down. Fire alarms and sprinkler systems might go in the earthquake. If outdoors try to move away from buildings and streets lights into the open then drop, cover and hold on. If you’re in a city this might not be possible so try and get somewhere where you can get away from falling debris. If inside a moving vehicle come to a stop trying to avoid stopping under electrical wires and buildings. Once the earthquake has finished proceed with caution as roads may have been damaged. Remember to never panic.

After earthquakes

If trapped under debris cover your mouth with cloth to avoid inhaling dangerous amounts of dust. Do not light any form of fire as there may be a gas leak or flammable object or gases. Try to get help through tapping on pipes or wall or use a whistle if available. Only shout as a last resort due to the dust. Once shaking has stopped beware there may be aftershocks normally less violent but still drop, cover and hold on. Extinguish any small fire if possible. If in a tsunami zone move to higher ground to avoid another disaster. If you had training assisted anyone in need. If your home has been damaged or is dangerous text shelter+ your zip code to find public facilities. In the clean make sure to wear safe clothing (long pants, boots, and gloves.) Check all gas, electrical, sewage and water utilities for damage.

Emergency check list

Battery-operated radio and torch

Candles and matches

First-aid and medications

Toiletries and a change of clothes

Strong shoes, leather gloves, hat

Water in sealed containers

Three-day supply of canned food

Nappies and food for babies (if needed)

Pet food, water bowl, leash or travel cage (if needed)

Camping stove with fuel

Tent or tarp

Woollen blankets or sleeping bags


Strong plastic bags (to keep things in)


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FARLEX. Earthquake. The free dictionary, 2014. Disponivel em: <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/earthquake>. Acesso em: 5 September 2014.

FEMA. Earthquakes. ready.gov, 2014. Disponivel em: <http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes >. Acesso em: 14 September 2014.

MASON, P. Earthquakes. [S.l.]: Macmillian education , 2011.

ROONEY, A. Earthquake! London : Franklin Watts , 2006.

JAPAN - The Earthquake - 15 Minutes Live-Cam
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