Case Study Japan Tsunami 2011 Wikipedia France

DateMarch 11, 2011 (2011-03-11)
Origin time05:46:23 UTC
Magnitude9.0 Mw[1]
Depth20 mi (32 km)
Epicenter38°19′19″N142°22′08″E / 38.322°N 142.369°E / 38.322; 142.369Coordinates: 38°19′19″N142°22′08″E / 38.322°N 142.369°E / 38.322; 142.369
Areas affectedJapan
Total damageFlooding, landslides, fires, building and infrastructure damage, nuclear incidents including radiation releases
Peak acceleration0.35g
TsunamiYes (10+ metres)
AftershocksMany (more than 1021, 63+ above 6.0 MW)
Casualties15,890 deaths
6,152 injured
2,590 missing

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami was a 9.0-magnitudeearthquake followed by tsunami waves.[2] It was measured at 8.4 on the JMAseismic intensity scale[3][4] The earthquake happened 130 kilometres (81 mi) off Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, on the east coast of the Tōhoku of Japan, on March 11, 2011 at 05:46:23 UTC. It was at a depth of 24.4 km (15.2 miles).[5] It was the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history.[6] It was also the fourth most powerful earthquake on Earth since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

On 10 February 2015, the Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,890 deaths, 6,152 injured, and 2,590 people missing.[7]

Earthquake[change | change source]

Days before the main earthquake, there were several foreshocks. The biggest one was a 7.2 magnituge, the earthquake on 9 March, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the main earthquake's location.

The United States Geological Survey said the centre of the earthquake was 373 kilometres (232 mi) from Tokyo. A 7.7 aftershock happened 30 minutes following the first quake. There have been more than 600 aftershocks bigger than magnitude 4.5 or more.[8]

The earthquake damaged buildings and started fires. The Shinkansen high speed bullet trains were stopped and Haneda Airport was closed after the quake.[9] Various train services around Japan were also stopped. Hundreds of flights to Japan were cancelled due to the earthquake and tsunami, affecting many people.[10] A large fire broke out at an oil refinery in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture.

The nuclear power plants shut down automatically. At first the Japanese Prime Minister said that no radioactive material leaked.[11] About 51,000 people were moved away from the nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima city when its cooling system failed.[12] There are fears that the nuclear reactor might meltdown.[13]

Tsunami[change | change source]

The earthquake started a tsunami warning for Japan's Pacific coast and other countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Guam, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands (USA) and Taiwan. The tsunami warning issued by Japan was the most serious on its warning scale. It warned that the wave could be as much as 10 meters high.[14] A 0.5 meter high wave hit Japan's northern coast.[15] Kyodo news agency reported a four-metre-high tsunami hit the Iwate Prefecture in Japan. Miyagi Prefecture was flooded, with waves carrying buildings and cars along as they travelled inland.[16] In some areas the waves reached 10 km inland.[17]

At 9:28 p.m (HST) the National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning until 7 a.m. for all of Hawaii.[18] Tsunami waves were expected to arrive in Hawaii at 2:59 am local time.[19] A wave two meters high reached California, after travelling across the Pacific Ocean at a speed of 500 kilometres per hour.[17] A man in California was drowned after being swept into the ocean while trying to take a photograph of the tsunami wave.[20]

Effects[change | change source]

Deaths–Injured–Missing[change | change source]

The Japanese National Police Agency has officially confirmed 15,890 deaths, 6,152 injured, and 2,590 people missing across 18 prefectures, as well as over 126,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.[7]

Nuclear disaster[change | change source]

The Fukushima nuclear disaster began on March 11 2011, just hours after the initial wave.[21][22] The connection to the electrical grid was broken. All power for cooling was lost and reactors started to overheat. There was a partial core meltdown in reactors 1, 2, and 3; hydrogen explosions destroyed the upper part of the buildings housing reactors 1, 3, and 4; an explosion damaged the containment inside reactor 2; fires broke out at reactor 4. Despite being initially shutdown, reactors 5 and 6 began to overheat. Spent nuclear fuel rods stored in pools in each reactor building overheated as water levels in the pools dropped. The accident is the second biggest nuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster, but more complex as all reactors are involved.[23]

There were 4.4 million households that had their electricity supply cut off, including 11 nuclear power plants.[24]

Geophysical impact[change | change source]

The quake moved parts of northeast Japan as much as 2.4 meters (7.9 ft) closer to North America,[25][26] making parts of Japan's land "wider than before," according to geophysicist Ross Stein.[26] Areas of Japan closest to the epi-center shifted the most.[26]

The Pacific plate itself may have moved westwards by up to 20 m (66 ft).[27] Other estimates put the amount of slippage at as much as 40 m (130 ft), covering an area some 300 to 400 km (190 to 250 mi) long by 100 km (62 mi) wide. If confirmed, this would be one of the largest recorded fault movements to have been associated with an earthquake.[28]

According to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the earthquake shifted the Earth's axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth.[29] The speed of the Earth's rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth's mass.[30]

The axial shift was caused by the redistribution of mass on the Earth's surface, which changed the planet's moment of inertia. Due to the conservation of angular momentum, such changes of inertia result in small changes to the Earth's rate of rotation.[31] These are expected changes for an earthquake of this magnitude.[25][29][30]

Transport[change | change source]

The Tōhoku Expressway, which serves northern Japan, had to be closed due to cracks on the roads.[32] The whole railway network was closed, but was reopened hours after the earthquake. Up to 100,000 people were stuck waiting for a ride straight out of the city.[33]

Television broadcast[change | change source]

In response to the great disaster, Emperor Akihito directly addressed his subjects in a television broadcast. This was the first time any emperor used television in this way.[34]

Other help[change | change source]

There were other people from other countries helping people after this disaster. For example, Google set up a people finder service, which allowed users to ask for or post information about missing people.[35][36]

References[change | change source]

  1. "USGS analysis as of 2011-03-12". Archived from the original on 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2011-03-13. 
  2. "Magnitude 8.9 - NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN 2011 March 11 05:46:23 UTC". 11 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  3. "Tsunami Warnings/Advisories". Japan Meteorological Agency. Japan Meteorological Agency. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  4. "東北を中心に震度7の地震 宮城県で4・2メートルの津波 建物も流される". MSN産経ニュース. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  5. "Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive quake". 11 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  6. "Historic World Earthquakes". 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  7. 7.07.1"Damage Situation and Police Countermeasures associated with 2011 Tohoku district – off the Pacific Ocean – Earthquake: February 10, 2015"(PDF). National Police Agency. Retrieved 2015-03-01. 
  8. "Earthquake Information". Japan Meteorological Agency. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  9. "Japan issues top tsunami warning after major quake". MediaCorp Channel NewsAsia. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  10. Mary Forgione (11 March 2011). "Travel disrupted by disaster in Japan". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  11. "BBC News - Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive quake". 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  12. "Radiation Levels Surge Outside Two Nuclear Plants in Japan -". 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  13. "BBC News - Japan quake: Huge explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant". 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  14. "Japan hit by massive earthquake". BBC News. 2011-03-11. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. 
  15. . Reuters. 2011-03-11 Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. 
  16. ↑ 18 April 2011 at WebCite
  17. 17.017.1"BBC News - Japan earthquake: Tsunami hits north-east". 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  18. ↑ 11 March 2011 at WebCite
  19. "Tsunami Center Widens Warning to Include Hawaii". ABC News. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  20. "US man killed by tsunami waves - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  21. "Japan's unfolding disaster 'bigger than Chernobyl'". New Zealand Herald. 2 April 2011. 
  22. "Explainer: What Went Wrong in Japan's Nuclear Reactors". IEEE Spectrum. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-03. 
  23. ↑"Analysis: A month on, Japan nuclear crisis still scarring,"International Business Times (Australia). 9 April 2011, retrieved 12 April 2011; excerpt, According to James Acton, Associate of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "Fukushima is not the worst nuclear accident ever but it is the most complicated and the most dramatic ... This was a crisis that played out in real time on TV. Chernobyl did not." Archived 18 April 2011 at WebCite
  24. "People near Japan nuke plant told to leave – Yahoo!7". 
  25. 25.025.1"Quake shifted Japan by over two meters". Deutsche Welle. 2011-03-14. Archived from the original on 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  26., Kenneth (2011-03-13). "Quake Moves Japan Closer to U.S. and Alters Earth's Spin". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  27. Rincon, Paul (2011-03-14). "How the quake has moved Japan". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  28. Reilly, Michael (2011-03-12). "Japan quake fault may have moved 40 metres". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 2011-03-12. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  29. 29.029.1Chai, Carmen (2011-03-11). "Japan's quake shifts earth's axis by 25 centimetres". Montreal Gazette. Postmedia News. Archived from the original on 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2011-03-13. 
  30. 30.030.1"Earth's day length shortened by Japan earthquake". CBS News. 2011-03-13. Archived from the original on 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2011-03-13. 
  31. Harris, Bethan (2011-03-14). "Can an earthquake shift the Earth's axis?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  32. "Fears of massive death toll as ten-metre tall tsunami races across Pacific after sixth largest earthquake in history hits Japan". Daily Mail. 11 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  33. "Many Rail Services In Tokyo Suspended After Quake". NIKKEI. 12 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-04-18. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  34. ↑Chancellor, Alexander. "The Japanese emperor's lesson for the British monarchy,"The Guardian (UK). 17 March 201. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  35. Mark Lee (11 March 2011). "Google Sets Up People-Finding Internet Service After Earthquake Hits Japan". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  36. Google Japan (11 March 2011). "東北地方太平洋沖地震を受けて". Google Japan. Retrieved 12 March 2011. (Japanese)

Other websites[change | change source]

Damage at Point Hachinohe
People getting off a train due to the closure of the railway network

Nuclear tourism is travel to places connected with nuclear research and technology, places where there have been atomic explosions, or places related to peaceful or wartime use of nuclear energy. They include:

  • Sites of nuclear explosions (bombed cities, weapon test sites, sites related to peaceful use of nuclear explosions)
  • Sites of nuclear accidents and accidents of nuclear weapon carrying aircraft
  • Atomic museums
  • Otherwise remarkable sites of projects in nuclear technology

Get ready[edit]

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.Albert Einstein

Although in many of the nuclear tourism sites only background radiation can be detected, in some other visitors are confronted with levels above natural background. These include mainly sites related to nuclear accidents and weapons testing. When visiting places with increased radiation, it is reasonable to be equipped with a radiation monitor in order to have control over radiation exposure. The most common devices in a reasonable price range usually contain a Geiger-Müller counter. They are suitable for detection of gamma, x-ray, alpha and beta radiation, typically expressed as counts per second. In other devices the registered gamma radiation is converted in units of dose rate or absorbed dose. These basic counters can not provide information about individual isotopes, natural or man-made, but simply sum up all registered radiation.

In order to be able to use the radiation monitor it is essential to get familiar with the units and ranges of the measured values to evaluate the information obtained from the counter. Additionally, one has to be aware of a strong variation of natural background radiation, which depends mainly on local geology.

Sites of nuclear explosions[edit]

Bombed cities[edit]

34.395132.4551 Hiroshima, Japan, was a target of the first nuclear attack ever on 6 August 1945. Nowadays the event with 90,000–166,000 civilian victims is commemorated at the Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum and in Peace Memorial Park, including the iconic A-Bomb Dome and Children's Peace Monument covered by colorful paper cranes for bomb victim, Sadako Sasaki. Ground Zero is located slightly outside of the park not far from the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Another nuclear bomb was dropped three days later on the industrial town of 32.773129.8642 Nagasaki, Japan, with more than 100,000 victims. Visitors can learn about the tragic piece of history in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum or the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, both located near ground zero.

As of 2014, both of the aircraft which dropped nuclear weapons on Japanese civilians are in US museums. Enola Gay (the plane which bombed Hiroshima) is displayed at the Udvar-Hazy Center (part of Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum) in Chantilly, Virginia ; Bockscar (which bombed Nagasaki) is on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio.

See the Pacific War article for the events leading up to the bombs.

Weapon test sites[edit]

In total, eight countries carried out nuclear weapon tests to determine the capability of their weapons, mostly in their own respective territories. The United States conducted the first and the most numerous tests, mostly in Nevada. Others carrying out tests included Russia (then the Soviet Union), the UK, India, France, and China. Pakistan, followed by North Korea, conducted the last nuclear weapon tests. Sites where weapon tests were conducted can be visited in these countries for adventure.

  • 33.6773-106.47543 Trinity site, New Mexico - the site of the world's first nuclear explosion on 16 July 1945, which started the Atomic age. The site, which was declared a National Historic Landmark district, is open for tours once a year (first Saturday in April). The ground zero, where the plutonium bomb was detonated from a tower, is marked with a plain stone monument. Careful visitors can spot glassy green pieces in the dirt. It is "Trinitite", sand fused by the enormous heat of the explosion into a crusty surface. Most of Trinitite was cleared away in the years after the test with a small piece of original surface preserved in a shelter. The small fractions of Trinitite left at the site do not pose any health hazard to the visitor from the external exposure point of view, but it's not allowed to take away any Trinitite from the inner fenced area. During the Trinity site open house days it is also possible to view Schmidt/McDonald ranch house, where the plutonium core to the bomb was assembled shortly before the test.
  • Atolls 11.6981165.27316 Bikini and 11.552565162.3472417 Enewetak are former US test sites at Marshall Islands. Being located in the middle of the Pacific, far away from any mainland, they are difficult to visit. Bikini atoll is open for tourism from late April to November and welcomes divers participating in organized tours. These tours that start at Kwajalein atoll are only available to experienced divers and the main attraction is the U.S. fleet sunk by the nuclear tests at Bikini. In 1970's the US army performed a clean up of contamination at Enewetak. As a result, radioactive materials from Enewetak and other contaminated atolls were dumped into the Cactus test crater at a tiny island Runit within the Enewetak atoll and covered by a concrete structure, known as Cactus dome.

        Peaceful use of nuclear explosions[edit]

        In the USA, 27 peaceful nuclear explosions were conducted within Operation Plowshare to test the use of nuclear explosions for various civilian purposes, such as excavating channels or harbors and stimulating natural gas production from sediment layers. Most of the shots were performed at the Nevada test site; however, some of the test sites in Colorado and New Mexico are accessible for the public.

              Sites of nuclear accidents[edit]

              Some might find it unethical or at least controversial for tourists to visit sites where many people suffered following an accident, especially if local guides are repeatedly exposed to radiation when leading tour groups through exclusion zones too "hot" for residents to return.

              Conversely, some welcome tourism as an alternative means to support local economies.

              Accidents in nuclear power plants or nuclear materials production sites[edit]

                • 54.4205-3.497515 Sellafield, United Kingdom, has been the site of a number of accidents, including the 1957 fire of the original Windscale former nuclear reactor. During those accidents some radioactive waste ended up in the Irish sea, near Whitehaven. Also, during the reactor fire radioactivity was released through the chimney. However the major portion was contained by the high-capacity filters mounted on the chimney (known as "Cockcroft's Folly" after the Nobel prize winning physicist Sir John Cockcroft, who insisted on having them mounted at great expense, although they hadn't been included in the original design. Their shape contributed to the iconic silhouette of the nuclear complex. However, in 2014 the second of two chimneys was decommissioned and is no longer part of the Sellafield skyline.)
                The nuclear site has been hosting a number of nuclear reprocessing operations. There used to be a visitors' centre, but it is no longer open.
                When spending time on nearby beaches (for example the one in Seascale), you might be lucky enough to spot the Sellafield environmental monitoring workers beachcombing for "hot particles" using a special all-terrain vehicle.
                • 40.152690-76.71740916 Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America was the worst commercial nuclear power plant accident in the USA on 28 March 1979. During the reactor core meltdown, radioactivity, mainly in the form of radioiodine and noble gases, was released to the surrounding environment. There is no visitors' center commemorating the event, only a historic marker (at the given coordinates in Middletown) with a fine view across the Susquehanna river towards the power station.
                • 37.4214141.032517 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan was seriously damaged by a tsunami following a magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11, 2011. Large areas of Fukushima prefecture coast are being decontaminated, while some 80,000 inhabitants had to be resettled. Tours are offered to the visitors to get first-hand impressions from areas affected by the great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. The participants can experience, how local people and businesses are coping with the recovery from the disasters.

                Accidents of nuclear weapon carrying aircraft[edit]

                During the Cold War there were several accidents involving thermonuclear weapons, and some of them led to local environment contamination. These are a few of them.

                • In 35.493041-77.85926218 Faro near Goldsboro (North Carolina), USA a B-52 crash dropped a hydrogen bomb which failed to detonate in 1961. The event is commemorated by a historical road marker in the town of Eureka, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the crash site.
                • A 34.205556-79.65527819 crater about 23 m wide and 11 m deep was left after another accident, in which a B-47 "Stratojet" crew mistakenly released a Mark 6 bomb while flying over Mars Bluff, South Carolina, on March 11, 1958 afternoon. The bomb went off by a conventional explosion at the property of local family Gregg and injured several family members. The crater can be visited from SC Highway 76 (East Palmetto Street) via a marked trail. There is an informational board and mock up of the bomb's size at the site. Nearby 34.19563-79.7663220 museum in Florence has the story to tell including some historical artifacts connected to the event.
                • In 1966 after an unsuccessful inflight refueling operation an US bomber B-52 carrying four hydrogen bombs crashed in 37.247-1.79721 Palomares between Almería and Cartagena, Spain. Now, after cleanup operations, the area is used extensively for agricultural production. Two of the "hot areas" are closed to the public by a fence.
                • Another accident occurred in 1968, when B-52 "Stratofortress" with four hydrogen bombs on board crashed onto the sea ice near the 76.527778-69.28194422 Thule Air Base, Greenland. The nearest civilian settlement is Qaanaaq, 100 km to the north.

                Manhattan Project-related sites[edit]

                "Manhattan Project", named for the Manhattan Engineering District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, is a cover name for a war-time US military effort to develop an atomic weapon. Geographically, the project was spread over about 30 sites across the United States (and Canada). The best known are the secret laboratory in Los Alamos and factories to supply the fissile materials by enriching uranium and producing plutonium in reactors in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford site near Richland, Washington. These three sites are also formally recognized as Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

                  • 41.702364-87.91330624 Site A/

                      Atomic museums[edit]

                        A three hour long guided bus tour departs from the museum on some working days in summer season (March to November, for detailed schedule check the AMSE webpage). The tour takes visitors to the U.S. Department of Energy facilities: Y-12 (Uranium enrichment plant) Visitor Center or Oak Ridge National Laboratory Graphite Reactor, also known as 35.92805-84.31759230 X-10 Graphite Reactor. It was the second nuclear reactor after Enrico Fermi's Chicago pile, now the world’s oldest nuclear reactor preserved as national historic landmark. X-10 was the first nuclear reactor to produce Plutonium 239 within the Manhattan Project. Only U.S. citizens can join the tour.
                              • 43.51132-113.006435 Experimental Breeder Reactor I, Arco, Idaho - the first nuclear reactor to produce electrical power, first breeder reactor, and first reactor to use plutonium as fuel

                                Research reactors[edit]

                                Several sites operate nuclear reactors for either nuclear reactor safety training or for nuclear science experiments using them as neutron sources. Neutron scattering is an effective ways to obtain information on the structure and the dynamics of condensed matter. These days accelerators like the Spallation Neutron Source based in Oakridge allow more intense neutron beams. Nevertheless several reactors are in on-going operations. Fundamental and solid state physics, chemistry, materials science, biology, medicine and environmental science pose scientific questions that are investigated with neutrons.

                                In contrast to nuclear fission, where unstable atoms decay into smaller atoms, there exists also an attempt of nuclear fusion, where energy would be gained by processes similarly to what happens in the core of stars by the fusion of two light elements in a heavier one. ITER is an international nuclear research and engineering project to build the first the world's largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor.

                                Operating reactors[edit]

                                  Dose rate meter is a basic tool of a nuclear tourist
                                  Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima
                                  Tourists at ground zero, Trinity site, April 2009.
                                  New sarcophagus construction in Chernobyl
                                  View west of the Sellafield facility, with the Irish Sea in the background
                                  Experimental HTRE reactors for nuclear aircraft, EBR-1 site, Idaho
                                  National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas
                                  Nuclear installations at the EPFL - the core of the Crocus reactor


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