The 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami

Il Tōhoku earthquake of March 11, 2011, Also referred to as the Great East Japan Earthquake, it was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful in the world from the beginning of modern recordings in 1900.

The megaquake submarine, of 9.1 magnitude, occurred at a depth of 29 km with an epicenter in thePacific Ocean, 72 km east of Oshika peninsula area of  Tōhoku region, and lasted about six minutes.

On the mainland, about 100 km from the epicenter, a maximum seismic shaking value (Modified Mercalli Intensity), corresponding to the ninth degree, was detected. Ground acceleration peaked at 2,99 g.

More tremors occurred in the following days and many parts of the city of Tokyo were temporarily without electricity supplies.

Damage following the earthquake of Tohoku, Japan, 2011

The 2011 Japan tsunami

Following the tremors of 2011, a violent event was generated tsunami. The Japanese coasts most affected by the tidal waves (over 10 meters high which reached a speed of about 750 km / h) were that of the Iwate Prefecture, where the highest wave was recorded, which struck near the city of Miyako, which reached the extraordinary height of 40,5 meters, and that of the Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered the most damage, with cars, buildings, ships and trains overwhelmed by the waves.

Tsunami caused by the earthquake of Tohoku, Japan, 2011

Mean sea level measurements indicate that the arrival of the tsunami wave took at least 72 hours to subside. The tsunami also reached the Mediterranean Sea, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. Satellite images have shown that the fatigue, induced by these oscillations, on the mass of ice caused the breakage of the Sulzberger ice shelf.

Damage following the earthquake of Tohoku, Japan, 2011

Damage and casualties of the Tōhoku earthquake

The Japan tsunami of March 11, 2011 was one of the most catastrophic tidal waves in human history. Most of the victims, more than 15.000, and the damage was caused by the tsunami. To date, the official number is 15 703 killed, 5 314 wounded and 4 647 missing.

In the first moments after the earthquake, fires and damages to various structures developed. The antenna on top of the Tokyo Tower suffered a structural collapse resulting, from the very first hours, conspicuously leaning. The Japanese railway network Shinkansen it halted all high-speed trains, while other rail services in various parts of the country were suspended. 

Damage following the earthquake of Tohoku, Japan, 2011

Lo tsunami caused the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, destroying the emergency generators that powered the cooling systems of three of the plant's reactors. This caused an electrical blackout and blocked cooling systems in the first three reactors. In the days following the disaster, following the release of radioactivity into the air and contamination of the surrounding land, the authorities ordered the evacuation of residents within a radius of 20 kilometres.

Damage to the Fukushima power plant, Japan, 2011

In the city of Sendai the tsunami flooded the airport. The water supply was cut off in at least 1,4 million homes and around 3 million persone would be left without electricity. Added to this is the shortage of basic necessities such as food, water and fuel in several Japanese cities.

Damage following the earthquake of Tohoku, Japan, 2011

Some Pacific Ocean countries suffered minor but widespread damage. In fact, the tsunami was observed throughout the Pacific Ocean, such as in Coquimbo, Chile, where waves of over two meters were seen, or in Crescent City, California, where run-ups of over two and a half meters were recorded. Run-ups of up to 2 meters have also been observed in Russia, South America, Hawaii and the United States.

Japan, following the tragic event, received assistance and aid from all over the world. According to the UN, 45 states have offered to send search and rescue teams and many countries have sent economic aid to support the affected population.

Damage following the earthquake of Tohoku, Japan, 2011


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