Last modified on 9 June 2014, at 22:32

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant: The WikiBook/The 2011 Japan Earthquakes

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, also known as the Great East Japan Earthquake,[1][2][fn 1])was a moment magnitude 9.0 (Mw) submarine undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 Japan Standard Time|JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday, 11 March 2011,[3] [4][5] with the epicenter approximately 70 km east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku region|Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 32 km.[3][6] t was the most powerful known List of earthquakes in Japan|earthquake to have hit Japan, and one of the five Largest earthquakes by magnitude|most powerful earthquakes in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900.[5] [7]

[8] The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 38.9|m [9] that struck Japan, in some cases traveling up to 10 km inland.[10] In addition to loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, the tsunami caused a number of 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, of which by far the most serious was an ongoing International Nuclear Event Scale|level 7 event and km evacuation zone around the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The overall cost could exceed $300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster on record.

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--> The Japanese National Police Agency (Japan)|National Police Agency confirmed earthquake and tsunami casualties across eighteen Prefectures of Japan|prefectures, as well as over 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. The earthquake and tsunami caused extensive and severe structural damage in Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse.[10][14] Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.[15] Many electrical generators were taken down, and at least three nuclear reactors Fukushima I nuclear accidents|suffered explosions due to hydrogen gas that had built up within their outer containment buildings after cooling system failure. Residents within a |20 km radius of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and a 10 km radius of the Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant were evacuated. In addition, the U.S. recommended that its citizens evacuate up to 80 km of the plant.[16]

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan."[17] The earthquake moved Honshu 2.4|m east and shifted the Earth on its axis by |10 cm|.[18][19] Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at US$14.5 to $34.6 billion.

[20] The Bank of Japan offered Japanese yen|¥15 trillion (US$183 billion) to the banking system on 14 March in an effort to normalize market conditions.[21]

EarthquakeEdit

The 9.0-Moment magnitude scale|magnitude (Moment magnitude scale|MW) submarine earthquake|undersea megathrust earthquake occurred on 11 March 2011 at 14:46 Japan Standard Time|JST (05:46 UTC) in the western Pacific Ocean at a relatively shallow depth of 32 km (19.9 mi),[22] with its epicenter approximately 72 km (45 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku region|Tōhoku, Japan, lasting approximately six minutes.[23][3] The nearest major city to the quake was Sendai, on the main island of Honshu, 130 km (81 mi) away. The quake occurred 373 km (232 mi) from Tokyo.[3] The main earthquake was preceded by a number of large foreshocks, and hundreds of aftershocks were reported. The first major foreshock was a 7.2 MW event on 9 March, approximately 40 km (25 mi) from the location of the 11 March quake, with another three on the same day in excess of 6.0 MW.[3][24] Following the quake, a 7.0 MW aftershock was reported at 15:06 JST, followed by a 7.4 at 15:15 JST and a 7.2 at 15:26 JST.[25] Over eight hundred aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater have occurred since the initial quake.[26] United States Geological Survey (USGS) director Marcia McNutt explained that aftershocks follow Aftershocks#Omori's Law|Omori's Law, might continue for years, and will taper off in time.[27]

One minute before the earthquake was felt in Tokyo, the Earthquake Early Warning (Japan)|Earthquake Early Warning system, which includes more than 1,000 seismometers in Japan, sent out warnings of impending strong shaking to millions. The early warning is believed by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) to have saved many lives.[28][29]

Initially reported as 7.9 MW by the USGS, the magnitude was quickly upgraded to 8.8, then again to 8.9,[30] and then finally to 9.0.[4][31]

GeologyEdit

Map of the Tōhoku earthquake and aftershocks on March 11. - 14.

This earthquake occurred where the Pacific Plate is subduction|subducting under the plate beneath northern Honshu; which plate is a matter of debate amongst scientists.[19][32] The Pacific plate, which moves at a rate of 8 to 9 cm (3.1 to 3.5 in) per year, dips under Honshu's underlying plate releasing large amounts of energy. This motion pulls the upper plate down until the stress builds up enough to cause a seismic event. The break caused the sea floor to rise by several meters.[32] A quake of this magnitude usually has a rupture length of at least 480 km (300 mi) and generally requires a long, relatively straight fault surface. Because the plate boundary and subduction zone in the area of the rupture is not very straight, it is unusual for the magnitude of an earthquake to exceed 8.5; the magnitude of this earthquake was a surprise to some seismologists.[33] The Hypocenter|hypocentral region of this earthquake extended from offshore Iwate Prefecture to offshore Ibaraki Prefecture.[34] The Japanese Meteorological Agency said that the earthquake may have ruptured the fault zone from Iwate to Ibaraki with a length of 500 km (310 mi) and a width of 200 km (120 mi).[35][36] Analysis showed that this earthquake consisted of a set of three events.[37] The earthquake may have had a mechanism similar to that of 869 Sanriku earthquake and tsunami|another large earthquake in 869 with an estimated surface wave magnitude (Surface wave magnitude|Ms) of 8.6, which also created a large tsunami.[38] Other major earthquakes with tsunamis struck the Sanriku Coast region 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquake|in 1896 and 1933 Sanriku earthquake|in 1933.

The strong ground motion registered at the maximum of 7 on the Japan Meteorological Agency seismic intensity scale in Kurihara, Miyagi|Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture. Three other prefectures—Fukushima Prefecture|Fukushima, Ibaraki Prefecture|Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefecture|Tochigi—recorded an upper 6 on the JMA scale. Seismic stations in Iwate Prefecture|Iwate, Gunma Prefecture|Gunma, Saitama Prefecture|Saitama and Chiba Prefecture measured a lower 6, recording an upper 5 in Tokyo.

EnergyEdit

[File:2011 Japan Earthquake Tokyo Tower.jpg|thumb|150px||right|Damage to Tokyo Tower]

This earthquake released a Moment magnitude scale#Radiated seismic energy|surface energy (Me) of 1.9±0.5×1017 joules,[39] dissipated as shaking and tsunamic energy, which is nearly double that of the 9.1-magnitude 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people. "If we could only harness the [surface] energy from this earthquake, it would power [a] city the size of Los Angeles for an entire year," McNutt said in an interview.[27] The total energy released, also known as the seismic moment (M0), was more than 200,000 times the surface energy and was calculated by the USGS at 3.9×1022 joules,[40] slightly less than the 2004 Indian Ocean quake. This is equivalent to 9,320 TNT equivalent|gigatons of TNT, or approximately 600 million times the energy of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki|Hiroshima bomb.

Japan's National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) calculated a peak ground acceleration of 2.99 g-force|g (29.33 m/s²).[41][fn 2] The largest individual recording in Japan was 2.7g, in the Miyagi Prefecture, 75 km from the epicentre; the highest reading in the Tokyo metropolitan area was 0.16g.[44]

Geophysical impactsEdit

The quake moved portions of northeastern Japan by as much as 2.4 m (7.9 ft) closer to North America,[18][19] making portions of Japan's landmass wider than before.[19] Portions of Japan closest to the epicenter experienced the largest shifts.[19] A 400 km (250 mi) stretch of coastline dropped vertically by 0.6 m (2.0 ft), allowing the tsunami to travel farther and faster onto land.[19] One early estimate suggested that the Pacific plate may have moved westwards by up to 20 m (66 ft),[45] and another early estimate put the amount of slippage at as much as 40 m (130 ft).[46] On 6 April the Japanese coast guard said that the quake shifted the seabed near the epicenter 24 meters (79 ft.) and elevated the seabed off the coast of Miyagi prefecture by 3 meters.[47]

File:Soil-liquefaction at Shinkiba after after 2011 Tohoku Pacific Ocean offshore earthquake.jpg|thumb|left|Soil liquefaction in Koto, Tokyo|Koto, Tokyo

The earthquake shifted the Earth's Rotation around a fixed axis|axis by 25 cm (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the Earth's rotation|length of a day and the Axial tilt#Obliquity|tilt of the Earth.[48] The speed of the Earth's rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth's mass.[49] The axial shift was caused by the redistribution of mass on the Earth's surface, which changed the planet's moment of inertia. Because of conservation of angular momentum, such changes of inertia result in small changes to the Earth's rate of rotation.[50] These are expected changes[48] for an earthquake of this magnitude.[18][49]

Soil liquefaction was evident in areas of reclaimed land around Tokyo, particularly in Urayasu, Chiba|Urayasu,[51] Chiba, Chiba|Chiba City, Funabashi, Chiba|Funabashi, Narashino, Chiba|Narashino (all in Chiba Prefecture) and in the Koto, Tokyo|Koto, Edogawa, Tokyo|Edogawa, Minato, Tokyo|Minato, Chūō, Tokyo|Chūō, and Ōta, Tokyo|Ōta Wards of Tokyo. Approximately 30 homes or buildings were destroyed and 1,046 other buildings were damaged to varying degrees.[52] Nearby Haneda Airport, built mostly on reclaimed land, was not damaged. Odaiba also experienced liquefaction, but damage was minimal.[53]

Shinmoedake, a volcano in Kyushu, erupted two days after the earthquake. The volcano had previously erupted in January 2011; it is not known if the later eruption was linked to the earthquake.[54] In Antarctica, the seismic waves from the earthquake were reported to have caused the Whillans Ice Stream to slip by about 0.5 m (1.6 ft).[55]

File:Shindomap 2011-03-11 Tohoku earthquake.png|thumb|225px|Map based on the earthquake's Japan Meteorological Agency seismic intensity scale

The first sign international researchers had that the earthquake caused such a dramatic change in the Earth’s rotation came from the United States Geographical Survey which monitors Global Positioning Satellite stations across the world. The Survey team had several GPS monitors located near the scene of the earthquake, and one was directly in the epicenter. The GPS station located in the epicenter proved that Japan had gotten at least thirteen feet wider as a result of the splitting of the Earth. This motivated government researchers to look into other ways the earthquake may have had large scale effects on the planet. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory did some calculations and determined that the Earth’s rotation was changed by the earthquake to the point where the days are now one point eight microseconds shorter. In practice, this length of time is essentially meaningless. No human being can tell that their day was shorter by less than two microseconds. However, scientists are fascinated with this finding, and believe that it could be important in other ways.

[56]

One way the earthquake and its effects on the Earth’s rotation and time of day is important was explained by Dr. Richard Gross, one of the head researchers working for NASA. Gross explained that even a difference of one point eight microseconds is important to his team, because it effects the way that spacecraft being sent to Mars are navigated. If the changes were not noted and accounted for, there is a great chance that the space missions would fail and millions of dollars would be wasted on the cutting edge technology. Gross noted that the way the Earth rotates is not very smooth; he related the way the Earth moves to an old car wobbling on its axle. The earthquake was similar to if a person took a hammer and whacked the cars axle, causing it to shift and the car to drive differently. This is what occurred with the earthquake in Japan. The powerful earthquake was the hammer hitting the Earth’s axle, causing it to spin in a slightly different way.[57]

AftershocksEdit

Japan experienced over 900 aftershocks since the earthquake with about 60 being over 6.0 M and three over 7.0 M. A 7.7 M and a 7.9 M quake occurred on March 11[58] and the 2011 Miyagi earthquake|third one on 7 April 2011, with a disputed magnitude. Its epicenter was underwater, 66 km (41 mi) off the coast of Sendai. The Japan Meteorological Agency assigned a magnitude of 7.4, while the U.S. Geological Survey lowered it to 7.1.[59] At least four people were killed, and electricity was cut off across much of northern Japan including the loss of external power to Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant and Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant.[60][61][62]

As of|2011|5|19 aftershocks continued; a regularly updated map showing all shocks of magnitude 4.5 and above in the last seven days[63] showed over 20 events.


DART Station, 690 NM Southeast of Tokyo

The earthquake took place at 14:46 JST around 67 km (42 mi) from the nearest point on Japan's coastline, and initial estimates indicated the tsunami would have taken 10 to 30 minutes to reach the areas first affected, and then areas farther north and south based on the geography of the coastline.[64][65] Just over an hour after the earthquake at 15:55 JST, a tsunami was observed flooding Sendai Airport, which is located near the coast of Miyagi Prefecture,[66][67] with waves sweeping away cars and planes and flooding various buildings as they traveled inland.[68][69] The impact of the tsunami in and around Sendai Airport was filmed by an NHK News helicopter, showing a number of vehicles on local roads trying to escape the approaching wave and being engulfed by it.[70] A 4 m high tsunami hit Iwate Prefecture.[71] Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai|Wakabayashi Ward in Sendai was also particularly hard hit.[72] At least 101 designated tsunami evacuation sites were hit by the wave.[73]

Like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the damage by surging water, though much more localized, was far more deadly and destructive than the actual quake. There were reports of entire towns destroyed from tsunami-hit areas in Japan, including 9,500 missing in Minamisanriku, Miyagi|Minamisanriku;[74] one thousand bodies had been recovered in the town by 14 March 2011.[75]

Among several factors causing the high death toll from the tsunami, one was the unexpectedly large size of the water surge. The tsunami walls at several of the affected cities were based on much smaller tsunami heights. Also, many people caught in the tsunami thought that they were located on high enough ground to be safe.[76]

Tsunami flooding on the Sendai Airport runway

Kuji and Ōfunato were almost entirely destroyed[77][78] Also destroyed was Rikuzentakata, Iwate|Rikuzentakata, where the tsunami was reportedly three stories high.[79][80][81] Other cities reportedly destroyed or heavily damaged by the tsunami include Kamaishi, Iwate|Kamaishi, Miyako, Iwate|Miyako, Ōtsuchi, Iwate|Ōtsuchi, and Yamada, Iwate|Yamada (in Iwate Prefecture), Namie, Fukushima|Namie, Sōma, Fukushima|Sōma and Minamisōma, Fukushima|Minamisōma (in Fukushima Prefecture) and Shichigahama, Miyagi|Shichigahama, Higashimatsushima, Miyagi|Higashimatsushima, Onagawa, Miyagi|Onagawa, Natori, Miyagi|Natori, Ishinomaki, Miyagi|Ishinomaki, and Kesennuma, Miyagi|Kesennuma (in Miyagi Prefecture).[82][83][84][85][86][87][88] The most severe effects of the tsunami were felt along a 670-km (420 mi)-long stretch of coastline from Erimo, Hokkaido|Erimo in the north to Ōarai in the south, with most of the destruction in that area occurring in the hour following the earthquake.[89] Near Ōarai, people captured images of a huge whirlpool that had been generated by the tsunami.[90] The tsunami washed away the sole bridge to Miyatojima, Miyagi, isolating the island's 900 residents.[91] A two meter high tsunami hit Chiba Prefecture about 2 1/2 hours after the quake, causing heavy damage to cities such as Asahi, Chiba|Asahi.[92]

On 13 March 2011, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) published details of tsunami observations recorded around the coastline of Japan following the earthquake. These observations included tsunami maximum readings of over 3 m (9.8 ft) at the following locations and times on 11 March 2011, following the earthquake at 14:46 JST:[93]

  • 15:12 JST – off Kamaishi, Iwate|Kamaishi – 6.8 m (22 ft)
  • 15:15 JST – Ōfunato – 3.2 m (10 ft) or higher
  • 15:20 JST – Ishinomaki, Miyagi|Ishinomaki-shi Ayukawa – 3.3 m (11 ft) or higher
  • 15:21 JST – Miyako, Iwate|Miyako – 4.0 m (13.1 ft) or higher
  • 15:21 JST – Kamaishi – 4.1 m (13 ft) or higher
  • 15:44 JST – Erimo, Hokkaidō|Erimo-cho Shoya – 3.5 m (11 ft)
  • 15:50 JST – Sōma, Fukushima|Sōma – 7.3 m (24 ft) or higher
  • 16:52 JST – Ōarai – 4.2 m (14 ft)

These readings were obtained from recording stations maintained by the JMA around the coastline of Japan. Many areas were also affected by waves of 1 to 3 meters (3.3 to 9.8 ft) in height, and the JMA bulletin also included the caveat that "At some parts of the coasts, tsunamis may be higher than those observed at the observation sites." The timing of the earliest recorded tsunami maximum readings ranged from 15:12 to 15:21, between 26 and 35 minutes after the earthquake had struck. The bulletin also included initial tsunami observation details, as well as more detailed maps for the coastlines affected by the tsunami waves.[94][95]

On 23 March 2011, Port and Airport Research Institute reported tsunami height by visiting the port sites or by telemetry from offshore as follows:[96][97]

File:20110311Houshu.ogg|thumb|NOAA animation of the tsunami's propagation

  • Port of Hachinohe – 5–6 m (16–19 ft)
  • Port of Hachinohe area – 8–9 m (26–29 ft)
  • Port of Kuji, Iwate|Kuji – 8–9 m (26–29 ft)
  • Mooring (watercraft)|Mooring GPS wave height meter at offshore of central Iwate Prefecture|Iwate (Miyako, Iwate|Miyako) – 6 m (20 ft)
  • Port of Kamaishi, Iwate|Kamaishi – 7–9 m (23–30 ft)
  • Mooring GPS wave height meter at offshore of southern Iwate Prefecture|Iwate (Kamaishi, Iwate|Kamaishi) – 6.5 m (22 ft)
  • Port of Ōfunato, Iwate|Ōfunato – 9.5 m (31 ft)
  • Run up height, port of Ōfunato, Iwate|Ōfunato area – 24 m (79 ft)
  • Mooring GPS wave height meter at offshore of northern Miyagi Prefecture|Miyagi – 5.6 m (18 ft)
  • Fishery port of Onagawa, Miyagi|Onagawa – 15 m (50 ft)
  • Port of Ishinomaki, Miyagi|Ishinomaki – 5 m (16 ft)
  • Mooring GPS wave height meter at offshore of central Miyagi Prefecture|Miyagi – could not measure
  • Shiogama section of Shiogama, Miyagi|Shiogama-Sendai port – 4 m (13 ft)
  • Sendai section of Shiogama-Sendai port – 8 m (26 ft)
  • Sendai Airport area – 12 m (39 ft)

A joint research team from Yokohama National University and the University of Tokyo also reported that the tsunami at Ryōri Bay (綾里白浜), Ōfunato was about 30 m high. They found fishing equipment scattered on the high cliff above the bay.[98] At Tarō, Iwate, a University of Tokyo researcher reported an estimated tsunami height of 37.9 m (124 ft) reached the slope of a mountain some 200 m (656 ft) away from the coastline.[99] Also, at slope of nearby mountain from 400 m (1,312 ft) Aneyoshi fishery port (姉吉漁港) of Omoe peninsula (重茂半島) in Miyako, Iwate, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology found estimated tsunami run up height of 38.9 m (127 ft).[9] This height is deemed the record in Japan historically, as of reporting date, that exceeds 38.2 m (125 ft) from the 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquake.[100]

PhotosEdit

A Bonin Petrel, trapped in the sand on Midway Atoll by the tsunami, before being rescued.


Fishing boats moved to higher ground in anticipation of tsunami arrival, in Pichilemu, Chile

I

Land subsidenceEdit

File:Subsidence in Shin-Urayasu Sta after 2011 Sendai earthquake.JPG|thumb|right|Land subsidence and soil liquefaction near Shin-Urayasu Station elevator shaft

Geospatial Information Authority of Japan reported land subsidence on the height of triangulation station measured by Global Positioning System|GPS from previous value on 14 April 2011.[101]

  • Miyako, Iwate - 0.50 m (1.64 ft)
  • Yamada, Iwate - 0.53 m (1.73 ft)
  • Ōtsuchi, Iwate - 0.35 m (1.14 ft)[102]
  • Kamaishi, Iwate - 0.66 m (2.16 ft)
  • Ōfunato, Iwate - 0.73 m (2.39 ft)
  • Rikuzentakata, Iwate - 0.84 m (2.75 ft)
  • Kesennuma, Miyagi - 0.74 m (2.42 ft)
  • Minamisanriku, Miyagi - 0.69 m (2.26 ft)
  • Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture|Miyagi - 1.2 m (3.93 ft)[102]
  • Ishinomaki, Miyagi - 0.78 m (2.55 ft)
  • Higashimatsushima, Miyagi - 0.43 m (1.41 ft)
  • Iwanuma, Miyagi - 0.47 m (1.54 ft)
  • Sōma, Fukushima - 0.29 m (0.95 ft)


Scientists say that the subsidence is permanent. As a result, the communities in question are now more susceptible to flooding during high tides.[103]

CasualtiesEdit

Memorials amongst the ruins, Natori

The National Police Agency confirmed quake impact across eighteen Prefectures of Japan|prefectures. Prefectural officials and the Kyodo News Agency, quoting local officials, said that 9,500 people from Minamisanriku, Miyagi|Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture—about a half of the town's population—were unaccounted for the day after the earthquake,[104] and on the same day NHK reported that the death toll in Iwate Prefecture alone might reach 10,000.[68] On 14 March, Kyodo News Agency reported that some 2,000 bodies were found on two shores in Miyagi Prefecture.[105] As of 12 April 2011, Yomiuri Shimbun reported that 282 people had died from post-earthquake-related factors, such as exposure to cold and wet weather, communicable disease and infection, unsanitary conditions, or inability to receive adequate medical care for pre-existing conditions.[106]

Of the 13,135 fatalities recovered by 11 April 2011, 12,143 or 92.5% died by drowning. Victims aged 60 or older accounted for 65.2% of the deaths, with 24% of total victims being in their 70s.[107]

Tsunami damage between Sendai and Sendai Bay.

Save the Children reports that as many as 100,000 children were uprooted from their homes, some of whom were separated from their families because the earthquake occurred during the school day.[108] As of 10 April 2011, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)|Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare stated that it was aware of at least 82 children who had been orphaned by the disaster.[109] The quake and tsunami, as of 28 April 2011, killed 378 elementary, middle-school, and high school students and left 158 others missing.[110] One elementary school in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Okawa Elementary, lost 74 of 108 students and 10 of 13 teachers and staff.[111][112][113]

The Japanese Foreign Ministry has confirmed the deaths of nineteen foreigners.[114] Among them are two English teachers from the United States affiliated with the JET Programme|Japan Exchange and Teaching Program;[115] a Canadian missionary in Shiogama, Miyagi|Shiogama;[116] and citizens of China, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Philippines.

It was reported that four passenger trains containing an unknown number of passengers disappeared in a coastal area during the tsunami.[117] One of the trains, on the Senseki Line, was found derailed in the morning; all passengers were rescued by a police helicopter.[118] Der Spiegel later reported that five missing trains in Miyagi Prefecture had been found with all passengers safe, although this information could not be confirmed locally.[119]

By 9:30 UTC on 11 March, Google Person Finder, which was previously used in the 2010 Haiti earthquake|Haitian, 2010 Chile earthquake|Chilean, and 2011 Christchurch earthquake|Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes, was collecting information about survivors and their locations.[120][121] The Next of kin|Next of Kin Registry (NOKR) is assisting the Japanese government in locating next of kin for those missing or deceased.[122]

Japanese funerals are normally elaborate Buddhist ceremonies, which entail cremation. The thousands of bodies, however, exceed the capacity of available crematoriums and morgues, many of them damaged,[123][124] and there are shortages of both kerosene—each cremation requires 50 liters—and dry ice for preservation.[125] The single crematorium in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi|Higashimatsushima, for example, can only handle four bodies a day, although hundreds have been found there and hundreds of people are still missing.[126] Governments and the military have thus been forced to bury many bodies in hastily dug mass graves with rudimentary or no rites, although relatives of the deceased have been promised that cremation will occur later.[127]

The tsunami is reported to have caused several deaths outside of Japan. One man was killed in Jayapura, Papua (province)|Papua, Indonesia after being swept out to sea.[128] A man who is said to have been attempting to photograph the oncoming tsunami at the mouth of the Klamath River, south of Crescent City, California, was swept out to sea.[129][130][131] His body was found on April 2 along Ocean Beach in Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon, some 330 miles to the north.[132][133]

Damage and effectsEdit

Panorama of Rikuzentakata area swept away

The degree and extent of damage caused by the earthquake and resulting tsunami were enormous, with most of the damage being caused by the tsunami. Video footage of the towns worst affected shows little more than piles of rubble, with almost no parts of any structures left standing.[134] Estimates of the cost of the damage range well into the tens of billions of US dollars; before-and-after satellite photographs of devastated regions show immense damage to many regions.[135][136] Although Japan has invested the equivalent of billions of dollars on anti-tsunami seawalls which line at least 40% of its 34,751 km (21,593 mi) coastline and stand up to 12 m (39 ft) high, the tsunami simply washed over the top of some seawalls, collapsing some in the process.[137]

Japan's National Police Agency (Japan)|National Police Agency said on 3 April 2011, that 190,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged by the quake and tsunami. Of those, 45,700 were destroyed. The damaged buildings included 29,500 structures in Miyagi Prefecture, 12,500 in Iwate Prefecture and 2,400 in Fukushima Prefecture.[138] The earthquake and tsunami created an estimated 25 million tons of rubble and debris in Japan.[139]

Nuclear power plantsEdit

Fukushima I, Fukushima II, Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and Tōkai nuclear power stations, consisting of a total eleven reactors, were automatically shut down following the earthquake.[140] Higashidōri Nuclear Power Plant|Higashidōri, also on the northeast coast, was already shut down for a periodic inspection. Cooling is needed to remove decay heat after a reactor has been shut down, and to maintain spent fuel pools. The backup cooling process is powered by emergency diesel generators at the plants and at Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant|Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant.[141] At Fukushima I and II tsunami waves overtopped seawalls and destroyed diesel backup power systems, leading to severe problems at Fukushima I, including three large explosions and radioactive leakage. Over 200,000 people were evacuated.[142]

The April 7 aftershock caused the loss of external power to Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant and Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant but backup generators were functional. Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant lost 3 of 4 external power lines and lost cooling function for as much as 80 minutes. A spill of a couple liters of radioactive water occurred at Onagawa.[143]

Europe's European Commissioner for Energy|Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger addressed the European Parliament on 15 March, explaining that the nuclear disaster was an "apocalypse".[144] As the nuclear crisis entered a second month, experts recognized that Fukushima I is not the worst nuclear accident ever, but it is the most complicated.[145]

Fukushima I and II Nuclear Power PlantsEdit

Destruction at the Fukushima site

Japan declared a state of emergency following the failure of the cooling system at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, resulting in the evacuation of nearby residents.[146][147] Officials from the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported that radiation levels inside the plant were up to 1,000 times normal levels,[148] and that radiation levels outside the plant were up to 8 times normal levels.[149] Later, a state of emergency was also declared at the Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant|Fukushima II nuclear power plant about 11 km (7 mi) south.[150] This brought the total number of problematic reactors to six.[151]

It was reported that radioactive iodine was detected in the tap water in Fukushima, Toshigi, Gunma, Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, and Niigata, and radioactive cesium in the tap water in Fukushima, Tochigi and Gunma.[152][153][154] Radioactive cesium, iodine, and strontium[155] were also detected in the soil in some places in Fukushima. There may be a need to replace the contaminated soil.[156] Food products were also found contaminated by radioactive matter in several places in Japan.[157] On April 5, 2011, the government of the Ibaraki Prefecture banned the fishing of sand lance after discovering that this species was contaminated by radioactive cesium above legal limits.[158]

Onagawa Nuclear Power PlantEdit

Loose livestock roam the evacuation zone

A fire occurred in the turbine section of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant following the earthquake.[141][159] The blaze was in a building housing the turbine, which is sited separately from the plant's reactor,[146] and was soon extinguished.[160] The plant was shut down as a precaution.[161]

On 13 March the lowest-level state of emergency was declared regarding the Onagawa plant as radioactivity readings temporarily[162] exceeded allowed levels in the area of the plant.[163][164] Tohoku Electric Power Co. stated this may have been due to radiation from the Fukushima I nuclear accidents but was not from the Onagawa plant itself.[165]

As a result of the April 7 aftershock, Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant lost 3 of 4 external power lines and lost cooling function for as much as 80 minutes. A spill of a couple liters of radioactive water occurred at Onagawa.[143]

Tōkai Nuclear Power PlantEdit

The number 2 reactor at Tōkai Nuclear Power Plant was shut down automatically.[140] On 14 March it was reported that a cooling system pump for this reactor had stopped working;[166] however, the Japan Atomic Power Company stated that there was a second operational pump sustaining the cooling systems, but that two of three diesel generators used to power the cooling system were out of order.[167]

PortsEdit

File:Ship on the port CROP.jpg|thumb|Ship and crane damage at Sendai port File:2011despuesdeltsunami.jpg|thumb|Damaged place near Sendai Port All of Japan's ports were briefly closed after the earthquake, though the ones in Tokyo and southwards soon re-opened. Fifteen ports were located in the disaster zone. The north-eastern ports of Hachinohe, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onahama were destroyed, while Chiba port (which serves the hydrocarbon industry) and Japan's ninth-largest container port at Kashima, Ibaraki|Kashima were also affected though less severely. The ports at Hitachinaka, Hitachi, Soma, Shiogama, Kesennuma, Ofunato, Kamashi and Miyako were also damaged and closed to ships.[168] All 15 ports reopened to limited ship traffic by 29 March 2011.[169]

The Port of Tokyo suffered slight damage; the effects of the quake included visible smoke rising from a building in the port with parts of the port areas being flooded, including soil liquefaction in Tokyo Disneyland's carpark.[170][171]

Dam failureEdit

The Fujinuma Dam|Fujinuma irrigation dam in Sukagawa ruptured,[172] causing flooding and washing away homes.[173] Eight people were missing and four bodies were discovered by the morning.[174][175][176] Reportedly, some locals had attempted to repair leaks in the dam before it completely Dam failure|failed.[177] On 12 March, 252 dams were inspected and it was discovered that six embankment dams had shallow cracks on their crests. The reservoir at one concrete gravity dam suffered a small non-serious Slope stability|slope failure. All damaged dams are functioning with no problems. Four dams within the quake area were unreachable. When the roads clear, experts will be dispatched to conduct further investigations.[178]

WaterEdit

In the immediate aftermath of the calamity, at least 1.5 million households were reported to have lost access to water supplies.[15][179] By 21 March 2011, this number fell to 1.04 million.[180]

ElectricityEdit

A map of Japan's electricity distribution network shows the geographic divide between 50 hertz systems and 60 hertz systems

According to Tōhoku Electric Power (TEP), around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity.[181] Several nuclear and conventional power plants went offline after the earthquake, reducing TEPCO's total capacity by 21 GW.[182] Rolling blackouts began on 14 March due to power shortages caused by the earthquake.[183] The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which normally provides approximately 40 Gigawatt|GW of electricity, announced that it can currently provide only about 30 GW. This is because 40% of the electricity used in the greater Tokyo area is now supplied by reactors in the Niigata Prefecture|Niigata and Fukushima Prefecture|Fukushima prefectures.[184] The reactors at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant|Fukushima Dai-ichi and Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant|Fukushima Dai-ni plants were automatically taken offline when the first earthquake occurred and have sustained major damage related to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Rolling blackouts of three hours are expected to last until the end of April and will affect the Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture|Kanagawa, Eastern Shizuoka Prefecture|Shizuoka, Yamanashi Prefecture|Yamanashi, Chiba Prefecture|Chiba, Ibaraki Prefecture|Ibaraki, Saitama Prefecture|Saitama, Tochigi Prefecture|Tochigi, and Gunma Prefecture|Gunma prefectures.[185] Voluntary reduced electricity use by consumers in the Kanto area helped reduce the predicted frequency and duration of the blackouts.[186] By 21 March 2011, the number of households in the north without electricity fell to 242,927.[180]

File:Devastation in Minamisōma after tsunami.jpg|thumb|left|Damage to electricity transmission lines

Tōhoku Electric Power cannot currently provide the Kanto region with additional power, because TEP's power plants were also damaged in the earthquake. Kansai Electric Power Company (Kepco) cannot share electricity, because its system operates at 60 hertz, whereas TEPCO and TEP operate their systems at 50 hertz; this is due to early industrial and infrastructure development in the 1880s that left Japan without a unified national power grid.[187] Two substations, one in Shizuoka Prefecture and one in Nagano Prefecture, can convert between frequencies and transfer electricity from Kansai to Kanto and Tōhoku, but their capacity to do so is limited to 1 GW. With the damage to so many power plants, it could be years before electricity productions levels in eastern Japan return to pre-quake levels.[188]

In effort to help alleviate the shortage, three steel manufacturers in the Kanto region are contributing electricity produced by their in-house conventional power stations to TEPCO for distribution to the general public. Sumitomo Metal Industries can produce up to 500 MW, JFE Holdings|JFE Steel 400 MW, and Nippon Steel 500 MW of electric power[189]

Oil, gas and coalEdit

File:Cosmo Oil explosion 2 20110311CROP.jpg|thumb|upright|200px|Fire at the Cosmo Oil refinery in Ichihara A 220,000-barrel-per-day[190] oil refinery of Cosmo Oil Company was set on fire by the quake at Ichihara, Chiba|Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, to the east of Tokyo,[191] while others halted production due to safety checks and power loss.[192][193] In Sendai, a 145,000-barrel-per-day refinery owned by the largest refiner in Japan, Nippon Oil|JX Nippon Oil & Energy, was also set ablaze by the quake.[190] Workers were evacuated,[194] but tsunami warnings hindered efforts to extinguish the fire until 14 March, when officials planned to do so.[190]

An analyst estimates that consumption of various types of oil may increase by as much as 300,000 Oil barrel|barrels per day (as well as LNG), as back-up power plants burning fossil fuels try to compensate for the loss of 11 GW of Japan's nuclear power capacity.[195][196]

The city-owned plant for importing liquefied natural gas in Sendai was severely damaged, and supplies were halted for at least a month.[197]

TransportEdit

File:Rokko-Bridge fell,Namegata-city,Japan.jpg|thumb|right|A highway bridge damaged and severed

Japan's transport network suffered severe disruptions. Many sections of Tōhoku Expressway serving northern Japan were damaged. The expressway did not reopen to general public use until 24 March 2011.[198][199] All railway services were suspended in Tokyo, with an estimated 20,000 people stranded at major stations across the city.[200] In the hours after the earthquake, some train services were resumed.[201] Most Tokyo area train lines resumed full service by the next day-12 March.[202] Twenty thousand stranded visitors spent the night of 11–12 March inside Tokyo Disneyland.[203]

A tsunami wave flooded Sendai Airport at 15:55 JST,[66] about 1 hour after the initial quake, causing severe damage. Narita International Airport|Narita and Haneda Airport both briefly suspended operations after the quake, but suffered little damage and reopened within 24 hours.[171] Eleven airliners bound for Narita were diverted to nearby Yokota Air Base.[204][205]

File:Shinchi Sta 20110404.jpg|thumb|left|Remains of Shinchi Station

Various train services around Japan were also canceled, with JR East suspending all services for the rest of the day.[206] Four trains on coastal lines were reported as being out of contact with operators; one, a four-car train on the Senseki Line, was found to have derailed, and its occupants were rescued shortly after 8 am the next morning.[207] Sixty-two of 70 JR East train lines suffered damage to some degree;[169] in the worst-hit areas, 23 stations on 7 lines were washed away, with damage or loss of track in 680 locations and the 30-km radius around the Fukushima I nuclear plant unable to be assessed.[208]

There were no derailments of Shinkansen bullet train services in and out of Tokyo, but their services were also suspended.[171] The Tōkaidō Shinkansen resumed limited service late in the day and was back to its normal schedule by the next day, while the Jōetsu Shinkansen|Jōetsu and Nagano Shinkansen resumed services late on 12 March. Services on Yamagata Shinkansen resumed with limited numbers of trains on 31 March.[209]

The Tōhoku Shinkansen line was worst hit, with JR East estimating that 1,100 sections of the line, varying from collapsed station roofs to bent power pylons, will need repairs. Services on the Tōhoku Shinkansen partially resumed only in Kantō area on 15 March, with one round-trip service per hour between Tokyo Station|Tokyo and Nasushiobara Station|Nasu-Shiobara,[210] and Tōhoku area service partially resumed on 22 March between Morioka Station|Morioka and Shin-Aomori Station|Shin-Aomori.[211] Services on Akita Shinkansen resumed with limited numbers of trains on 18 March.[212]

Train washed away uphill from Onagawa Station

Minami-Kesennuma Station on the Kesennuma Line was obliterated save for its platform;[213] anecdotal evidence suggests severe damage to the line as well as other coastal lines (including the Ishinomaki Line and Senseki Line).

The rolling blackouts brought on by the crises at the nuclear power plants in Fukushima had a profound effect on the rail networks around Tokyo starting on 14 March. Major railways began running trains at 10–20 minute intervals, rather than the usual 3–5 minute intervals, operating some lines only at rush hour and completely shutting down others; notably, the Tokaido Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Sobu Main Line and Chūō-Sōbu Line were all stopped for the day.[214] This led to near-paralysis within the capital, with long lines at train stations and many people unable to come to work or get home. Railway operators gradually increased capacity over the next few days, until running at approximately 80% capacity by 17 March and relieving the worst of the passenger congestion.

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