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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Japan Hit With 8.5 Magnitude Earthquake With Explantion Of Destructive Power

An 8.5 Magnitude earthquake (at 6:30PM local time) was felt throughout most of Japan on Saturday, May 30, 2015, though there was no immediate reports of damages or a tsunami warning.

Centered off the Ogasawara Islands south of Tokyo at a deep depth of 590 kilometers, there were minor injuries of people falling, but other than that - nothing, thanks to the very deep origin of the quake.

Hirata Naoki (surname first), an earthquake 'expert' at the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Centre, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that: "Since it was magnitude 8.5 this was a very big quake, but fortunately it was very deep at 590 km.

"But the shaking was felt over a broad area... Fortunately, because it was deep, there is little danger of a tsunami."

While a shinkansen bullet train line did stop between Tokyo and Osaka thanks to a power outage, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said there were no abnormalities at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant it owns and operates.

On March 11, 2011, a massive 9.0 Magnitude quake caused a massive tsunami (and other very high waves) that crashed onto various parts of the east coast of Japan that washed away tens of thousands of people, and caused a power outage at the Dai-ichi nuclear power generating facility in Fukushima-ken causing near meltdowns, but still expelling radioactive clouds into the atmosphere, as well as radioactive materials into the ground and surrounding waters causing an evacuation of the area that is still going on four-plus years later.

If you want to know what the big difference is between that 8.5M and the 9.0M earthquake from four years ago, it's actually quite a large difference.

You should know that while most people call it a 9.0 on the Richter Scale, that is actually incorrect. The Richter Scale was actually replaced by the MMS - Moment Magnitude Scale. 

The Richter and MMS scales measure the energy released by an earthquake; another scale, the Mercalli intensity scale, classifies earthquakes by their effects, from detectable by instruments but not noticeable to catastrophic. The energy and effects are not necessarily strongly correlated; a shallow earthquake in a populated area with soil of certain types can be far more intense than a much more energetic deep earthquake in an isolated area.

In this case, although a very strong 8.5M earthquake on the MMS scale, because of its deep location, it didn't have as great a catastrophic effect as smaller earthquakes might have - regardless of the earthquake-proof buildings in any given area.

But what I wanted to share with you, is the POWER of the earthquake.

For example, back in 2010, there was a 5.0 MMS magnitude of 5.0 in Quebec... that I felt in Toronto... at first wondering if a truck was rumbling by outside. This occurred on June 23, 2010 at 1:41:41PM, lasting 30 seconds. It had a 2.0 terrajoule equivalent of energy that equaled 480 metric tonnes of TNT exploding.

The 9.0 MMS magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 2.0 exajoules that equals 480 megatons of TNT. A megaton = 1 million tonnes of TNT.

By contrast, the 8.5 MMS Magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on May 30, 2015 was 360 petajoules that feels like a TNT blast of 85 megatons.

What does that mean? Well... consider that the Tsara Bomb  - the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated - created by the USSR only had a payload of 50 megatons.

For reference sake, the Little Boy atomic weapon dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was an MKI uranium bomb with only 15-16 kilotonnes of TNT power.

The Fat Man MKIII plutonium bomb contained a 21 kilotonnes of TNT power payload. 

Keep in mind that a nuclear weapon explodes above ground and so there is more concussion than an earthquake which has the energy diffused under ground.

Of course, each has its own cause and effect range of damages.

This time, Japan... No one badly hurt (I hope), and no tsunami or nuclear fallout. Whew.

Andrew Joseph

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