Archives for : December2012

Earthquake on Dec. 7 2012

Injuries were reported in Japan Friday after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the northeastern region that was devastated by  last years quake and tsunami.

The meteorological agency immediately issued a tsunami warning in the area around Ishinomaki, one of the cities that was flattened by 20 meter waves during the March 2011 disasters.

Tsunami warnings were sounded throughout the area urging people to flea to safety on higher ground. Several cities in Miyagi, including the region’s capital, Sendai, urged residents in coastal areas to evacuate. Sendai Airport was immediately shut down, and flights headed for the airport from domestic destinations were ordered not to land. The tsunami eventually reached Ayukawa at 18:02.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities had been detected at nuclear plants in the area, including Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, site of the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster last year, and Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Onagawa plant.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency reported that a tsunami measuring 1 meter in height had hit the Ayukawa area on Ishinomaki’s Ojika Peninsula. Further tsunami were anticipated, a spokesman said.

Television images showed violent shaking in Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures. In Tokyo the shaking continued for more than a minute. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda cancelled appointments and immediately returned to his offices, telling reporters he intended to “thoroughly” respond to the quake.

The M7.3 quake hit at at 17:22 local time some 237 km off the Pacific coast of the Ojika Peninsula at a depth of 10 km. The biggest tremors, estimated at around 5 in the Japanese scale of 7, could be felt as far away as Hachinohe in Aomori and Hitachi in Ibaraki.

Some high-speed bullet train services were suspended while minor injuries were reported in Ibaraki and Miyagi.

Japan is estimated to experience 10 percent of the world’s earthquakes and has been stricken by 2 major quakes in the past 17 years, killing a total of 25,000 people.


A prototype of the Eco-Ride, an energy-saving urban transportation system developed by the University of Tokyo and Senyo Kogyo Co., is demonstrated at the university's testing facility in Chiba, Japan. Photographer: Robert Gilhooly

I tried out the Eco-Ride “train” recently — a transportation system being developed by the university of Tokyo and an amusement ride developer. It’s basically a roller-coaster — there’s no engine or motor to propel it along the elevated tracks, which are designed to utilize and control the vehicle’s potential energy to maintain comfortable speed levels. I have uploaded a video on YouTube here

There’s talk of it being available commercially as early as 2014, and municipalities in the Tohoku region affected by last year’s tsunami are showing an interest in using it for shuttling residents from newly created residential areas on high ground down to their workplaces on the coastal plains.

I wrote a story about this for the New Scientist, an abridged version of which is available of the magazine’s website here


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