Only an Earthquake: Japan Issues False North Korea Missile Alarm

A Japanese official mistakenly issued a pre-prepared alert announcing the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile instead of sending a message concerning a recent earthquake in western Japan.

A reported 87 airport offices in Japan received emails on Saturday saying that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile. The messages were sent by mistake, the country’s transportation ministry later explained.

An official at the Osaka aviation bureau was going to send out a letter asking if any of the region’s airports had been damaged by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that earlier hit the western part of the country, injuring dozens.

Instead, the official mistakenly dispatched a pre-prepared alert about a North Korean missile launch.

Read the rest of the story: All nerves: Japan issues false N. Korea missile alarm instead of quake alert .

Japan Earthquake Unleashed Surprising Amount of Energy

The devastating earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 may have unexpectedly released nearly all of the energy that had built up near the source of the resulting tsunami, new research suggests.

These findings, detailed in tomorrow’s (Feb. 8) issue of the journal Science,may help lead to a better understanding of how earthquakes and fault zones work, “and with a better understanding, we may be able to anticipate extreme events or find out where super-large earthquakes might be possible in the world,” researcher Fred Chester, a geophysicist at Texas A&M University, told OurAmazingPlanet.

The magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki quakewas the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan and the fifth-most powerful quake ever recorded, generating a tsunami that killed thousands and triggered a nuclear crisis. Research revealed the seafloor moved nearly 165 feet (50 meters) during the temblor.

Earthquakes are caused by stress that builds up on faults in the Earth’s surface. Usually, earthquakes are thought to release only a portion of this stress on the fault, but thecatastrophic level of activity seen with the 2011 temblor suggested that this quake may have relieved significantly more energy in that area — a boundary region where the tectonic plates that make up Earth’s surface meet.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Earthquake Unleashed Surprising Torrent of Energy.

Japans Mount Fuji Sits Atop Massive Active Fault

Japans Mount Fuji may be sitting on a large, active fault that could trigger a magnitude-7 earthquake, changing the shape of the mountain and devastating nearby communities, the education ministry said on Thursday.

A survey commissioned by the ministry found a 30-km fault beneath Japans highest mountain, believed by many to be sacred, and research results indicate it was likely to be active, a ministry official said.

If the fault sets off an earthquake, it could lead to a major landslide and hit communities at the foot of the 3,776-metre-high mountain. Further research was required, the official said.

Read the rest of the story: Massive Active Fault Found beneath Japans Mount Fuji.

The Big One: New Sea Sediment Samples to tell of past ‘Tohoku quakes’

Previous earthquakes that rivalled the March 2011 Tohoku tremor in size may be recorded in sediment samples just recovered from the seafloor off Japan.

A German-led scientific cruise obtained the cores from 16 different locations, some of them at a water depth of 7.5km.

The sediments hint at three major disturbances on the ocean bed that could be the result of the submarine landslides often seen with big quakes.

The researchers are currently trying to identify and date the events.

Read the rest of the story: Japan sea sediments tell of past ‘Tohoku quakes’.

Japan Opinions: BTW, Get Ready for a 34 Meter Tsunami

Sometimes it is better to leave the TV off.   This is how I have felt since Saturday, the day that Japan’s Cabinet Office chose to announce new predictions for earthquakes and tsunamis for which Japanese citizens “should make preparations.”  From the shocking scale of death and devastation which the predictions intimate, however, the only “preparations” that would be practical, or even possible, would be life insurance and tombstones.

At a televised news conference, the long-haired academics on the government’s Central Disaster Management Council duly presented data and graphics (above, from the Yomiuri Shimbun) predicting a tsunami of 10 meters or higher could strike 11 prefectures, including Tokyo, and an earthquake with an intensity of 7—the highest level on the Japanese seismic scale—in the event of a “simultaneous triple quake” along the Nankai Trough.  The “triple quake” refers to quakes in three sections of the trough, Tokai, Tonankai, and Nankai.  The entire trough stretches from Suruga Bay along areas off Shikoku and Kyushu.

Read the rest of the story: BTW, Get Ready for a 34 Meter Tsunami.

North Tokyo Bay Big One still on the horizon in the Land of the Rising Sun

A future earthquake in the northern part of Tokyo Bay could register the maximum of 7 on the Japanese intensity scale in the capital, stronger than the previously assumed upper 6, according to a study by a government project team released Tuesday.

The larger intensity estimate for the envisaged quake of magnitude-7.3 comes from a finding that its epicenter could be shallower than previously thought, according to the study.

When a quake with an intensity of an upper 6 or 7 strikes, people have difficulty standing, most unsecured furniture moves, and wall tiles and windows are likely to break and fall out.

Read the rest of the story: North Tokyo Bay Big One could top the scale.

Atmosphere Above Japan Heated Rapidly Before M9 Earthquake

Geologists have long puzzled over anecdotal reports of strange atmospheric phenomena in the days before big earthquakes. But good data to back up these stories has been hard to come by.

In recent years, however, various teams have set up atmospheric monitoring stations in earthquake zones and a number of satellites are capable of sending back data about the state of the upper atmosphere and the ionosphere during an earthquake.

Last year, we looked at some fascinating data from the DEMETER spacecraft showing a significant increase in ultra-low frequency radio signals before the magnitude 7 Haiti earthquake in January 2010

Read the rest of the story: Best of 2011: Atmosphere Above Japan Heated Rapidly Before M9 Earthquake.

Japanese couple stuck with a giant tugboat in their front yard

OFUNATO, Japan — An elderly couple here are learning to live with a strange lawn ornament dumped in their front yard seven months ago in the tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast coast.A 230-ton tugboat that is high and wide enough to cast a shadow over their house has become a tourist attraction, but Kinichi Oikawa, 82, and his wife, Shizuko, 80, want the boat owner to get the vessel off their property.But the owner of the Kazumaru No. 1 tugboat, which used to fight fires and haul massive freighters around the Ofunato harbor, cannot afford to move it.“We never imagined that a boat from the ocean below would end up in front of our house,” said Mrs. Oikawa, whose home has acquired the nickname the “tugboat house.”

Read the rest of the story: Japanese couple stuck with giant tugboat in front yard.

Japan To Startups: No Tax In Quake-Hit Areas

New companies that set up shop in parts of Japan devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March will be exempt from paying corporate taxes for five years, the government said on Tuesday, as it looks to combat snowballing unemployment in the region.

Startups in special industrial zones in the country’s northeast will be immune from corporate taxes as the country looks to stem an exodus from areas that were already suffering from rapidly shrinking populations prior to the March 11 disaster, Vice Finance Minister Fumihiko Igarashi told reporters after a meeting of the government’s tax panel.

Even though the devastated region accounts for only about 5 percent of Japan’s GDP, economists say it could serve as a testing ground for policies that, if successful, could be tried nationwide to reinvigorate the economy following the disaster that caused material damage worth 17 trillion yen ($221 trillion).

Read the rest of the story: Japan To Startups: No Tax In Quake-Hit Areas.

5.5 Quake hits Japan nuclear crisis zone

A 5.5-magnitude earthquake has hit Japan’s Fukushima area, but officials say the region’s crippled nuclear plant remains stable.

The offshore quake struck at 11.45am on Monday (1345 AEDT) off Fukushima prefecture in the country’s north, at a depth of 30.2 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

A tsunami was not expected, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, while there were no reports of damage.

Read the rest of the story: Quake hits Japan nuclear crisis zone.