Saturday, March 19, 2011

An explosive mix: Uncertain geologic knowledge and hazardous technologies

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the east coast of northern Honshu Island in Japan, causing devastating tsunamis and killing thousands. The quake and ensuing tsunami resulted in the catastrophic failure of many of the reactors and associated facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The crisis at the Fukushima plant continues to unfold at this moment.

Was this earthquake unexpected? Yes and no. We live on a dynamic Earth. Our active Earth actually surprises many people who live calm lives in areas unaffected by the processes of a planet constantly in the course of reshaping its surface. The reason Japan even exists is due to the large subduction trench that lies to its east, the source of the recent earthquake. So, though earthquakes in that zone did not exceed magnitude 7.8 in the twentieth century, it is not totally unexpected that such a high-magnitude quake would occur there. More >>>

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