Tsunami In Japan
The Tsunami in Japan was a wake-up call for the world to look at research that warns and predicts against the disaster that a tsunamis causes. Research papers from Paper Masters explore the tsunami in Japan and look at the statistics regarding the disaster and the factors that lead to such wide-spread devastation. Learn more about tsunamis from the science and geography writers at Paper Masters.
On March 11, 2011 the country of Japan was changed forever. It was then that it experienced a deadly earthquake followed by an even deadlier tsunami. Both were considered to be one of the most detrimental natural disasters in the history of the world. As a result of these deadly forces the following is a fact:
- The country of Japan experienced over 15,000 deaths
- There were over 5,300 injuries
- For months after the incident over 7,300 people were listed as missing
- It is estimated that the country is now 7.9 feet closer to the United States.
Millions of businesses, homes, and public institutions were also destroyed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. One of the most frightening geographic casualties of the tsunami of Japan is the damage that was done to the country's nuclear facilities. In addition to hydrogen explosions in one of the country's main nuclear facilities, several meltdowns and nuclear waste radiation leaks were experienced. This has placed the entire country and those surrounding it in serious danger. Although some progress has been made in the clean-up and rebuilding efforts, it will be a significant amount of time before the country, its businesses, and its citizens recover. As of today, massive reconstruction efforts are still being implemented by the Japanese government and organizations all over the world.
What are Tsunamis?
The phenomena of tsunamis are among the deadliest and more frightening events that nature has to offer. Ranking near volcano eruptions on the damage scale and predictability, these giant waves have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people - and that was just the most recent event.
Also called Tidal Waves, tsunamis are "a series of traveling ocean waves of extremely long length generated by disturbances associated primarily with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean floor." (OCWWS) Also caused by underwater landslides and volcanoes, these giant waves travel at incredible speeds and cross large distances before dissipating.
The underwater events that are associated with tsunamis cause them in a simple way - displacement. Earthquakes and landslides cause large amounts of rocks and other material to shift simultaneously. On the surface, the only thing in the way of this material is air, which dissipates the energy very quickly. However, when these events occur under water, the same amount of disruption must move the same amount of water.
Water, being far denser than air, releases this energy a much lower rate - therefore the waves of water must travel much larger distances to expel that energy. When the event occurs, on the sea floor, the wave length - the distance between the crest and the bottom of the wave - has the entire ocean depth to use to expel energy. However, as the wave reaches the shallows of a land fall, there is far less room for the wave to dissipate. The deep water waves are hardly felt, even if one is at the epicenter of an event, but as the waves approach land, the same amount of water is being moved in a much smaller area, and thus the wave heights can be incredible.
Anyone living in a coastal area is at risk of being effected by a tsunami. The events, much like the rings that a drop creates on the surface of water, travel out in all directs from the epicenter of the event. And, as seen in December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, there can be incredible loss of life due to these events. This event killed nearly 300,000 people.
Though there is no way to prevent a tsunami, steps can be taken to reduce the loss of life that one may cause. "The majority of deaths associated with tsunamis are related to drownings, but traumatic injuries are also a primary concern.  As the water recedes, the strong suction of debris being pulled into large populated areas can further cause injuries and undermine buildings and services." (CDC) Also, the flood waters associated with the waves are often contaminated with sewage and other pollutants that are picked up in the area, avoiding the standing water is very important.
Since the Southeast Asian tsunami, there have been steps taken to create a warning system that is intended to save as many lives as possible. However, with the speed that the tsunami waves can reach - up to 500 miles per hour in deep water (OCWWS) - this is a very difficult task, as the causing event is, itself, impossible to predict.