Courtesy NOAASome interesting scientific angles on the recent Japanese earthquake and subsequent human disasters:
Fukushima Nuclear Accident – a simple and accurate explanation. This post is long, but does a great job of explaining exactly how a modern nuclear reactor works, and how engineers plan for natural disasters.
UPDATE: Here's an updated video showing the terrifying force of the tsunami that swept across the Japanese city of Sendai. It's not just an unstoppable wave; it's a juggernaut of debris.
Courtesy USGSA monster earthquake hit northern Japan today at 2:46pm local time (11:46pm CST) causing tremendous damage including the triggering of a deadly and devastating tsunami. The images of destruction coming out of the country are both stunning and heartbreaking. Early reports say a 30-foot wave slammed into the city of Sendai washing away houses, cars and other debris – some of it in flames. The city is located about 80 miles from the quake’s epicenter and has a population of over 1 million people. According to the USGS Earthquake site the tremblor occurred at a depth of about 15 miles. The initial shaking is reported to have lasted two minutes, and has been followed by several strong aftershocks. It’s the most powerful quake to hit Japan in 140 years, and there are already reports of 200-300 deaths. But unfortunately that will more than likely rise as time goes on and reports are updated. Tsunami warnings have been issued across much of the Pacific Rim and also Russia. Seven foot waves have already hit Hawaii.
Images captured by a Japanese satellite show land deformation caused by the recent devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Courtesy USGSA strong earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand toppling several buildings and killing an undetermined number of people. According to the US Geological Survey the magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred at a depth of 3.1 miles near Christchurch, which is New Zealand's second largest city. The quake struck on Tuesday at 12:51PM local time (6:51PM Monday EST), followed by several strong aftershocks. The city's population of 350,00 has been recovering from a similar quake that struck last September 4th.
Courtesy Public domain (via Dartmouth)An outbreak of cholera in Haiti is causing doctors and other aid workers concern. Cholera is an infection of the intestines caused by Vibrio cholerae a bacteria often found in contaminated food or drinking water. The bacteria can spread through crowded and unsanitary areas via contact with feces of infected persons. Cholera outbreaks often take place in crowded and impoverished areas, or in war zones. Symptoms include severe abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, vomiting and rapid dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be deadly within 24 hours. When detected, treatment involves replenishment of lost fluids and electrolytes. Improved sanitation and personal hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of the disease. So far, cholera has killed more than 300 people in Haiti, and most of the nearly 4000 recorded cases have occurred in the region of Arbonite, a rural area unaffected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated much of the country last January. The outbreak has been slowing lately, but officials are concerned it could still spread through the hundreds of refugee tent camps located in the overcrowded capital of Port-au-Prince.
Courtesy Wikimedia CommonsHundreds of people are still missing and feared drowned from the tsunami triggered by the large earthquake that struck Indonesia earlier this week. So far 340 deaths have been blamed on the 10-foot waves that washed over many of the tiny and remote islands in the Mentawai chain. The tsunami warning system set in place after 2004's devastating tsunami apparently malfunctioned due to vandalism to some of its expensive sensors. But local officials say the tsunami came on so quickly that even if they had been functioning the warnings would have been useless. Four hundred people are still missing, and several aftershocks, coupled with changing weather conditions have made search and rescue efforts difficult. Meanwhile, to the east on the island of Java, Mount Merapi, has erupted again and is adding to Indonesia's woes. Some scientists think the two disasters may be linked.
Courtesy USGSA fairly strong earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitude (6.7 according to the USGS Earthquake site) caused some panic but so far no reported injuries or major damage to population centers along the Gulf of California. The quake, which struck just before noon local time, was centered about 65 miles south of the coastal city of Los Mochis, and about 6 miles beneath the surface.
Eyjafjallajökull isn't the only volcano to rock our modern world. Thirty years ago today Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State, making it one of the most spectacular and devastating volcanoes in the history of the United States. For those of us who were not alive or old enough to remember the event, here is a haunting description of the explosion from Boston.com:
"On May 18th, 1980, thirty years ago today, at 8:32 a.m., the ground shook beneath Mount St. Helens in Washington state as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck, setting off one of the largest landslides in recorded history - the entire north slope of the volcano slid away. As the land moved, it exposed the superheated core of the volcano setting off gigantic explosions and eruptions of steam, ash and rock debris. The blast was heard hundreds of miles away, the pressure wave flattened entire forests, the heat melted glaciers and set off destructive mudflows, and 57 people lost their lives. The erupting ash column shot up 80,000 feet into the atmosphere for over 10 hours, depositing ash across Eastern Washington and 10 other states."
And for everyone, here are some fabulous Boston.com photos to commemorate the event.