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Author Topic: The Fukushima complex  (Read 4014 times)

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Offline Oniya

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2011, 11:00:16 AM »
The earthquake was nothing (one fatality - how is that for disaster preparedness?) - it was the tsunami that followed that wrecked stuff.

When you're talking about a region like Japan (island or shoreline in general), and an earthquake of that intensity, isn't a tsunami something that's naturally going to follow?  I could see a statement like this if they had an earthquake and then a few months later there was a tsunami sparked by an eruption in Hawaii, but in this case, I really think it's like saying 'it wasn't the fire that caused the deaths, it was the smoke'.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2011, 11:41:47 AM »
They had that in the plans for a large one but the waves were larger than planned for, its not unlike Katrina the levees were designed for a typical region storm surge and hurricane not that big an event.

I suspect if they had suspected that was a risk to take into account they would have built the reactor on even higher ground with sea walls and other protections.

Online Valerian

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2011, 11:58:02 AM »
Your "average" earthquake won't trigger a tsunami -- I believe it has to be over 7 or 7.5 on the Richter scale for sufficient water to be displaced to cause a tsunami.

The problem is that the fault near Japan is a subduction fault, which is first, much more likely to produce stronger quakes; and second, more likely to cause severe water displacement than, say, a strike-slip fault, as in the San Andreas fault.  Subduction faults involve one tectonic plate slipping beneath another one, and when one of those plates is oceanic, as in Japan, the rapid deforming of the ocean floor can easily cause tsunamis.

(Source: My notes from the geophysics class I took last year.)

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2011, 12:03:15 PM »
Your "average" earthquake won't trigger a tsunami -- I believe it has to be over 7 or 7.5 on the Richter scale for sufficient water to be displaced to cause a tsunami.

The problem is that the fault near Japan is a subduction fault, which is first, much more likely to produce stronger quakes; and second, more likely to cause severe water displacement than, say, a strike-slip fault, as in the San Andreas fault.  Subduction faults involve one tectonic plate slipping beneath another one, and when one of those plates is oceanic, as in Japan, the rapid deforming of the ocean floor can easily cause tsunamis.

(Source: My notes from the geophysics class I took last year.)

So, as I'm reading this, a tsunami would be a natural side-effect of the displacement of an 8.8 Richter quake, and even more so in a subduction area like Japan.  I'm not faulting the earthquake-preparedness, just so it's clear, just the conversational treatment of the tsunami and the quake as separate things.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2011, 12:23:19 PM »
So, as I'm reading this, a tsunami would be a natural side-effect of the displacement of an 8.8 Richter quake, and even more so in a subduction area like Japan.  I'm not faulting the earthquake-preparedness, just so it's clear, just the conversational treatment of the tsunami and the quake as separate things.


Yes, you roughly need a quake of / Richter or stronger to trigger a substantial tsunami. But the actual strength and direction it will get are all but impossible to predict. The tsunami from Sumatra in 2004 was a lot more powerful, long-range, than the one from the Japanese quake (and it hit places that were nowhere near as prepared as Japan. For a place like Sendai the actul warning didn't matter much though - it was too close to hive much time.

There was a tsunami in the North Atlantic in 1929, after an undersea quake off Newfoundland. The unrest on the seafloor from sand and clay avalanches broke telegraph cables and people used to speculate that those would have buried the wreck of the Titanic, cause it was known to have sunk roughly in or near the area where the bottom got reshaped.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 04:04:12 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2011, 12:31:40 PM »
Excuse me but this is a non-issue to the average American they are seeing a nuclear reactor accident that LOOKS bad and warnings on five others that were in place for a time. The whys and wherefores don't matter this set back any nuclear reactors in the US back alot over coal and alternative energy sources in the case the first one being king.

An average American is driven by sound bites, short news articles and what people tell them that sound more convincing and what their gut tells them at the moment not the facts.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2011, 12:40:16 PM »
Not all of us are Americans, and some of those of us who are vote on these issues.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2011, 12:45:57 PM »
I'm not saying caring about the issues and do research Americans I'm talking the average voter trying to get by, two different things.

I'm the former I know with really good planning and the latest technology its likely very safe France proves that, but most people see a disaster with a nuclear plant that was in fact very rare but happened. If it might happen to ME so not by ME please build it over there way far away from ME. Even though natural gas is far more likely to kill him then a off the long shot big time nuclear accident.

Three Mile Island had no noticeable leak and that nearly this bad that seemed to have a negative impact on nuclear power in the US, Japan had the best of the older technology and all the safeguards and one reactor is in danger. That is what people will remember not its very rare but it is failing and is taking efforts to stop.

Offline Bayushi

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2011, 03:05:28 AM »
Yes, you roughly need a quake of / Richter or stronger to trigger a substantial tsunami. But the actual strength and direction it will get are all but impossible to predict. The tsunami from Sumatra in 2004 was a lot more powerful, long-range, than the one from the Japanese quake (and it hit places that were nowhere near as prepared as Japan. For a place like Sendai the actul warning didn't matter much though - it was too close to hive much time.

The epicenter of the quake (which was upgraded from 8.9 to 9.0, btw) was indicated to be about 50 miles from the coast, outside of Tokyo Bay.

When a tsunami travels at around 650 miles per hour, HOW is anyone supposed to react in time after the earthquake?

Secondly, HOW are they supposed to prepare, at all? Earthquakes can be prepared for, and if anyone in the world is prepared for quakes, the Japanese are. Considering they have at least two 3.0+ quakes PER DAY, anyways. But you can not realistically prepare for a tsunami. Except for just plain not building at or near the coast.

The only thing regarding the Fukushima complex is that it should have been built further inland, and on higher ground. Given Japan's propensity for seismic events, they of all people should be (and mostly are) very prepared for tsunamis.

Offline Jude

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #34 on: March 16, 2011, 03:24:39 AM »
By the way, we no longer use the Richter Scale.  We now use the moment magnitude scale.  Richter was phased out in the 1970s.  So many people who still describe quakes that way were born after we switched.  This is a great illustration of the problem with letting the public make science decisions.

EDIT:  One other interesting tidbit.  Neither scale increases linearly.  An 8 isn't "a bit stronger" than a 7 for example, just as a 5 isn't 5 times stronger than a 1.  If you go up one it's actually 32x stronger, and if you go up 2 it's 1000 times stronger.  So a magnitude 9 quake, releases roughly 1000 times the energy of a magnitude 7.  So... yeah, 9 is pretty insane and rare.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 03:35:24 AM by Jude »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2011, 10:10:28 AM »
Yes I knew about the Richter scale getting saturated for quakes more powerful than around 8½R - that is, it isn't terribly exact in relative terms for those - and about the Moment scale. Used Richter because I wasn't sure exactly how to abbreviate or unitize the Moment scale in typing, and I figured the Richter scale would be more familiar to people here. The precise strength of the earthquake isn't an issue in this thread; everyone knows by now that it was one of the ten strongest in the past seventy years or so.

I also know both scales are nowhere near arithmetic. I have personally experienced an earthquake of just below 5, decently close to the epicentre: it was the strongest one Sweden has had in almost a hundred years - with the granite bedrock here and the distance from any plate boundaries, tangible seismic activity is an ultra rare thing. I was in bed at the time and I knew instantly it had to be an earthquake, there was an unmistakable (but not violent) shaking that semed to come from the ground, several stories down. Now if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake had been 50% stronger than that one, then I should have been very surprised that we get to hear anything about those quakes at all! :D
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 10:14:41 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2011, 10:16:18 AM »
Yes I knew about the Richter scale getting saturated for quakes more powerful than around 8½R - that is, it isn't terribly exact in relative terms for those - and about the Moment scale. Used Richter because I wasn't sure exactly how to abbreviate or unitize the Moment scale in typing, and I figured the Richter scale would be more familiar to people here. The precise strength of the earthquake isn't an issue in this thread; everyone knows by now that it was one of the ten strongest in the past seventy years or so.

Past 7R, I think most earthquakes just fall into the 'holy fuck!' category of people's brains.  Also, because I'm curious about things like this, the Moment scale is abbreviated MW.

Offline Bayushi

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2011, 11:25:11 AM »
EDIT:  One other interesting tidbit.  Neither scale increases linearly.  An 8 isn't "a bit stronger" than a 7 for example, just as a 5 isn't 5 times stronger than a 1.  If you go up one it's actually 32x stronger, and if you go up 2 it's 1000 times stronger.  So a magnitude 9 quake, releases roughly 1000 times the energy of a magnitude 7.  So... yeah, 9 is pretty insane and rare.

They are indeed rare. Apparently, from what I have been hearing, magnitude 9 quakes happen approximately every three hundred years.

Having lived in Japan several times over my life, I've grown accustomed to earthquakes. As expected, as per videos posted online, most of the Japanese people were relatively calm during and after the quake. The quake wasn't the problem, as those are commonplace in Japan (though not 9.0 quakes), it was the tsunami afterwards.

The lucky part, for the US West coast, is that the majority of the fault line in our area is on shore(eg: San Andreas fault), and far less likely to cause the devastation that this tsunami did to Japan. The earthquake itself would be the danger, in the US, not a tsunami (though you can't rule it out entirely).

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2011, 01:06:51 PM »
For comic relief, I can't help quoting this line by the angry, overwrought doctor Helmer in Lars von Trier's tv miniseries The Kingdom which is set at the Royal Hospital (colloquially "Kingdom") in Copenhagen, where the gifted but choleric head doctor, who has probably had to go expatriate from Sweden because people couldn't take his desire to always be in the right, spends his days respected and sometimes feared by a host of vivacious Danish doctors, patients and nurses. From time to time he can't take it any longer and gets up to the roof of the hospital to gaze across the water at his native land (and it happens to be the province where I live). In the distance he glimpses the controversial nuclear power station at Barsebäck on the Swedish shoreline; it was still running at the time the series was filmed in the mid-nineties but has since been closed; it was always the most controversial Swedish nuclear plant because of its location in a densely populated region and near the capital of another country.

The good doctor exclaims: "There lies Sweden, hewn in granite. And here we have Denmark, sh***en out in soft chalk and water. I thank you, you proud watchtowers! /referring to the reactors, of course/ With plutonium we shall force the Dane to his knees. Danish scum! Danish scum!!"

:D

Online Vekseid

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2011, 07:10:45 PM »
TPM has a rather blistering condemnation of American media in general with regards to reporting:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/03/taking_stock_3.php

Quote
...

It also just looks good because there is something so ugly beside it: the non-Japanese coverage. That, I am afraid, has been full of factual errors and other problems. This has not been just Fox News, but also CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and even the New York Times to differing degrees. They get the reactors mixed up or report information that is simply wrong (e.g., writing that the TEPCO workers had fully abandoned the effort to control the plant because of radiation levels when TEPCO had only withdrawn some non-essential personnel). They are perpetually late, continuing to report things the Japanese media had shown to be wrong or different the day before. They are woefully selective, bringing out just the sensational elements ("toxic clouds" over Tokyo―when in fact radiation in Tokyo now is actually less than that in LA on some days). They are misleading (implying for instance that the dumping of water from the air was some last ditch effort to cool the core, when it was just an effort to replenish the water in the spent rod pools―which are now full in reactor 3 and back to normal temperature). Colleagues have noted problems with European coverage as well, but the difference between media can be obvious:

http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/03/18/media-sensationalism-bbc-vs-huffington-post/

I for one cannot understand why ABC, for instance, could feature Michio Kaku multiple times over several days when by the time his declarations of imminent disaster, the situation on the ground had already proven him wrong.

...

Online Zakharra

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2011, 10:46:04 PM »
TPM has a rather blistering condemnation of American media in general with regards to reporting:

t also just looks good because there is something so ugly beside it: the non-Japanese coverage. That, I am afraid, has been full of factual errors and other problems. This has not been just Fox News, but also CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and even the New York Times to differing degrees. They get the reactors mixed up or report information that is simply wrong (e.g., writing that the TEPCO workers had fully abandoned the effort to control the plant because of radiation levels when TEPCO had only withdrawn some non-essential personnel). They are perpetually late, continuing to report things the Japanese media had shown to be wrong or different the day before. They are woefully selective, bringing out just the sensational elements ("toxic clouds" over Tokyo―when in fact radiation in Tokyo now is actually less than that in LA on some days). They are misleading (implying for instance that the dumping of water from the air was some last ditch effort to cool the core, when it was just an effort to replenish the water in the spent rod pools―which are now full in reactor 3 and back to normal temperature). Colleagues have noted problems with European coverage as well, but the difference between media can be obvious:

http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/03/18/media-sensationalism-bbc-vs-huffington-post/

I for one cannot understand why ABC, for instance, could feature Michio Kaku multiple times over several days when by the time his declarations of imminent disaster, the situation on the ground had already proven him wrong.

 American media at it's finest.   ::)

Offline Jude

Re: The Fukushima complex
« Reply #41 on: March 23, 2011, 02:01:54 PM »
Good call Vekseid.

Also, the American Media has shown people wearing allergy masks (which is very common in Japan) and passed it off as a populace gripped with fear over radiation.  This level of distortion is practically criminal.