Saturday, October 23, 2004

Shake Shake Shake...Shake Shake Shake...

...Shake your booty. Shake your booty.
Shake EVERYTHING, actually.

Now I am seriously beginning to wonder what Mother Gaia is up to. Internet news has already reported that a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck northern Japan. Actually, it struck in Niigata Prefecture, which is about 150 miles away from where I live. However, we're on the same fault line, so we felt it, all right. It was about magnitude 4 here. The biggest problem is that the aftershocks are still going on. Over the past two hours we've had more than half a dozen quakes hit us, all centered in the same spot in Niigata at magnitude 5-6, reaching magnitude 3-4 here.

Oops...we just had another one. This is really getting ridiculous.

The Japanese earthquake scale isn't compatible with the Richter Scale used in the U.S.. The Richter Scale is based on the total energy involved in the quake. The Japanese scale, on the other hand, is based on actual effects on the ground. Basically, the breakdown is like this:

Magnitude 1 = "Did you feel something?"
Magnitude 2 = Drinks ripple, hanging lamps jiggle. People say, "Oh, cool!"
Magnitude 3 = Furniture shakes, dishes clatter along with some people's teeth.
Magnitude 4 = Furniture rocks back and forth. Some things may fall off of shelves. Newcomers to Japan scream and head for the exits. Everyone else just freezes.
Magnitude 5 = Some furniture may topple. Windows may break. Possible damage to more delicate structures.
Magnitude 6 = Catastrophic interior redecoration. Widespread structural damage.
Magnitude 7 = Many buildings and other structures collapse.
Magnitude 8 = All those little, smoldering piles used to be a city.
Magnitude 9 = A mass of churned-up earth is all that remains.
Magnitude 10 = A section of the crustal plate flips upside down.
Magnitude 11 = Earth splits in half.

The Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which leveled wide swaths of Kobe, was magnitude 7.7. The Great Tokyo Earthquake of 1924 was magnitude 8.1. Tonight, a town in Niigata was hit by a magnitude 6.8 temblor at least three times, and by tremors of magnitude 5.4-6.2 several more times in an among those. At the time of writing, the last time I had the news on, which was half an hour ago, the reporters hadn't yet gotten any word from the town at the epicenter. Apparently its power is down and all routes of communication cut off for the time being. We have no idea what state that poor town is in.
As for us here in Aso, I stood in this room watching the rack for this computer swaying back and forth with my heart in my mouth. The big pantry in the next room was up on two corners. Fortunately, the only casualty was a model of Darth Vader's Imperial Star Destroyer Taiki had made out of Brix blocks (or at least that's what he said it was). I'm really hoping it stays that way. Living next to an active fault line is something that you don't really think about until it suddenly decides to move.

Speaking of which, what has Mt. St. Helens been up to lately?


The Moody Minstrel said...

Okay, leave it to CNN. For more information, consult:

The Moody Minstrel said...

Another update:

The CNN article mentions that the earthquakes occurred within a 40-minute period. Actually, they are still going. There was another fairly strong shock about half an hour ago, and we just had another, less powerful one five minutes ago. This has been a very active sequence of seismic events, and it is making people very worried. The Tone River Fault Line seems to have gone loco.

The area at the epicenter of the quake, in Niigata Prefecture, has been hit pretty hard. There is still little concrete data, but a lot of houses have been damaged if not collapsed. This is still further proof of what the Great Hanshin Earthquake showed all too well 9 years ago: The long-held belief that wooden houses are more earthquake-proof on account of their being "more flexible" is a load of crock. Concrete, metal, or brick structures on shock-resistant foundations held up the best by far.

Don Snabulus said...

Good luck to you and those around you! These typhoons and earthquakes seem to have one thing in common. The Moody Minstrel. Perhaps you are causing them. Maybe if you changed your diet, the land around you would calm down. Just a thought.

Seriously, I hope these quakes are going to subside soon and let us know if there are ways for us to help people there (realizing that Japan doesn't really want aid workers messing up the good works of the Yakusa).

A glance at Yahoo shows an unsuccessful suicide bomber is a top story while a major swarm of earthquakes is not on the main radar. Nothing new there.

Thanks for taking over while we take off.