The Associated Press reported March 11, 2011 that the worst earthquake in recorded history to ever strike Japan hypocentered off the Oshika Peninsula today March 11, 2011. It is the fifth worst earthquake worldwide with a stunning 8.9 magnitude that shook the not so tiny island as if it were merely a sandbar.
And it may as well be; the offshore quake propelled a tsunami that came crashing inland with 30-foot waves rushing at hundreds of miles an hour. The entire Pacific Ocean instantly became a turbulent blue mega-swathe with powerful currents and deadly waves. As the entire western coastline of the Americas evacuated the coastal areas, massive hoards of fish evacuated the depths appearing as black swarms beneath the blue tide along the coasts, as if trying to leap on land to get further away from peril. The Hawaiian Islands stood alone helplessly awaiting what would be waves one-third in size of those that decimated Japan.
In Japan, the death-toll now stands at hundreds and could easily reach thousands. The coastal inland is a beach of debris, homes and businesses destroyed, vehicles and boats piled on and under ships and planes. Huge fires rage on the water-top like blazing aircraft carriers. Hundreds of bodies swirl amidst the debris; hundreds more are missing. It is the aftermath of war with Poseidon and Japan has lost. As Japan, battered, and brokenly, raises a white-flag-of-surrender, the victor cruelly continues to remind them of their loss with some 50-plus aftershocks.
The U.S.-allied, oriental, island country is, undoubtedly, in a national state of emergency. Nuclear power plants reel toward meltdown. Gas plants burn uncontrollably. Railroads and highways are separated. Communications are down. Around the globe 45, and counting, countries race to help the stranded island continent.
How much can little Japan take? As if the record-breaking quake/tsunami, nearly 65 years after its nuclear holocausts of 1945, were not enough devastation, destruction, and sorrow for a millennium, it now faces, yet another, nuclear threat as five nuclear reactors within two of its plants experiences a 1000% increase in radiation.
The plant’s cooling operations were jeopardized by the impact of the tsunami. Its back-up diesel generators left inoperable. United States Air Force jets were scrambled, carrying emergency coolant to the plant. Japanese government officials hurriedly ordered an evacuation of thousands of people within a 6 mile radius of the plant. The plan? Vent the combusting radiation which has already risen a thousand times normal radiation level. Should the generators not get the cooling system up and running soon, and the fuel starts to melt, Japan could have a major nuclear accident at hand.
Experts are comparing the incident to the accident at the Three-Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania, U.S. in 1979. Similarly, one of the reactors suffered a loss of coolant. Without a sufficient method of cooling, by default, a reactor, even though in a state of shut-down, creates what is known as “decay-heat”, which is heat released as a result of radioactive decay.
As in the accident at Three-Mile Island, if the Japanese plant continues to create decay-heat, the plant will “melt-down” and massive amounts of radiation will be exposed to the atmosphere and environment in just a matter of hours or days.
The human, animal, environmental, and economic aspects are not the only impacts of the Japanese earthquake felt around the globe. A NASA geophysicist, Richard Gross, has calculated that the earth’s rotation was jarred, speeding it up by 1.6 millionth of a second due to the shifting of the earth’s mass.
I can almost personally vouch for Gross’s theoretical calculation: Up with my 4 year-old son all night, cooling his 103 degree fever, I had dozed off and was awakened by a sudden movement of our fifth-wheel camper trailer we were sleeping in at a campground in Tennessee, U.S. The jar was so significant that I could conclude nothing but a wind. But there was no wind! By noon, when I awoke, I learned of the quake in Japan which happened shortly after I had dozed off.
Without a doubt, the effects of this earthquake can only be imagined from the surface. As time will tell and more news discovered, I believe I can say, without speculation, the entire Pacific is in trouble, Japan first and foremost.
May all the countries of the world pool efforts and make a mole hill out of a disaster.
Deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families.