Earthquake information, resources, & links

As I’ve been mentioning, we’ve had earthquakes in Japan everyday since March 11.  I’ve been reporting the ones I notice to the USGS and following up to find out their magnitudes.  This afternoon alone we had a 5.3 and 6.0 quake.

Just got an e-mail from USGS.  Aftershock two hours ago (about 11:30 p.m. Tokyo time, 3/16/11) was 4.7:

There have been hundreds of aftershocks following the devastating magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck off the East Coast of Japan on March 11. More than two dozen are greater than magnitude 6, the size of the earthquake that severely damaged Christchurch, NZ last month.USGS.

The USGS and Japan have also updated Friday’s quake to 9.0.  See the USGS press release for more info.

Though the Prime Minister of Japan warned people to stay indoors yesterday (while the radiation in Tokyo was comparable to a chest x-ray), radiation in our area has been decreasing.  It’s still not a real threat to us.  Mike found a very helpful chart tracking it.  And, total Japanese style, there’s a cute infographic about radiation here from

News coverage
I’m really disappointed with the New York Times‘ coverage of the earthquake.  Chalk it up to the new 24-hour news system, but each article contains minimal new information.  I find myself scouring through articles only to read all the same things I already know.  There may be one new bit of information hidden amongst the rest.  Last night, one article copy/pasted three paragraphs verbatim from a previous article.  I understand incorporating relevant information, but some of the things can be summarized at this point.

If you want to read responsible, concise coverage, see the Washington Post.

One of the most grievous errors has been the comparisons to Chernobyl.  Conveniently, I can’t find the specific article now.  The information they’re leaving out is that (A) the Chernobyl reactors were ON at the time of the explosion, (B) there was no containment vessel for the rods, and (C) the damage from Chernobyl was massive.  Yes, there were three explosions and a fire (in an ordinary room at the plant) as opposed to one, but it’s five days later and there still hasn’t been a meltdown.  They’ve got a follow-up article, Fukushima Accident Not Like Chernobyl, so maybe The Times realized their error.

TimeOut Tokyo’s Twitter feed has been publishing some helpful updates and links (including Japan earthquake live report – an incredibly helpful resource so far).  They’ve criticized UK tabloids for depicting Tokyo as chaotic.  Things in Tokyo, Oyama, and many parts of southern Japan are functionally, more or less, normally.  Sure, there’s less train service and possible blackouts, but people aren’t running through the streets in these areas.

Geography references
Measuring about 125 miles wide, Tokyo is about three times the size of Manhattan.  Keep that in mind when seeing references to Tokyo in news articles.  Though we’re about 60 miles north of Tokyo, we could be over 100 miles away from any given point referenced.

And, initially, many photographs lacked specific locations.  They were simply narrowed down to prefecture (kind of like a state in Japan).

Sometimes, there’s just no real information.  Another Times article mentioned, “a powerplant north of Tokyo” experienced difficulties sometime on Monday.  That was all the information.  No plant name or actual location.  Shame on them.

As you can imagine, we’ve been obsessively reading about all of this.   I’ll be sure to keep posting good resources we find, and if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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