Japan: Earthquake Risk Shows in New Large Quake

Japan once again showed its earthquake risk to the world as an estimated 7.8-magnitude quake hit off the coast on Saturday, causing tremors and shaking buildings in Tokyo. Fortunately, there were no reports of tsunamis.

Japan Sits on High Risk Location

The country sits where four tectonic plates meet, which causes Japan to have an earthquake risk of about 20 percent a year. This particular quake was reported to have an epicenter about 874 kilometers from Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean, according to the US Geological Survey, and was at a depth of 696 kilometers, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Japan Earthquake Risk One of the Highest in World

Japan is known to have a very high earthquake risk. EQECAT is a company that shows the earthquake risk of an area. The model uses 1,300 years of earthquake history to help determine a specific country’s earthquake risk.

History has shown that some of the biggest earthquakes in the world have hit in Japan. In 2011, the M9 Tohoku-oki 9.0-magnitude quake hit Japan. It is the fourth largest quake ever recorded and the most expensive — it caused more than $200 billion worth of damage, thousands of casualties, and it caused the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear energy plant and a large tsunami to hit the northeast coast of Japan.

Deep Tremors are Less Damaging

The current quake on Saturday wasn’t anywhere near the magnitude of damage or loss of the 2011 earthquake, but it still shows the constant earthquake risk faced by its residents. In fact, it was the second quake to hit the area this past week, after another earthquake was recorded near the capital city of Tokyo on Monday.

This latest quake was centered deep underground at 696 meters, which earthquake science shows makes it less likely to trigger something such as a deadly tsunami like the one in 2011 did. In addition, a deep underground earthquake has also generally been shown to cause less damage, since the quake can dissipate to some extent before it hits the surface.

No matter the magnitude, this latest earthquake in Japan shows its residents the continued earthquake risk in their country and that they should be prepared at all times.