Monday, March 10, 2014

Megaquake: Hour that Shook Japan": Discovery Channel film provides front seat to 2011 quake, warns about US and Canada west coast

Megaquake: Hour that Shook Japan”, from the Discovery Channel, narrated by Eric Meyers and directed by Marc Tiler, recreates the first hour after the 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan in March 2011. Most of the program shows the effect of the quake itself, even in Tokyo and Sendai to the north, as reported by American and western visitors (especially teachers) such as Wesley Julian and Paula Lutzie.  The first tremor lasted over five minutes, and numerous aftershocks followed quickly.  By way of comparison, the 5.8 quake in central Virginia in August 2011 lasted about 20 seconds.  I recall that.  It started with a roar (like the generator coming on) followed by some moderate shaking for a few seconds, which stopped, but it was startling.  Discovery Channel’s link is here. The film (38 minutes) does remind one of the History Channel "megadisaster" series aired in 2008.  
Then the film does cover the tsunami and the ruin of the Fukushima power plant, and interviews a firefighter who went in for the cleanup.  Older men, with less life expectancy, were asked to volunteer for duty afterward.  The film says that the tsunami was 120 feet high in some locations along the Japanese east coast.
The film also shows the tsunami, which had become small by the time it reached the pleasant communities along the southern California coast. 
It then pointed out recent large earthquakes near Chile and Indonesia, and wonders if the US West Coast is next.  It shows the San Andreas Fault, and then turns its attention to the Cascadia Fault off the coast of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  People in coastal areas would not even have time for a tsunami warning.
A large volcano or earthquake-driven landslide in the Canary Islands (near the Cumbre Vieja volcano) could send a tsunami perhaps 200-300 feet high at the outset toward the US East Coast.  Tsunamis can cross the ocean at 500 mph. 
BBC has a documentary “Megaquake Could Hit North America”, link on YouTube here

The idea of disasters on this scale raises the question of how hundreds of thousands to millions of homeless people would be housed, even beyond the scale of Katrina.  Is that a responsibility all should share?