Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PBS Nova airs two-part film on Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with graphic footage

PBS Nova on Wednesday night Sept. 28 aired two hours of film on the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

The first hour was a rebroadcast, “Japan’s Killer Quake”. It showed actual footage in Tokyo of the duration of the quake, which was much longer than usual for any quake.   The film depicts liquefaction of soil in Tokyo, with the emergence of water from the cracks.  he resulting tsunami is explained, and depicted as a “glacier of debris”.  A three-foot wave hit Hawaii with plenty of warning but did enormous damage to low-lying areas.  It even reached the California coast.  The tsunami also pushed rivers uphill and produced a salt-water lake in lower sections of the mountains. In one town, a thirty-foot retaining seawall fails because the ground sank three feet in the earthquake.

The inability of the electric utility to cool the nuclear power plant because of power failure is briefly explained.

Here is the link for the first hour.

The second hour is called “Surviving the Tsunami”.  It provides harrowing, by-minute accounts of people caught by the tsunami when they went back to check on their property.  The film would use a red circle to show the location of the person in danger and actually stop for a moment.

The mechanics of the tsunami are explained in more detail. The tsunami was “gradual” and exacerbated by a hard layer of undersea sediment, which hides many small faults.  This “stratum of sediments” structure can make a tsunami larger  -- in this case, sometimes over 30 meters. Is this a lesson to be learned in looking at the Cumbre Viejo volcano in the eastern Atlantic, since it could send a huge tsunami to the US East Coast?  
In one town on an inlet, residents could not see the tsunami until it was already upon them. Parents were caught at an elementary school rescuing kids, and police were surprised by the approach of a “debris glacier” when they went to respond to earthquake-caused accidents.

The film has truly graphic footage, shocking in high definition.

The link is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for animated illustration

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