The human tragedy in Japan, following the huge quake is still unfolding. One cannot but hope for as quick-as-possible return to normality for the people of Japan, although we all know it will take time, and for those who were hurt or have lost a loved-one, life will not and cannot be the same again.
One way of trying to grasp such an enormous, difficult nature disaster, is by trying to break it into numbers. It doesn't change the facts of the tragedy, but helps broaden the perspective a little.
At least for me, and people like me, who try to find the rationale behind the events.
Lets be clear - I'm not talking about the kind of questions "why do bad things happen to good people?", to which my answer would be "No one really knows, and it is a part of the sad nature of life on earth, and probably of life in every place in the multi-verse".
I'm talking of the kind of questions of -
"What the F*** ?!? Why was this earth quake so strong ? what is the mechanics of such natural disasters ? how can we understand them better ? can we learn one day to prevent them ? control them ? at least prepare to prevent their tragic damages ? "
It turns out -
- "Japan is located along the Pacific "ring of fire," an area of high seismic and volcanic activity stretching from New Zealand in the South Pacific up through Japan, across to Alaska and down the west coasts of North and South America"
- "The quake occurred as the Earth's crust ruptured along an area about 250 miles (400 kilometers) long by 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide, as tectonic plates slipped more than 18 meters".
- "The temblor, which struck Friday afternoon near the east coast of Japan...caused the formation of 30-foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns...Some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland..."
- "one GPS station moved (8 feet), and ... a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,"
- "Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters)."