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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Nuclear Meltdowns And A Shift Of The Earth's Axis

The devastation from the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and following Tsunami in Japan is widespread as news reports show thousands dead, tens of thousands missing, Japan's nuclear reactors going into meltdown, hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated and the Japanese coast has literally moved 8 feet as the Earth's axis shifted.

Video coverage of the quake and subsequent Tsunami was covered the day of the event but followup news shows the true devastation and challenges facing Japan now.

Linkage below:

NYT reports on the partial meltdown of two of Japan's nuclear reactors:

Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were bracing for a second explosion, even as they faced serious cooling problems at four more reactors.

The emergency appeared to be the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. The developments at two separate nuclear plants prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people. Japanese officials said they had also ordered up the largest mobilization of their Self-Defense Forces since World War II to assist in the relief effort.

On Saturday, Japanese officials took the extraordinary step of flooding the crippled No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 170 miles north of Tokyo, with seawater in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear meltdown. That came after an explosion caused by hydrogen that tore the outer wall and roof off the building housing the reactor, although the steel containment of the reactor remained in place.

Then on Sunday, cooling failed at a second reactor — No. 3 — and core melting was presumed at both, said the top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. An explosion could also rock the No. 3 reactor, Mr. Edano warned, because of a buildup of hydrogen within the reactor.

More at CNN on the reactors, the explosions and the meltdowns.

In other news, the Earthquake that hit as well as the 160 aftershocks, most reaching the level of a 5.0 magnitude or higher, has literally moved the main island of Japan 8 feet and shifted the Earth's axis:

"At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen 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," said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

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).

More news and discussion about Japan's tragedy and the after affects in the wake of the earthquake and Tsunami over at Memeorandum.