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An Earthquake in Japan?


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An Earthquake in Japan?

The massive earthquake shook Japan at the start of the new year.
A picture of the destruction due to the earthquake. ©Japan Ministry of Defence
A picture of the destruction due to the earthquake. ©Japan Ministry of Defence

Earthquakes in Japan have been common throughout its history. The country is right on top of the convergent boundaries of the Eurasia, Pacific and Philippine Plates, causing Japan to suffer from earthquakes almost every single year. Most of these earthquakes are small, with magnitudes of around 5-6 and usually no casualties. This year, however, was different: a much bigger earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula in Japan at the very beginning of 2024, causing 241 deaths and injuring 1296 people.

What is an Earthquake?

To understand this tragic earthquake, we first have to know what earthquakes actually are. Earthquakes are an event that happens when two pieces or slabs of the earth suddenly slip past each other. This causes a massive shake or vibration to happen to anything above or near that collision point, like Japan in the case of this earthquake. This is why earthquakes cause so much damage; many buildings aren’t capable of undergoing as much shaking as they’re put through by an earthquake. There are different kinds of shocks caused by earthquakes: foreshocks, mainshocks and aftershocks. Mainshocks are the biggest type of shock caused by an earthquake, usually being the shock of highest strength when compared to the other two shocks caused by an earthquake. Foreshocks are a mini shock that occurs in the same area a mainshock would occur, only a little bit before and at a lower power. Aftershocks are the last type of shock; they occur after the mainshock happens, are a much smaller magnitude and can go on for years after a mainshock occurs. The majority of Japan’s earthquakes are aftershocks with a couple mainshocks and foreshocks in between.

What Happened at the Earthquake?

Map of affected area by Noto Earthquake.
©Japanese Red Cross Society

Now that we know a little bit more about earthquakes, we can talk about the big one that just hit Japan. The earthquake hit the Noto Peninsula in the Ishikawa Prefecture on January 1st, 2024. What makes this one more special than the others that happened over the years is that this one is most likely a mainshock and not an aftershock or foreshock. We can assume this due to how big this earthquake was when compared to the other ones that have happened before. However, just because we think that it was the mainshock does not mean that it still couldn’t be a foreshock. So, just how big was this earthquake? Well, it reached an approximate magnitude of 7.6 and killed 241 people, not counting those injured and affected by its destruction. It also produced some of the most damage to infrastructure Japan has seen since an earthquake at Honshu back in 2011. This most recent earthquake was absolutely devastating for that area and many have been made homeless and injured because of these earthquakes.

What is Japan Doing About it?

Red Cross Volunteers transporting relief items.   ©Japanese Red Cross Society

This earthquake is a very dangerous issue for all people affected and the Japanese government has taken initiative about sending aid. According to the Japanese Red Cross society, they have sent out 297 Emergency Medical Relief Teams, 93 Disaster Medical Coordination Teams and in total 1368 Red Cross Volunteers as of February 19th. They have also distributed emergency aid materials across the affected areas. This includes 16,005 blankets, 5,230 sleeping comfort kits, 2,224 family emergency sets, 3400 portable toilets and 500 towels and cassette stoves. These relief items will help to make sure no one else will die, and they will eventually get back on their feet. The Red Cross Society is also providing families who have lost contact with loved ones information about their possible location and an emergency disaster message dial. Overall, Japan has been taking this event very seriously and have been trying to help as many people as they can. The government is on the right track to get everyone back on their feet.

Works Cited:

Japan Ministry of Defence. Japanese: Search Operations Using Drones. 7 Jan.
2024. Wikipedia, 7 Jan. 2024,
File:JSDF_Noto_Earthquake_2024-01-07_4_%28Search_by_Drone%29.jpg. Accessed
7 Feb. 2024.

“Operation Update No.24 : 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake: The Japanese Red Cross
Society’s Response.” Japanese Red Cross Society, 31 Jan. 2024, Accessed 2
Feb. 2024.

“Foreshocks, Aftershocks – What’s the Difference?” USGS,
foreshocks-aftershocks-whats-difference. Accessed 2 Feb. 2024.

“What Is an Earthquake and What Causes Them to Happen?” USGS,
%20always,the%20shaking%20that%20we%20feel. Accessed 2 Feb. 2024. 30 Jan. 2024,
Accessed 2 Feb. 2024.

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About the Contributor
Jasper Hultgren
Jasper Hultgren, Staff Writer and Editor
My name is Jasper and I'm an 8th Grader in the Wolf Pod. This is my third year on the Colt. I am interested in anime, video games and biology. I hope you enjoy my future written pieces!

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