The Devastating Occurrence Of Natural Disasters

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1, INTRODUCTION The devastating occurrence of natural disasters happen every year, affecting millions of individuals all over the world. Unfortunately, these events cannot be prevented as they are natural processes of the Earth, being uncontrollable and often unpredictable.1 On March 11th 2011, at 2:46 p.m JST, the northeastern coast of Japan would face its’ worst nightmare (Fig. 1).2 This day marks the birth of the fifth largest earthquake in the world recorded with modern instruments, now known as the “2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami”. A magnitude 9.0 mW megathrust earthquake shuddered northeastern Japan, triggering a powerful tsunami wave moments after.3 Figure 1 - North Eastern Japan Map 1.1 Megathrust Earthquakes Earthquakes happen when the movement of two plates of the Earth slip past one another, causing friction of land masses along a surface called fault lines.4 Beneath the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and right above the surface of the earth is called the epicenter (Fig. 2)5 The world’s largest and deadliest earthquakes are megathrust earthquakes, with magnitudes exceeding 9.0 mW at times. These powerful earthquakes occur in subduction zones, a region where one of the Earth’s tectonic plates is thrust under another.6 Figure 2 - Earthquake hypocenter and epicenter 1.2 Tsunamis These astonishing and massive ocean waves are typically caused by large undersea earthquakes at tectonic plate boundaries, causing
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