Elspeth Lodge Mar 15, 2011 – 2:44 PM ET | Last Updated: Mar 15, 2011 5:18 PM ET
Reports released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on Monday updated the magnitude of the March 11 earthquake in northern Honshu, Japan to a 9.0. on the Richter Scale. (Initial estimates pegged the quake as 8.9). Below, understanding the change, and how an earthquake’s final magnitude is determined.
What do the numbers on the scale mean in terms of magnitude?
More than eight on the moment magnitude scale means “great magnitude”; Seven means “major magnitude”; Six “strong magnitude,” Five “moderate magnitude”; Four “light magnitude”; three “minor magnitude”; two and one are both “micro magnitude.”
Why do scale ratings vary?
The USGS updates an earthquake’s magnitude in the hours and sometimes during the days following a quake. The reasons boil down to the following: a) More data becomes available for analysis b) More time-intensive analysis is performed. “Additional updates are possible as a part of the standard procedure of assembling a final earthquake catalog,” says the USGS on their website. “After the initial magnitude is released, there are generally two processing points at which the magnitude of a significant earthquake may be updated. The first generally comes within a few hours of the earthquake, when the majority of the real-time data has arrived at seismic stations around the earth and more sophisticated, time- intensive, processing has been completed,” says USGS. “The second comes within days to weeks after the event when the event is reanalyzed for inclusion in an archival earthquake catalog. At this point the USGS has received most available seismograms as well as magnitude estimates from other contributing national and international agencies.”
More on one of the information sources, The Global Seismographic Network….
“‘The Global Seismographic Network’ is a permanent digital network of state-of-the-art seismological and geophysical sensors connected by a telecommunications network,” says USGS. The system serves as a multi-use scientific facility and societal resource for monitoring, research, and education. The system of gauging quakes was formed in partnership among the USGS, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS).
“The GSN provides near-uniform, worldwide monitoring of the Earth, with over 150 modern seismic stations distributed globally,” says the USGS on their website. “GSN stations are operated by the USGS Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory, the IDA group at UC San Diego, and other affiliate organizations. Data from the GSN are archived at the IRIS Data Management Center.”
REUTERS/U.S. President Barack Obama (C) receives a briefing on the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami warnings across the Pacific in the Oval Office, March 11, 2011. Briefing the President, from left, are Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan, National Security Staff Senior Director for Resilience Richard Reed, and National Security Staff Director Asian Affairs Daniel Russel.
Elspeth Lodge Mar 11, 2011 – 5:08 PM ET
World leaders have come together to express their condolences and offer words of support to Japan after a devastating earthquake (find our complete coverage here). Below, the latest from Canadian and world politicians on the quake.
Canada’s Prime Minister spoke Friday to Japan’s Ambassador to Canada and offered assistance, said the PM in a statement.
“The first thing is to offer sympathy and condolences to the Japanese people,” he told AFP. “We have had a terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature.”
David Johnston, Governor General of Canada
“My wife, Sharon, and I were shocked and extremely saddened to learn of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck parts of Japan today,” Mr. Johnston said in a statement on his website. “On behalf of all Canadians, we would like to offer sincere condolences to those who are suffering in the wake of this catastrophe. The enormity of the disaster and the images of destruction that have followed are truly humbling, underscoring our fragility as human beings and the importance of our solidarity as peoples.”
Toronto mayor Rob Ford
“I have contacted Mr. Tetsuo Yamashita, Consul General of Japan in Toronto, and have offered my condolences and support during this time. Toronto is home to approximately 14,500 people of Japanese origin who contribute to the diversity that makes Toronto special. When a tragedy like this occurs, it is felt by everyone in Toronto.”
U.S. President Barack Obama
Mark Wilson / Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the South Court Auditorium at Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. President Obama discussed the earthquake that has devastated Japan and spoke about rising energy prices among other issues.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama called Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to offer help, an official told AFP. And the first lady also sent her condolences: “(First lady) Michelle (Obama) and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron
“The first thing is to offer sympathy and condolences to the Japanese people,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said. “We have had a terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he “wanted to express our solidarity with the Japanese people. I want to tell all the Japanese people that France stands with you in this terrible catastrophe… We will send rescue teams, planes, whatever is needed to help.”
China’s Premier Wen Jiabao
Premier Wen Jiabao, whose country is no stranger to major quakes, expressed his “deep sympathy” to the Japanese government and people, and offered any “necessary help” to its neighbour, the foreign ministry told to AFP.
The Indian Foreign Ministry
“We are saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage to property and infrastructure,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
South Korea expressed its sympathy and pledged “every possible support” to help neighbour Japan recover, adding that around 40 rescue workers had been put on standby to head to the quake-hit nation.
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse
In Sri Lanka, badly hit by the 2004 tsunami, President Mahinda Rajapakse said Japan was a “very close and dear friend” and its people possessed “incredible resilience and courage” to overcome destruction.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said his country was ready to help, reports AFP.
With files from AFP
Elspeth Lodge February 24, 2011 – 1:53 pm
A group of knee-high androids have crossed the starting line in Osaka, Japan for the first ever robot marathon, reported the BBC.
The race, which started on Thursday, is expected to take about four days and will require 423 laps around an indoor track.
The rules are as follows: bot operators are allowed to change robots’ batteries and motors during the race, but they can’t pick them up if they fall over — the droids must right themselves.
The robots gathered for a training session one week ago to test the waters.
Elspeth Lodge November 23, 2010 – 2:13 pm
Momo or “Peach” is a cute, fuzzy, feminine name, but in January this pint-sized Chihuahua will join the Japanese Police Department as a valuable asset to its disaster rescue squad, becoming its first three-kilogramme (seven-pound) police dog.
On Friday, Momo proved that bigger isn’t always better when she won a one-year contract after sniffing out a human target after smelling its cap. She did this in a disaster simulation environment, in under five minutes. Seventy dogs tried out for the force, among them much larger breeds like Golden Retrievers, German Shepards and Beagles — but only 32 made the cut.
Momo’s small, high-pitched bark cannot terrify the enemy– and her bite is probably as feeble as her bark– but she has an enormous advantage in certain disaster situations– being able to fit her small frame into spaces other dogs can’t. This makes her a valuable asset after earthquakes and other natural disaster situations where people are often trapped under rubble.
“We would like it to work hard by taking advantage of its small size,” said a spokeswoman to Sankei Shimbun Daily, reports Yahoo News.
Momo’s owner is Keiko Matsuyoshi, an office worker in Sakurai, according to Japan Today. After Momo made the squad, Matsuyoshi rewarded her by cooking her favorite dish of chicken breasts stewed in tomatoes.