Earthquakes Galore


Yes, I am fine! I was awakened in the morning by a rocking house, but it was so gentle I decided not to move from the futon. It did last for a rather long time (as quakes go), which was a little concerning. If things built up I was ready to move to the door.

I am a very long way from the epicenter with was in Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県) so things there must have been a bit frightening. We had several earthquakes after that which were not sensible here.

There are two kinds of waves in a typical earthquake. The first travels faster and serves as an early warning system here. An extensive array of sensors determines the epicenter and sends signals to various systems rapidly. One system announces information on our TVs, so we can move to safety. Another system automatically brakes the Shinkansen (新幹線) bullet trains to avoid derailing at high speed. We also receive lots of tsunami (津波) bulletins through the TV as well.

Two years ago the Shinkansen derailed for the first time ever. In that case the two types of waves for the earthquake were very close together; the quake hit peak strength so rapidly that the braking system could not kick in. Scientists and engineers have been studying this in detail to come up with a better system. The derailment occurred just after passing an oncoming train in a tunnel. Had the earthquake been a little earlier, it would have spelled disaster on a grand scale. As it turned out the train skidded to a stop upright and everyone was unloaded safely.


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