2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake
|Date||July 16, 2007|
|Peak acceleration||1.01 g|
|Casualties||11 dead, over 1120 injured|
The Chūetsu Offshore earthquake (Japanese: 平成19 年（2007 年）新潟県中越沖地震) was a powerful magnitude 6.6 earthquake that occurred 10:13 local time (01:13 UTC) on July 16, 2007, in the northwest Niigata region of Japan. The earthquake, which occurred at a previously unknown offshore fault shook Niigata and neighbouring prefectures. The city of Kashiwazaki and the villages of Iizuna and Kariwa registered the highest seismic intensity of a strong 6 on Japan's shindo scale, and the quake was felt as far away as Tokyo. Eleven deaths and at least 1000 injuries were reported, and 342 buildings were completely destroyed, mostly older wooden structures. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe broke off from his election campaign in Southern Japan to visit Kashiwazaki and promised to "make every effort towards rescue and also to restore services such as gas and electricity".
This magnitude 6.6 earthquake occurred approximately 17 km off the west coast of Honshū, Japan, in a zone of compressional deformation that is associated with the boundary between the Amur plate and the Okhotsk plate. At this latitude, the Okhotsk Plate is converging to the west-northwest towards the Amur Plate with a velocity of about 9 mm/yr and a maximum convergence rate of 24 mm/yr. The Amur and Okhotsk plate are themselves relatively small plates that lie between the Eurasian Plate and the Pacific Plate. The Pacific plate converges west-northwest towards the Eurasia plate at over 90 mm/yr. Most of the relative motion between the Pacific plate and the Eurasia plate is accommodated approximately 400 km to the east-southeast of the epicenter of the earthquake, where the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Okhotsk plate.
This shallow crustal earthquake was followed 13 hours later by a deep focus magnitude 6.8 quake roughly 330 km to the west, 350 km below the Sea of Japan. The two earthquakes were generated by different mechanisms. The first earthquake was caused by deformation within the crust of the Okhotsk plate and the second quake was likely caused by faulting resulting from internal deformation of the subducted Pacific plate. Given their different mechanisms and physical separation of at least 10 rupture lengths, the second earthquake is not considered an aftershock of the first.
Shallow earthquakes cause more damage than intermediate- and deep-focus ones since the energy generated by the shallow events is released closer to the surface and therefore produces stronger shaking than is produced by quakes that are deeper within the Earth. The peak ground acceleration generated was 993 gal (1.01 g).
Toyota motor announced it stopped production in all of its factories because of the damage done to the Riken parts plant in Kashiwazaki, Niigata. Nissan also had to shut down two factories. Furthermore, Tanigawa-Shaitoyama automobiles permanently shut down their automobile production due to huge losses. Production resumed in Toyota, Mazda, and Honda plants on July 25, after damaged equipment and gas and water supplies were restored. Toyota's production losses amounted to between 46,000 or possibly 55,000 vehicles. Nissan lossed 12,000 vehicles.
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant incidents
The earthquake caused a leak of radioactive gases from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. A small amount of water from the spent fuel pool leaked out but plant operators said the leak was low and did not present any environmental danger. The earthquake also caused a fire in an electrical transformer at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant that was extinguished after two hours.
The government requested that the plant remain closed pending safety inspections. The IAEA offered to send a team of experts to inspect the plant. The Japanese government initially declined the offer but later accepted it after Niigata Prefecture legislature asked for confidence building efforts to counter public concern about the reactor. Following the incident Dr Kiyoo Mogi, chair of Japan's Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction, called for the immediate closure of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, which was built close to the centre of the expected Tōkai earthquake.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2007 Chūetsu earthquake.|
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