The earthquake that struck Mie Ibaraki and Fukushima shook
When a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck on November 14, all of the shaking occurred far from the focal center, while nothing was felt near it.
The earthquake occurred at 5:09 pm on November 14 at a depth of 350 km off the southeast coast of Mie Prefecture. But no seismic intensity was recorded in neighboring regions, including Mie Prefecture, which is close to the epicenter in central Japan.
However, the earthquake scored as high as 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures.
The prefectural capital of Mie Fetsu is about 300 km from Tokyo, 400 km from the prefectural capital of Ibaraki Mito, and about 500 km from Fukushima City.
According to a senior seismologist, this all has to do with exactly where the earthquake occurred, underground.
Takashi Furumura, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute, said the November 14 quake is classified as a “deep-focus earthquake” because its epicenter was deep underground. And it struck inside the Pacific Plate, which lies below it near Japan.
He said the tremors are transmitted through the plate, so the shaking was recorded in places closer to where the plate begins to sink into the Earth’s interior, such as the Kanto and Tohoku regions.
But according to Furumura, the mantle just above the hypocenter is soft, making it less likely for tremors to travel through it.
Furumura explained that an earthquake with a deep focus is less likely to cause an aftershock than an earthquake that has a low center at a shallow depth.
“Even a highly focused earthquake can cause a tremor of 5 or more on the Japanese seismic intensity scale if it reaches a larger magnitude,” he said. “I want the (November 14) earthquake to be an opportunity to encourage everyone to review their disaster preparations.”
When the shaking occurs in areas far from the hypocenter rather than in areas close to it, experts call it an “abnormal intensity zone.”
Furumura said that earthquakes around this size occur off the southeast coast of Mie Prefecture every few years that come with areas of abnormal intensity.
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