Japan ‘highly likely’ to be hit by huge earthquake that will spark tsunamis within the next 30 years, report warns
- Panel examined chance of a quake hitting the country’s east in the next 30 years
- They say probability of quake between 7 and 7.5 magnitude is up to 90 per cent
- A tremor of this strength would cause widespread damage and trigger tsunamis
- But they say the chance of a mega-quake measuring 9 or more is non-existent
It is highly likely that Japan will be hit by a huge earthquake causing widespread damage and tsunamis within the next three decades, researchers have warned.
A panel of government analysts said the risk of an earthquake between magnitude 7 and 7.5 striking the Japan Trench, off the country’s east coast, in the next 30 years is up to 90 per cent.
Presenting the findings, committee chairman Naoshi Hirata warned: ‘We want the public to keep in mind that strong quakes and tsunami will hit regions facing the trench again.’
Researchers split the Japan Trench, off the country’s east coast, into sections and estimated the chance of an earthquake striking each one. Two regions were given a 90 per cent chance of being hit by an earthquake between magnitude 7 and 7.5 over the next 30 years
The research committee was set up to study the chance of quakes hitting Japan in the aftermath of the magnitude 9 tremor which hit in 2011, and killed almost 16,000 people (file)
As part of their project, Hirata and his team split the Japan Trench – where the Pacific plate slips beneath the continental plate – into sections.
Based on the number of big quakes seen previously and the intervals between them, the researchers gave a probability of a fresh quake in each section.
For Aomori Prefecture, northern Iwate Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture, the chances of a quake between 7 and 7.5 magnitude was estimated at 90 per cent over 30 years.
The area off Ibaraki Prefecture was given an 80 per cent chance of a quake, while Fukushima Prefecture was 50 per cent, Japan Times reported.
Southern Iwate Prefecture was given a 30 per cent chance of an earthquake.
For its latest report, the team also assigned a risk category ranging from 1 to 3 to each section for an earthquake up to magnitude 8.
Category 1 is the lowest risk, and means the chances of an earthquake up to magnitude 8 are less than three per cent.
While researchers say it is ‘highly likely’ an earthquake of up to magnitude 8 will strike in the next three decades, they see almost no chance of a magnitude 9 quake of the kind that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant (pictured)
A landslide which occurred in Hokkaido, northern Japan, after an earthquake hit in 2018
Category 2 means the risk of a quake up to magnitude 8 are between three per cent and 26 per cent, and Category 3 means the odds of such a quake are 26 per cent or higher.
The majority of areas were classified as 3 or above, with probabilities of a major quake increased in two areas.
The largest increase came off Miyagi Prefecture, where the chances of a magnitude 7.9 tremor were increased to 20 per cent, up from zero in the last survey.
However, the panel saw almost zero per cent chance of a mega-quake of magnitude 9 or above, such as the one that struck in March 2011.
The Tohoku earthquake killed almost 16,000 people, mostly by drowning after it generated a tsunami that measured up to 133ft tall.
It also destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant, causing one of the reactors to melt down in a disaster which is still being cleared up to this day.
The government established the earthquake research committee in the wake of the 2011 disaster, and their latest report was released on Tuesday.