AIR Worldwide report shows the changing earthquake risks seen in Japan

Japan Earthquake 2011AIR Worldwide, a prestigious catastrophe modeling firm serving the global insurance industry, has released a new report titled “Understanding Earthquake Risk in Japan Following the Tohoku-Oki Earthquake of March 11, 2011.” The quake that struck Japan last year was a magnitude -9.0 and caused a fair amount of damage in Northern provinces. The quake itself did not cause a severe level of damage but it did trigger a massive tsunami that cut a swath of destruction in the country and spurred a nuclear crisis.

AIR’s scientists have been conducting detailed analysis of the aftermath of the catastrophe, hoping to determine whether the stresses relieved by the event were transferred to other faults within the Ring of Fire, the geologic site of most of the world’s seismic activity. AIR believes that the quake has shifted the probability for similar events throughout the nation. According to the report, AIR suspects that there is now a 81-to-93% chance of a magnitude-6.7 or above seismic event occurring in the Kanto Plain, which would have dire implications for Tokyo.

Tokyo is renown throughout the world for its earthquake resistant structures. Many of the tall buildings in the city are situated on shock-absorbing cushions and built in such a way that grants them flexibility when the earth begins to shift. Nonetheless, AIR believes that the risk seen in Japan has increased and that action should be taken to mitigate any future disasters.

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