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Whole Lot of Quakin’ Going On

November 27, 2011

By Mr. Doerr

‘Twas the night of an earthquake, and as quiet as a mouse some some tectonic plates slightly moved the house.

All the children were sleeping all snug in their beds, dreaming of sugar plums or something that they really want, maybe a bowl of ice cream, cuz really what the heck is a sugar plum?

It started slowly and sounded like a garbage truck on the street, but wasn’t loud enough to bring anyone to their feet.

The glass of water on the bedside table began to rock, my mother fell out of  bed and her head she did knock.

A few picture frames were a little askew, but how they got that way, no one really knew.

Some toys and some books fell down to the ground, and the stuff in the fridge got rattled around.

If we’d been awake we’d have thought it was a big garbage truck, but since it was 4:30 am we slept right through, just our luck.

I looked around, but couldn’t find any proof, but I thought it was cuz a big fat dude had fallen off of our roof.

When we woke in the morning, we saw on the news.  That we’d just had an earthquake that was measured at 4.2.

It turns out they’re felt all over by girls and by boys, the one just described was felt right here in Illinois.  

Okay, that’s enough rhyming… let’s get down to the whats and whys.  Earthquakes are just one of mother nature’s great powers, and they tend to be the most famous and most misunderstood of these types of phenomenon.  The simple answer of why the happen is moving plates.  As two tectonic plates move that movement causes vibrations.  The place where two plates touch is known as a fault.  There’s a fault line that runs through Southern Illinois and a few running through Japan.  No matter where you are, the tectonic plates are always moving and will always move forever.  There are nearly 100,000  earthquakes a day around the world.  There’s no getting away from them.

Japan’s earthquakes come from the Pacific plate running into the Asian plate. The type of fault create is a convergent boundary.  That’s when one plate is sliding under the other.

Japan has recently had some large earthquakes, but that is nothing new.  In fact, earthquakes are so common over there that the Japanese have created a mythical story to help explain how earthquakes happen.  They believe the god Namazu is responsible for the earth shaking.  Namazu is a large cat fish who hangs out with Kashima.  Kashima’s another god who got the crappiest job any diety’s ever had – hold onto the giant fish to prevent earthquakes.  Sometimes Namazu gets away and the earth starts shaking.

I know what you’re thinking, how could a cat fish be big enough to shake the earth, but I don’t mean a sort of big catfish, I mean a ginormous, swallow your mom sized fish.  There are some rather large cat fish in Japan and some have even been accused of swallowing the family dog or small children, so if you take a look around the internet to see some of the gigantic catfish caught in Japan, it’s easy to see where they come up with the idea of a huge fish thrashing around causing quakes.

This past year the northern region of Japan experienced an earthquake over 9.0 on the Richter scale.  A 9.0 would be roughly 20 times stronger than the little earthquakes we might feel every few years in Illinois.  The earthquake had several key parts that created the large amount of destruction.  The first was the shallowness of the quake, the closer to the surface the more the waves are felt.  The second was the fact the fault was under water.  The combination of these two factors created the large wide spread damage and the tsunami that followed.  Japan has had several quakes over the years but none bigger than the one they experienced back in March.   The quake actually moved the whole island of Japan 13 feet closer to China.  The good news for us is that it’s very unlikely that another quake like this will happen again for centuries – It is known as a once in a lifetime quake.

The other good news is that all this activity under the earth’s surface creates some beautiful landscape.  Japan is one of the most amazing islands in the world.   We’ll be happy to make it through Japan without any seismic activity, but just take a look at what it’s created…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nailah permalink
    November 28, 2011 5:18 pm

    Nice rythme mr.doerr lol

  2. Nailah Fisher permalink
    November 28, 2011 5:19 pm

    have fun with your stories

  3. cj moody permalink
    December 7, 2011 6:49 pm

    this actually made me laugh…

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