Japan is positioned on the margin of the Eurasian plate. The Philippine Sea Plate is subducted below the Eurasian plate at a rate of about 10 centimetres per year resulting Japan having greater than average seismic and volcanic activity. The city of Kobe is located just to the north of where the Philippines Plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian plate, which fractured as a result, to produce the median tectonic line. This then puts a strain on the crust behind it which has then fractured to produce a new fault zone. Movement in this fault zone resulted in the great Hanshin earthquake. A 30-50 km long rupture of a strike-slip fault occurred close to and under downtown Kobe. The eruption towards the north ruptured towards Kobe. The earthquake’s shallow depth of 16 km and close proximity to the built-up area meant that buildings and structures were subjected to much ground-shaking and soil liquefaction
On Tuesday, January 17th 1995, at 5.46 am (local time), an unexpected earthquake of magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale struck the Kobe region of south-central Japan, the shallow depth of the focus which was only about 16 kilometres below the surface and the fact that the epicentre occurred close to a very heavily populated area caused a great destruction. Seismic shockwaves travelled from Awaji Island (the epicentre) along the Nojima Fault to the cities of Kobe and Osaka. This region is the second most populated and industrialized area after Tokyo, with a total population of about 10 million. The ground shook for only 20 seconds but in that short time around 5,000 people died, over 300,000 people became homeless and economic cost of about £100 billion was caused to roads, houses, factories and infrastructure. However Japan is known for its earthquakes proof structures. So why did so many people die? In this essay I will explain all the effects of the earthquake, why so many people died and what could have prevented some of these deaths.