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After the Earth QuakesElastic Rebound on an Urban Planet$
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Susan Elizabeth Hough and Roger G. Bilham

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179132

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195179132.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 October 2021

The 1923 Kanto Earthquake: Surviving Doomsday

The 1923 Kanto Earthquake: Surviving Doomsday

(p.170) 8 The 1923 Kanto Earthquake: Surviving Doomsday
After the Earth Quakes

Susan Elizabeth Hough

Roger G. Bilham

Oxford University Press

Citizens of Yokohama and Tokyo were just sitting down to their Saturday noonday meal on the morning of September 1, 1923, when the great Kanto earthquake struck. The time, 11:58:44, was precisely documented by seismometers, which were by this time commonplace. In 1923, Tokyo was already a bustling urban center and port city, home to over 2 million people. Yokohama was an important port and industrial center as well, with a population of more than 400,000. As had been the case in Charleston, observers gave differing descriptions of the initial shaking; some witnesses described the same gradual onset that residents of Somerville, South Carolina, had experienced. In Yokohama, however, Otis Manchester Poole wrote that, in contrast to other temblors that allowed time for contemplative speculation (“How bad is this one going to be?”), . . . This time . . . there was never more than a few moment’s doubt; after the first seven seconds of subterranean thunder and creaking spasms, we shot right over the border line. The ground could scarcely be said to shake; it heaved, tossed and leapt under one. The walls bulged as if made of cardboard and the din became awful. . . . For perhaps half a minute the fabric of our surroundings held; then came disintegration. Slabs of plaster left the ceilings and fell about our ears, filling the air with a blinding, smothering fog of dust. Walls bulged, spread and sagged, pictures danced on their wires, flew out and crashed to splinters. Desks slid about, cabinets, safes and furniture toppled, spun a moment and fell on their sides. It felt as if the floor were rising and falling beneath one’s feet in billows knee high. . . . Poole could not gauge how much time elapsed during the tumult but cited an official record of four minutes. Although the earthquake damaged all of the seismographs operated by the seismological station at Tokyo University, Professor Akitsune Imamura and his staff were at work within minutes of the earthquake, analyzing the seismograms.

Keywords:   accelerometer, base isolation, concrete, disease, engineering, fires, hazard, interconnectedness, looting, magnitude

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