600 Million Hiroshima Bombs – 80 Years of Global Energy Usage In Just Minutes

Der Spiegel here gives us a good idea of the scale and magnitude of Japan’s massive Sendai earthquake, which weighed in at 9.0 on the Richter scale. It ought to remind some of us of nature’s fury and that we are powerless to steer it.

The earthquake occurred in the western Pacific Ocean, 130 km (81 mi) east of Sendai, Honshu, Japan. Its epicenter was 373 km (232 mi) from Tokyo, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Massive energy

The earthquake opened up a 400 km long gash in the ocean floor, releasing a surface energy of 1.9×1017  joules (according to the USGS). The total energy released underground was about 205,000 times that on the surface.

This energy is equivalent to about 9.32 teratons of TNT, or approximately 600 million Hiroshima bombs, or about 80 years of global energy usage, estimated to be 4.74×1020 joules for the year of 2008 [Wikipedia]. That’s arguably more energy than what all of mankind has ever used so far.

Earth gets a facelift

All that energy gave the surface of the globe a facelift, literally. Wikipedia writes:

According to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the earthquake’s enormous strength shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led a number of small changes, including those to the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.6 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.

A report by the U.S. Geological Survey said that Honshu, the main island of Japan, was shifted 2.4 m (7.9 ft) toward the east. Researcher Lucy Jones said of the precise data, “The Japanese have the best seismic information in the world… This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake ever.”

Der Spiegel lists the top 11 earthquakes measured since 1900; location, year and strength:

1. Valdivia, Chile – 1960 – 9.5
2. Prince William Sound, Alaska – 1964 – 9.2
3. West Sumatra – 2004 – 9.1
4. Japan -2011 – 9.0
5. Kamtschatka – 1952 – 9.0
6. Chile – 2010 – 8.8
7. Ecuador – 1906 – 8.8
8. Rat Islands, Alaska – 1965 – 8.7
9. North Sumatra – 2005 – 8.6
10. Assam – 1950 – 8.6
11. South Sumatra – 1957 – 8.6

Strangely these events are bunched in the 1950s – 60s and the 2000s.

The Sendai earthquake has also unleashed of tsunami of hysteria here in Germany, where many media outlets are busy quoting organizations like Greenpeace on the risks of atomic power. The earthquake obviously has driven another nail into nuclear energy’s coffin in Germany, having galvanised opposition even more. So forget nuclear energy in Germany in the future. The results of the upcoming state elections will show this.

Read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_2011_earthquake

UPDATE: Some of the earthquake energy data I mentioned above came from Wikipedia, and has mysteriously disappeared from their site.

15 responses to “600 Million Hiroshima Bombs – 80 Years of Global Energy Usage In Just Minutes”

  1. DirkH

    “The earthquake obviously has driven another nail into nuclear energy’s coffin in Germany, having galvanised opposition even more.”

    Let’s see. It’s an INES 4 event; Three mile Island was a 5. Chernobyl was a 7, the highest category. Before this event, we had 70% against nuclear, 30% pro (in a German poll i’ve seen) – i don’t think this event will make many people switch sides. Maybe one can say: The future of nuclear power is as dead now in Germany as it was yesterday – we have no development activities here. Except for the odd maker of gas centrifuges or turbines or high voltage DC transmissions – which are, as it happens, the best worldwide in their respective classes…

    So the future will look much like the past – our neighbouring nations erect nuclear plants on their territory, fitted with German components, running their fuel cycle on German machinery, and we import the produced electricity via HVDC lines onto the unspoiled holy German soil…

    One could even say that this is a rather rational way of minimizing any risk, given the fact that Germany is one of the more densely populated countries. Best of all, we export the nuclear waste problem.

    BTW, about nuclear waste and the reduction thereof by using Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR)- a fascinating TechTalk by Kirk Sorensen:

    His blog:

    1. Nonoy Oplas

      But Germany and the rest of Europe, except eastern most part of Russia, are not part of the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. If people are scared of nuke power plants because of fear of strong earthquakes, it’s far out, I think.

  2. R. de Haan

    Don’t worry about it DirkH,

    The people pushing the AGW scare and the anti nuclear lobby come from the same stable.

    Besides that we have sufficient shale gas to fuel our economies for the remainder of the century and beyond.

    If they don’t develop new resources, just immigrate.

    There is no chance nuclear power projects planned all over the world are stopped.

    1. DirkH

      In fact i’m not worried. I know that tomorrow my colleagues will ask me whether i’m still pro-nuclear, and i will say yes and explain to them why, and i will have a whole lot of fun frustrating them.

      Germany and some other rich nations, like Norway and Iceland, can happily do their thing without nuclear energy.

      India, not so much, but they’re smart. They go for Thorium in solid form.

  3. Concern continues after tsunami | Digging in the Clay

    […] Pierre Gosselin’s NoTricksZone has a summary from Der Speigel and other sources of the amount of energy released by the quake that is worth reading: https://notrickszone.com/2011/03/13/600-million-hiroshima-bombs-80-years-of-global-energy-usage-in-ju… […]

  4. DirkH
  5. R. de Haan

    This is a good help for you Dirk H: Fukushima for dummies

    And forget about Europe, it only exists in the minds of the globalists, the corrupt profiteers, the criminals that run the EU and our lunatic politicians who sold us out.

  6. R. de Haan

    Here you have both the quake and AGW

    Richard Muller on hide the decline

  7. grayman

    Nuclear generation so near fault lines is a disaster waiting to happen, what kind of fault lines are in Germany or Europe for that matter, so Dirk when your friends think your nuts for supporting nuclear remind them that there are no faults in Europe. That is if there are none, i do not know.

    1. DirkH

      Northern Germany has zero earthquakes. There are fault lines in the South West, near the Eiffel, and at the Bodensee, i think. But nothing big; nowhere in Germany do we have special building codes to make buildings earthquake-proof.

      To my surprise, my colleagues didn’t argue with me but were thankful for the info i could give them… (I was reading the WUWT thread, they got their info from the MSM so they didn’t know what was happening. Getting technical info from language majors is a nonstarter.)

  8. pointman

    “We look at our world and the universe with human eyes and more importantly, with a human lifespan. In terms of the latter, we see an apparently ageless and unchanging view but it’s a false impression. When looked at through the eyes of “deep” time, it is dynamic, violent and forever changing. There is no ideal static harmonious state which must be maintained. There never was and there never will be either.”


    We’ll never stop things like Sendai or climate change.


  9. Jimbo

    Talking of longer and shorter days here are 2 things that will be caused by global warming. Both are peer reviewed.

    Earth’s rotation to slow down [2002]
    Earth’s rotation to speed up [2007]

  10. R. de Haan

    Yeah Jimbo, And both publications are utter “hog wash” but hey, Antrophogenic, Emmissions, Climate Change and the word ‘negative’ etc. was mentioned a lot.

    I really wonder if peer review over the past years has been reduced to word counting.

    Thanks for the links, I didn’t have these reports in my rubbish collection.

  11. R. de Haan

    How a land mass ‘jumps’ during an earthquake.

  12. stc

    Using the USGS number of 200,000 TJ for the earth quake, where TJ=10^12 Joules (the WAG I remember was 7,000 TJ), and given the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan were on the average 74 JT, so how does one arrive at 2/3 of trillion 74 TJ bombs?

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