Learning from Megadisasters: A Decade of Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake

March 11, 2021 Tokyo, Japan

Authors: Shoko Takemoto,  Naho Shibuya, and Keiko Sakoda


Today marks the ten-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE), a mega-disaster that marked Japan and the world with its unprecedented scale of destruction. This feature story commemorates the disaster by reflecting on what it has taught us over the past decade in regards to infrastructure resilience, risk identification, reduction, and preparedness, and disaster risk finance.  Since GEJE, the World Bank in partnership with the Government of Japan, especially through the Japan-World Bank Program on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries has been working with Japanese and global partners to understand impact, response, and recovery from this megadisaster to identify larger lessons for disaster risk management (DRM).

Among the numerous lessons learned over the past decade of GEJE reconstruction and analysis, we highlight three common themes that have emerged repeatedly through the examples of good practices gathered across various sectors.  First is the importance of planning. Even though disasters will always be unexpected, if not unprecedented, planning for disasters has benefits both before and after they occur. Second is that resilience is strengthened when it is shared .  After a decade since GEJE, to strengthen the resilience of infrastructure, preparedness, and finance for the next disaster, throughout Japan national and local governments, infrastructure developers and operators, businesses and industries, communities and households are building back better systems by prearranging mechanisms for risk reduction, response and continuity through collaboration and mutual support.  Third is that resilience is an iterative process .  Many adaptations were made to the policy and regulatory frameworks after the GEJE. Many past disasters show that resilience is an interactive process that needs to be adjusted and sustained over time, especially before a disaster strikes.

As the world is increasingly tested to respond and rebuild from unexpected impacts of extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic, we highlight some of these efforts that may have relevance for countries around the world seeking to improve their preparedness for disaster events.

Introduction: The Triple Disaster, Response and Recovery

On March 11th, 2011 a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan, near the Tohoku region. The force of the earthquake sent a tsunami rushing towards the Tohoku coastline, a black wall of water which wiped away entire towns and villages. Sea walls were overrun. 20,000 lives were lost. The scale of destruction to housing, infrastructure, industry and agriculture was extreme in Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures. In addition to the hundreds of thousands who lost their homes, the earthquake and tsunami contributed to an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, requiring additional mass evacuations. The impacts not only shook Japan’s society and economy as a whole, but also had ripple effects in global supply chains. In the 21st century, a disaster of this scale is a global phenomenon.

The severity and complexity of the cascading disasters was not anticipated. The events during and following the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) showed just how ruinous and complex a low-probability, high-impact disaster can be. However, although the impacts of the triple-disaster were devastating, Japan’s legacy of DRM likely reduced losses. Japan’s structural investments in warning systems and infrastructure were effective in many cases, and preparedness training helped many act and evacuate quickly. The large spatial impact of the disaster, and the region’s largely rural and elderly population, posed additional challenges for response and recovery.

Ten years after the megadisaster, the region is beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, even if many places look quite different. After years in rapidly-implemented temporary prefabricated housing, most people have moved into permanent homes, including 30,000 new units of public housing . Damaged infrastructure has been also restored or is nearing completion in the region, including rail lines, roads, and seawalls.

In 2014, three years after GEJE, The World Bank published Learning from Megadisasters: Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake . Edited by Federica Ranghieri and Mikio Ishiwatari , the volume brought together dozens of experts ranging from seismic engineers to urban planners, who analyzed what happened on March 11, 2011 and the following days, months, and years; compiling lessons for other countries in 36 comprehensive Knowledge Notes . This extensive research effort identified a number of key learnings in multiple sectors, and emphasized the importance of both structural and non-structural measures, as well as identifying effective strategies both pre- and post-disaster. The report highlighted four central lessons after this intensive study of the GEJE disaster, response, and initial recovery:

1) A holistic, rather than single-sector approach to DRM improves preparedness for complex disasters; 2) Investing in prevention is important, but is not a substitute for preparedness; 3) Each disaster is an opportunity to learn and adapt; 4) Effective DRM requires bringing together diverse stakeholders, including various levels of government, community and nonprofit actors, and the private sector.

Although these lessons are learned specifically from the GEJE, the report also focuses on learnings with broader applicability.

Over recent years, the Japan-World Bank Program on Mainstreaming DRM in Developing Countries has furthered the work of the Learning from Megadisasters report, continuing to gather, analyze and share the knowledge and lessons learned from GEJE, together with past disaster experiences, to enhance the resilience of next generation development investments around the world. Ten years on from the GEJE, we take a moment to revisit the lessons gathered, and reflect on how they may continue to be relevant in the next decade, in a world faced with both seismic disasters and other emergent hazards such as pandemics and climate change.

Through synthesizing a decade of research on the GEJE and accumulation of the lessons from the past disaster experience, this story highlights three key strategies which recurred across many of the cases we studied. They are:

1) the importance of planning for disasters before they strike, 2) DRM cannot be addressed by either the public or private sector alone but enabled only when it is shared among many stakeholders , 3) institutionalize the culture of continuous enhancement of the resilience .

For example, business continuity plans, or BCPs, can help both public and private organizations minimize damages and disruptions . BCPs are documents prepared in advance which provide guidance on how to respond to a disruption and resume the delivery of products and services. Additionally, the creation of pre-arranged agreements among independent public and/or private organizations can help share essential responsibilities and information both before and after a disaster . This might include agreements with private firms to repair public infrastructures, among private firms to share the costs of mitigation infrastructure, or among municipalities to share rapid response teams and other resources. These three approaches recur throughout the more specific lessons and strategies identified in the following section, which is organized along the three areas of disaster risk management: resilient infrastructure; risk identification, reduction and preparednes s ; and disaster risk finance and insurance.

Lessons from the Megadisaster

Resilient Infrastructure

The GEJE had severe impacts on critical ‘lifelines’—infrastructures and facilities that provide essential services such as transportation, communication, sanitation, education, and medical care. Impacts of megadisasters include not only damages to assets (direct impacts), but also disruptions of key services, and the resulting social and economic effects (indirect impacts). For example, the GEJE caused a water supply disruption for up to 500,000 people in Sendai city, as well as completely submerging the city’s water treatment plant. [i] Lack of access to water and sanitation had a ripple effect on public health and other emergency services, impacting response and recovery. Smart investment in infrastructure resilience can help minimize both direct and indirect impacts, reducing lifeline disruptions. The 2019 report Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity found through a global study that every dollar invested in the resilience of lifelines had a $4 benefit in the long run.

In the case of water infrastructure , the World Bank report Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services: The Case of Japan documents how Sendai City learned from the disaster to improve the resilience of these infrastructures. [ii] Steps included retrofitting existing systems with seismic resilience upgrades, enhancing business continuity planning for sanitation systems, and creating a geographic information system (GIS)-based asset management system that allows for quick identification and repair of damaged pipes and other assets. During the GEJE, damages and disruptions to water delivery services were minimized through existing programs, including mutual aid agreements with other water supply utility operators. Through these agreements, the Sendai City Waterworks Bureau received support from more than 60 water utilities to provide emergency water supplies. Policies which promote structural resilience strategies were also essential to preserving water and sanitation services. After the 1995 Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake (GHAE), Japanese utilities invested in earthquake resistant piping in water supply and sanitation systems. The commonly used earthquake-resistant ductile iron pipe (ERDIP) has not shown any damage from major earthquakes including the 2011 GEJE and the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. [iii] Changes were also made to internal policies after the GEJE based on the challenges faced, such as decentralizing emergency decision-making and providing training for local communities to set up emergency water supplies without utility workers with the goal of speeding up recovery efforts. [iv]

Redundancy is another structural strategy that contributed to resilience during and after GEJE. In Sendai City, redundancy and seismic reinforcement in water supply infrastructure allowed the utility to continue to operate pipelines that were not physically damaged in the earthquake. [v] The Lifelines report describes how in the context of telecommunications infrastructure , the redundancy created through a diversity of routes in Japan’s submarine internet cable system  limited disruptions to national connectivity during the megadisaster. [vi] However, the report emphasizes that redundancy must be calibrated to the needs and resources of a particular context. For private firms, redundancy and backups for critical infrastructure can be achieved through collaboration; after the GEJE, firms are increasingly collaborating to defray the costs of these investments. [vii]

The GEJE also illustrated the importance of planning for transportation resilience . A Japan Case Study Report on Road Geohazard Risk Management shows the role that both national policy and public-private agreements can play. In response to the GEJE, Japan’s central disaster legislation, the DCBA (Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act) was amended in 2012, with particular focus on the need to reopen roads for emergency response. Quick road repairs were made possible after the GEJE in part due to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)’s emergency action plans, the swift action of the rapid response agency Technical Emergency Control Force (TEC-FORCE), and prearranged agreements with private construction companies for emergency recovery work. [viii] During the GEJE, roads were used as evacuation sites and were shown effective in controlling the spread of floods. After the disaster, public-private partnerships (PPPs) were also made to accommodate the use of expressway embankments as tsunami evacuation sites. As research on Resilient Infrastructure PPPs highlights, clear definitions of roles and responsibilities are essential to effective arrangements between the government and private companies. In Japan, lessons from the GEJE and other earthquakes have led to a refinement of disaster definitions, such as numerical standards for triggering force majeure provisions of infrastructure PPP contracts. In Sendai City, clarifying the post-disaster responsibilities of public and private actors across various sectors sped up the response process. [ix] This experience was built upon after the disaster, when Miyagi prefecture conferred operation of the Sendai International Airport   to a private consortium through a concession scheme which included refined force majeure definitions. In the context of a hazard-prone region, the agreement clearly defines disaster-related roles and responsibilities as well as relevant triggering events. [x]

Partnerships for creating backup systems that have value in non-disaster times have also proved effective in the aftermath of the GEJE. As described in Resilient Industries in Japan , Toyota’s automotive plant in Ohira village, Miyagi Prefecture lost power for two weeks following GEJE. To avoid such losses in the future, companies in the industrial park sought to secure energy during power outages and shortages by building the F-Grid, their own mini-grid system with a comprehensive energy management system. The F-Grid project is a collaboration of 10 companies and organizations in the Ohira Industrial Park. As a system used exclusively for backup energy would be costly, the system is also used to improve energy efficiency in the park during normal times. The project was supported by funding from Japan’s “Smart Communities'' program. [xi] In 2016, F-grid achieved a 24 percent increase in energy efficiency and a 31 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to similarly sized parks. [xii]


Schools are also critical infrastructures, for their education and community roles, and also because they are commonly used as evacuation centers. Japan has updated seismic resilience standards for schools over time, integrating measures against different risks and vulnerabilities revealed after each disaster, as documented in the report Making Schools Resilient at Scale . After the 2011 GEJE, there was very little earthquake-related damage; rather, most damage was caused by the tsunami. However, in some cases damages to nonstructural elements like suspending ceilings in school gymnasiums limited the possibility of using these spaces after the disaster. After the disaster, a major update was made to the policies on the safety of nonstructural elements in schools, given the need for higher resilience standards for their function as post-disaster evacuation centers [xiii] .

Similarly, for building regulations , standards and professional training modules were updated taking the lessons learned from GEJE. The Converting Disaster Experience into a Safer Built Environment: The Case of Japan report highlights that, legal framework like, The Building Standard Law/Seismic Retrofitting Promotion Law, was amended further enhance the structural resilience of the built environment, including strengthening structural integrity, improving the efficiency of design review process, as well as mandating seismic diagnosis of large public buildings. Since the establishment of the legal and regulatory framework for building safety in early 1900, Japan continued incremental effort to create enabling environment for owners, designers, builders and building officials to make the built environment safer together.

Cultural heritage also plays an important role in creating healthy communities, and the loss or damage of these items can scar the cohesion and identity of a community. The report Resilient Cultural Heritage: Learning from the Japanese Experience shows how the GEJE highlighted the importance of investing in the resilience of cultural properties, such as through restoration budgets and response teams, which enabled the relocation of at-risk items and restoration of properties during and after the GEJE. After the megadisaster, the volunteer organization Shiryō-Net was formed to help rescue and preserve heritage properties, and this network has now spread across Japan. [xiv] Engaging both volunteer and government organizations in heritage preservation can allow for a more wide-ranging response. Cultural properties can play a role in healing communities wrought by disasters: in Ishinomaki City, the restoration of a historic storehouse served as a symbol of reconstruction [xv] , while elsewhere repair of cultural heritage sites and the celebration of cultural festivals served a stimulant for recovery. [xvi] Cultural heritage also played a preventative role during and after the disaster by embedding the experience of prior disasters in the built environment. Stone monuments which marked the extent of historic tsunamis served as guides for some residents, who fled uphill past the stones and escaped the dangerous waters. [xvii] This suggests a potential role for cultural heritage in instructing future generations about historic hazards.

These examples of lessons from the GEJE highlight how investing in resilient infrastructure is essential, but must also be done smartly, with emphasis on planning, design, and maintenance. Focusing on both minimizing disaster impacts and putting processes in place to facilitate speedy infrastructure restoration can reduce both direct and indirect impacts of megadisasters.  Over the decade since GEJE, many examples and experiences on how to better invest in resilient infrastructure, plan for service continuity and quick response, and catalyze strategic partnerships across diverse groups are emerging from Japan.

Risk Identification, Reduction, and Preparedness

Ten years after the GEJE, a number of lessons have emerged as important in identifying, reducing, and preparing for disaster risks. Given the unprecedented nature of the GEJE, it is important to be prepared for both known and uncertain risks. Information and communication technology (ICT) can play a role in improving risk identification and making evidence-based decisions for disaster risk reduction and preparedness. Communicating these risks to communities, in a way people can take appropriate mitigation action, is a key . These processes also need to be inclusive , involving diverse stakeholders--including women, elders , and the private sector--that need to be engaged and empowered to understand, reduce, and prepare for disasters. Finally, resilience is never complete . Rather, as the adaptations made by Japan after the GEJE and many past disasters show, resilience is a continuous process that needs to be adjusted and sustained over time, especially in times before a disaster strikes.

Although DRM is central in Japan, the scale of the 2011 triple disaster dramatically exceeded expectations. After the GEJE, as Chapter 32 of Learning From Megadisasters highlights, the potential of low-probability, high-impact events led Japan to focus on both structural and nonstructural disaster risk management measures. [xviii] Mitigation and preparedness strategies can be designed to be effective for both predicted and uncertain risks. Planning for a multihazard context, rather than only individual hazards, can help countries act quickly even when the unimaginable occurs. Identifying, preparing for, and reducing disaster risks all play a role in this process.

The GEJE highlighted the important role ICT can play in both understanding risk and making evidence-based decisions for risk identification, reduction, and preparedness. As documented in the World Bank report Information and Communication Technology for Disaster Risk Management in Japan , at the time of the GEJE, Japan had implemented various ICT systems for disaster response and recovery, and the disaster tested the effectiveness of these systems. During the GEJE, Japan’s “Earthquake Early Warning System” (EEWS) issued a series of warnings. Through the detection of initial seismic waves, EEWS can provide a warning of a few seconds or minutes, allowing quick action by individuals and organizations. Japan Railways’ “Urgent Earthquake Detection and Alarm System” (UrEDAS) automatically activated emergency brakes of 27 Shinkansen train lines , successfully bringing all trains to a safe stop. After the disaster, Japan expanded emergency alert delivery systems. [xix]


The World Bank’s study on Preparedness Maps shows how seismic preparedness maps are used in Japan to communicate location specific primary and secondary hazards from earthquakes, promoting preparedness at the community and household level. Preparedness maps are regularly updated after disaster events, and since 2011 Japan has promoted risk reduction activities to prepare for the projected maximum likely tsunami [xx] .

Effective engagement of various stakeholders is also important to preparedness mapping and other disaster preparedness activities. This means engaging and empowering diverse groups including women, the elderly, children, and the private sector. Elders are a particularly important demographic in the context of the GEJE, as the report Elders Leading the Way to Resilience illustrates. Tohoku is an aging region, and two-thirds of lives lost from the GEJE were over 60 years old. Research shows that building trust and social ties can reduce disaster impacts- after GEJE, a study found that communities with high social capital lost fewer residents to the tsunami. [xxi] Following the megadisaster, elders in Ofunato formed the Ibasho Cafe, a community space for strengthening social capital among older people. The World Bank has explored the potential of the Ibasho model for other contexts , highlighting how fueling social capital and engaging elders in strengthening their community can have benefits for both normal times and improve resilience when a disaster does strike.

Conducting simulation drills regularly provide another way of engaging stakeholders in preparedness. As described in Learning from Disaster Simulation Drills in Japan , [xxii] after the 1995 GHAE the first Comprehensive Disaster Management Drill Framework was developed as a guide for the execution of a comprehensive system of disaster response drills and establishing links between various disaster management agencies. The Comprehensive Disaster Management Drill Framework is updated annually by the Central Disaster Management Council. The GEJE led to new and improved drill protocols in the impacted region and in Japan as a whole. For example, the 35th Joint Disaster simulation Drill was held in the Tokyo metropolitan region in 2015 to respond to issues identified during the GEJE, such as improving mutual support systems among residents, governments, and organizations; verifying disaster management plans; and improving disaster response capabilities of government agencies. In addition to regularly scheduled disaster simulation drills, GEJE memorial events are held in Japan annually to memorialize victims and keep disaster preparedness in the public consciousness.

Business continuity planning (BCP) is another key strategy that shows how ongoing attention to resilience is also essential for both public and private sector organizations. As Resilient Industries in Japan demonstrates, after the GEJE, BCPs helped firms reduce disaster losses and recover quickly, benefiting employees, supply chains, and the economy at large. BCP is supported by many national policies in Japan, and after the GEJE, firms that had BCPs in place had reduced impacts on their financial soundness compared to firms that did not. [xxiii] The GEJE also led to the update and refinement of BCPs across Japan. Akemi industrial park in Aichi prefecture, began business continuity planning at the scale of the industrial park three years before the GEJE. After the GEJE, the park revised their plan, expanding focus on the safety of workers. National policies in Japan promote the development of BCPs, including the 2013 Basic Act for National Resilience, which was developed after the GEJE and emphasizes resilience as a shared goal across multiple sectors. [xxiv] Japan also supports BCP development for public sector organizations including subnational governments and infrastructure operators. By 2019, all of Japan’s prefectural governments, and nearly 90% of municipal governments had developed BCPs. [xxv] The role of financial institutions in incentivizing BCPs is further addressed in the following section.

The ongoing nature of these preparedness actions highlights that resilience is a continuous process. Risk management strategies must be adapted and sustained over time, especially during times without disasters. This principle is central to Japan’s disaster resilience policies. In late 2011, based on a report documenting the GEJE from the Expert Committee on Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Management, Japan amended the DCBA (Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act) to enhance its multi-hazard countermeasures, adding a chapter on tsunami countermeasures. [xxvi]

Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance

Disasters can have a large financial impact, not only in the areas where they strike, but also at the large scale of supply chains and national economy. For example, the GEJE led to the shutdown of nuclear power plants across Japan, resulting in a 50% decrease in energy production and causing national supply disruptions. The GEJE has illustrated the importance of disaster risk finance and insurance (DRFI) such as understanding and clarifying contingent liabilities and allocating contingency budgets, putting in place financial protection measures for critical lifeline infrastructure assets and services, and developing mechanisms for vulnerable businesses and households to quickly access financial support. DRFI mechanisms can help people, firms, and critical infrastructure avoid or minimize disruptions, continue operations, and recover quickly after a disaster.

Pre-arranged agreements, including public-private partnerships, are key strategies for the financial protection of critical infrastructure. The report Financial Protection of Critical Infrastructure Services (forthcoming) [xxvii] shows how pre-arranged agreements between the public sector and private sector for post-disaster response can facilitate rapid infrastructure recovery after disasters, reducing the direct and indirect impacts of infrastructure disruptions, including economic impacts. GEJE caused devastating impacts to the transportation network across Japan. Approximately 2,300 km of expressways were closed, representing 65 percent of expressways managed by NEXCO East Japan , resulting in major supply chain disruptions [xxviii] .  However, with the activation of pre-arranged agreements between governments and local construction companies for road clearance and recovery work, allowing damaged major motorways to be repaired within one week of the earthquake. This quick response allowed critical access for other emergency services to further relief and recovery operations.

The GEJE illustrated the importance of clearly defining post-disaster financial roles and responsibilities among public and private actors in order to restore critical infrastructure rapidly . World Bank research on Catastrophe Insurance Programs for Public Assets highlights how the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency  (JRTT) uses insurance to reduce the contingent liabilities of critical infrastructure to ease impacts to government budgets in the event of a megadisaster. Advance agreements between the government, infrastructure owners and operators, and insurance companies clearly outline how financial responsibilities will be shared in the event of a disaster. In the event of a megadisaster like GEJE, the government pays a large share of recovery costs, which enables the Shinkansen bullet train service to be restored more rapidly. [xxix]

The Resilient Industries in Japan   report highlights how diverse and comprehensive disaster risk financing methods are also important to promoting a resilient industry sector . After the GEJE, 90% of bankruptcies linked to the disaster were due to indirect impacts such as supply chain disruptions. This means that industries located elsewhere are also vulnerable: a study found that six years after GEJE, a greater proportion of bankruptcy declarations were located in Tokyo than Tohoku. [xxx] Further, firms without disaster risk financing in place had much higher increases in debt levels than firms with preexisting risk financing mechanisms in place. [xxxi] Disaster risk financing can play a role pre-disaster, through mechanisms such as low-interest loans, guarantees, insurance, or grants which incentivize the creation of BCPs and other mitigation and preparedness measures.  When a disaster strikes, financial mechanisms that support impacted businesses, especially small or medium enterprises and women-owned businesses, can help promote equitable recovery and help businesses survive. For financial institutions, simply keeping banks open after a major disaster can support response and recovery. After the GEJE, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) and local banks leveraged pre-arranged agreements to maintain liquidity, opening the first weekend after the disaster to help minimize economic disruptions. [xxxii] These strategies highlight the important role of finance in considering economic needs before a disaster strikes, and having systems in place to act quickly to limit both economic and infrastructure service impacts of disasters.

Looking to the Future

Ten years after the GEJE, these lessons in the realms of resilient infrastructure, risk identification, reduction and preparedness, and DRFI are significant not only for parts of the world preparing for tsunamis and other seismic hazards, but also for many of the other types of hazards faced around the globe in 2021. In Japan, many of the lessons of the GEJE are being applied to the projected Nankai Trough and Tokyo Inland earthquakes, for example through modelling risks and mapping evacuation routes, implementing scenario planning exercises and evacuation drills , or even prearranging a post-disaster reconstruction vision and plans. These resilience measures are taken not only individually but also through innovative partnerships for collaboration across regions, sectors, and organizations including public-private agreements to share resources and expertise in the event of a major disaster.

The ten-year anniversary of the GEJE finds the world in the midst of the multiple emergencies of the global COVID-19 pandemic, environmental and technological hazards, and climate change. Beyond seismic hazards, the global pandemic has highlighted, for example, the risks of supply chain disruption due to biological emergencies. Climate change is also increasing hazard exposure in Japan and around the globe. Climate change is a growing concern for its potential to contribute to hydrometeorological hazards such as flooding and hurricanes, and for its potential to play a role in secondary or cascading hazards such as fire. In the era of climate change, disasters will increasingly be ‘unprecedented’, and so GEJE offers important lessons on preparing for low-probability high-impact disasters and planning under uncertain conditions in general.

Over the last decade, the World Bank has drawn upon the GEJE megadisaster experience to learn how to better prepare for and recover from low-probability high-impact disasters. While we have identified a number of diverse strategies here, ranging from technological and structural innovations to improving the engagement of diverse stakeholders, three themes recur throughout infrastructure resilience, risk preparedness, and disaster finance. First, planning in advance for how organizations will prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters is essential, i.e. through the creation of BCPs by both public and private organizations. Second, pre-arranged agreements amongst organizations for sharing resources, knowledge, and financing in order to mitigate, prepare, respond and recover together from disasters and other unforeseen events are highly beneficial. Third, only with continuous reflection, learning and update on what worked and what didn’t work after each disasters can develop the adaptive capacities needed to manage ever increasing and unexpected risks. Preparedness is an incremental and interactive process.

These lessons from the GEJE on the importance of BCPs and pre-arranged agreements both emphasize larger principles that can be brought to bear in the context of emergent climate and public health crises. Both involve planning for the potential of disaster before it strikes. BCPs and pre-arranged agreements are both made under blue-sky conditions, which allow frameworks to be put in place for advanced mitigation and preparedness, and rapid post-disaster response and recovery. While it is impossible to know exactly what future crises a locale will face, these processes often have benefits that make places and organizations better able to act in the face of unlikely or unpredicted events. The lessons above regarding BCPs and pre-arranged agreements also highlight that neither the government nor the private sector alone have all the tools to prepare for and respond to disasters. Rather, the GEJE shows the importance of both public and private organizations adopting BCPs, and the value of creating pre-arranged agreements among and across public and private groups. By making disaster preparedness a key consideration for all organizations, and bringing diverse stakeholders together to make plans for when a crisis strikes, these strengthened networks and planning capacities have the potential to bear benefits not only in an emergency but in the everyday operations of organizations and countries.

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Additional Resources

Program Overview

  • Japan-World Bank Program on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries

Reports and Case Studies Featuring Lessons from GEJE

  • Learning from Megadisasters: Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake  (PDF)
  • Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity  (PDF)
  • Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services: The Case of Japan  (PDF)
  • Japan Case Study Report on Road Geohazard Risk Management  (PDF)
  • Resilient Infrastructure PPPs  (PDF)
  • Making Schools Resilient at Scale  (PDF)
  • Converting Disaster Experience into a Safer Built Environment: The Case of Japan  (PDF)
  • Resilient Cultural Heritage: Learning from the Japanese Experience  (PDF)
  • Information and Communication Technology for Disaster Risk Management in Japan
  • Resilient Industries in Japan : Lessons Learned in Japan on Enhancing Competitiveness in the Face of Disasters by Natural Hazards (PDF)
  • Preparedness Maps for Community Resilience: Earthquakes. Experience from Japan  (PDF)
  • Elders Leading the Way to Resilience  (PDF)
  • Ibasho: Strengthening community-driven preparedness and resilience in Philippines and Nepal by leveraging Japanese expertise and experience  (PDF)
  • Learning from Disaster Simulation Drills in Japan  (PDF)
  • Catastrophe Insurance Programs for Public Assets  (PDF)
  • PPP contract clauses unveiled: the World Bank’s 2017 Guidance on PPP Contractual Provisions
  • Learning from Japan: PPPs for infrastructure resilience

Audiovisual Resources on GEJE and its Reconstruction Processes in English

  • NHK documentary: 3/11-The Tsunami: The First 3 Days
  • NHK: 342 Stories of Resilience and Remembrance
  • Densho Road 3.11: Journey to Experience the Lessons from the Disaster - Tohoku, Japan
  • Sendai City: Disaster-Resilient and Environmentally-Friendly City
  • Sendai City: Eastern Coastal Area Today, 2019 Fall

[i]   Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services  report, p.63

[ii]   Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services  report, p.63

[iii]   Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services  report, p.8

[iv]   Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services  report, p.71

[v]   Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services  report, p.63

[vi]   Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity  report, p.115

[vii] Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity  report, p.133

[viii]   Japan Case Study Report on Road Geohazard Risk Management  report, p.30

[ix]   Resilient Infrastructure PPPs  report, p.8-9

[x]   Resilient Infrastructure PPPs  report, p.39-40

[xi]   Resilient Industries in Japan  report, p.153.

[xii]   Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity  report, p. 132

[xiii]   Making Schools Resilient at Scale  report, p.24

[xiv]   Resilient Cultural Heritage  report, p.62

[xv]   Learning from Megadisasters  report, p.326

[xvi]   Resilient Cultural Heritage  report, p.69

[xvii]   Learning from Megadisasters  report, p.100

[xviii] Learning from Megadisasters  report, p.297.

[xix]  J-ALERT, Japan’s nationwide early warning system, had 46% implementation at GEJE, and in communities where it was implemented earthquake early warnings were successfully received. Following GEJE, GOJ invested heavily in J-ALERT adoption (JPY 14B), bearing 50% of implementation costs. In 2013 GOJ spent JPY 773M to implement J-ALERT in municipalities that could not afford the expense. In 2014 MIC heavily promoted the L-ALERT system (formerly “Public Information Commons”), achieving 100% adoption across municipalities. Since GEJE, Japan has updated the EEWS to include a hybrid method of earthquake prediction, improving the accuracy of predictions and warnings.

[xx]  Related resources: NHK, “#1 TSUNAMI BOSAI: Science that Can Save Your Life”  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/ondemand/video/3004665/  ; NHK “BOSAI: Be Prepared - Hazard Maps”  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/ondemand/video/2084002/

[xxi]  Aldrich, Daniel P., and Yasuyuki Sawada. "The physical and social determinants of mortality in the 3.11 tsunami." Social Science & Medicine 124 (2015): 66-75.

[xxii]   Learning from Disaster Simulation Drills in Japan  Report, p. 14

[xxiii]  Matsushita and Hideshima. 2014. “Influence over Financial Statement of Listed Manufacturing Companies by the GEJE, the Effect of BCP and Risk Financing.” [In Japanese.] Journal of Japan Society of Civil Engineering 70 (1): 33–43.  https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jscejsp/70/1/70_33/_pdf/-char/ja .

[xxiv]   Resilient Industries in Japan  report, p. 56

[xxv]  MIC (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications). 2019. “Survey Results of Business Continuity Plan Development Status in Local Governments.” [In Japanese.] Press release, MIC, Tokyo.  https://www.fdma.go.jp/pressrelease/houdou/items/011226bcphoudou.pdf .

[xxvi]   Japan Case Study Report on Road Geohazard Risk Management  report, p.17.

[xxvii]  The World Bank. 2021. “Financial Protection of Critical Infrastructure Services.” Technical Report – Contribution to 2020 APEC Finance Ministers Meeting.

[xxviii]   Resilient Industries in Japan  report, p. 119

[xxix]  Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc. 2019. “The Role of Insurance Industry to Strengthen Resilience of Infrastructure—Experience in Japan.” APEC seminar on Disaster Risk Finance.

[xxx]  TDB (Teikoku DataBank). 2018. “Trends in Bankruptcies 6 Years after the Great East Japan Earthquake.” [In Japanese.] TDB, Tokyo.  https://www.tdb.co.jp/report/watching/press/pdf/p170301.pdf .

[xxxi]  Matsushita and Hideshima. 2014. “Influence over Financial Statement of Listed Manufacturing Companies by the GEJE, the Effect of BCP and Risk Financing.” [In Japanese.] Journal of Japan Society of Civil Engineering 70 (1): 33–43.  https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jscejsp/70/1/70_33/_pdf/-char/ja .

[xxxii]   Resilient Industries in Japan  report, p. 145

The Parkfield, California, Earthquake Experiment

September 28, 2004— m 6.0 earthquake captured.

The Parkfield Experiment is a comprehensive, long-term earthquake research project on the San Andreas fault. Led by the USGS and the State of California, the experiment's purpose is to better understand the physics of earthquakes - what actually happens on the fault and in the surrounding region before, during and after an earthquake. Ultimately, scientists hope to better understand the earthquake process and, if possible, to provide a scientific basis for earthquake prediction. Since its inception in 1985, the experiment has involved more than 100 researchers at the USGS and collaborating universities and government laboratories. Their coordinated efforts have led to a dense network of instruments poised to "capture" the anticipated earthquake and reveal the earthquake process in unprecedented detail.

Moderate-size earthquakes of about magnitude 6 have occurred on the Parkfield section of the San Andreas fault at fairly regular intervals - in 1857, 1881, 1901, 1922, 1934, and 1966. The first, in 1857, was a foreshock to the great Fort Tejon earthquake which ruptured the fault from Parkfield to the southeast for over 180 miles. Available data suggest that all six moderate-sized Parkfield earthquakes may have been "characteristic" in the sense that they all ruptured the same area on the fault. If such characteristic ruptures occur regularly, then the next quake would have been due before 1993.

These pages describe the scientific background for the experiment, including the tectonic setting at Parkfield, the historical earthquake activity on this section of the San Andreas fault, the monitoring and data collecting activities currently being carried out, and plans for future research. Data are available to view in real-time and download.

Scientific Advances

While the greatest scientific payoff is expected when the earthquake occurs, our understanding of the earthquake process has already been advanced through research results from Parkfield. Some of the highlights are described.

Real-time data from instrumentation networks running at Parkfield are available for viewing and downloading.

Parkfield Earthquake Shake Table Exhibit

The Art-Science of Earthquakes by D.V. Rogers November 23, 2009 ( video )

The exhibit was a geologically interactive, seismic machine earthwork temporarily installed in Parkfield in 2008. Rogers presented the history, conceptual premise, documentation of the work, and also put forward the idea of how early 21st century cultural practice could be used to encourage earthquake awareness and preparedness.

Pictures and interactive, 360-degree panorama .

Lessons From the Best-Recorded Quake in History

USGS Public Lecture by Andy Michael October 26, 2006 ( video )

New data from the 2004 Parkfield earthquake provide important lessons about earthquake processes, prediction, and the hazards assessments that underlie building codes and mitigation policies.

Map of California showing location of Parkfield

Research Scientist: John Langbein , Earthquake Science Center.

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  • 06 February 2023
  • Update 07 February 2023
  • Update 09 February 2023

Turkey–Syria earthquake: what scientists know

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A magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria in the early hours of the morning of 6 February. At least 17,000 people are known to have lost their lives, with thousands more injured. The quake was followed by a magnitude-7.5 event some 9 hours later, as well as more than 200 aftershocks.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-00364-y

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Update 07 February 2023 : This story has been updated with the latest death toll.

Update 09 February 2023 : This story has been updated again with the latest death toll at the time of publishing.

Kelam, A. A. et al. Soil Dyn. Earthq. Eng. 154 , 107129 (2022).

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Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability

The science behind earthquakes

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts on where and how earthquakes happen, why prediction remains elusive, advances in detection and monitoring, links to human activities, how to prepare for "The Big One," and more.

Earthquake concept

The ground beneath our feet is always in motion. In an earthquake, it can roll, shudder and crack as rocky puzzle pieces in Earth’s outer layer lurch past one another. Forces that accumulate miles underground over centuries or longer can deliver a catastrophic burst of energy in a matter of seconds.

Most quakes are small. As many as 500,000 detectable earthquakes occur each year. Nearly 100,000 of them are strong enough to be felt, and only about 100 cause damage. They usually occur in the upper 10 miles or so of the Earth’s crust, and they’re concentrated along the boundaries where tectonic plates meet.

Over the past two decades, however, earthquakes have caused more than half of all deaths related to natural disasters. In any given quake, the extent of harm depends heavily on the population density and building designs in the place where it strikes. And worldwide, the human cost of these events falls overwhelmingly on the poor. One study found that even when property damages are roughly equal, measures of well-being decline more steeply in cities that have lower-income population and lower household savings. In another study, which followed children whose mothers experienced a major earthquake during pregnancy, researchers showed that exposure to this kind of acute stress in utero can have negative effects years later among children in poor households.

Although predicting when a particular fault will unleash a quake remains out of reach, scientists have uncovered much of how, where and why earthquakes occur. This collection covers how scientists are deciphering the physics of earthquakes, developing technology to study them, discovering how quakes evolve and more. 

Scroll down for earthquake research news and insights related to detection and monitoring ,  how earthquakes happen ,  human dimensions including strategies for resilience and connections to energy development, and  prediction and preparedness .

Last updated: October 26, 2020

Detection and monitoring

How earthquakes happen | Human dimensions | Prediction and preparedness | Back to top

AI detects hidden earthquakes

Tottori skyline

Tiny movements in Earth’s outermost layer may provide a Rosetta Stone for deciphering the physics and warning signs of big quakes. New algorithms that work a little like human vision are now detecting these long-hidden microquakes in the growing mountain of seismic data.

What can machine learning tell us about the solid Earth?

Kilauea ash

Scientists are training machine learning algorithms to help shed light on earthquake hazards, volcanic eruptions, groundwater flow and longstanding mysteries about what goes on beneath the Earth’s surface.

Small quakes at fracking sites may warn of bigger tremors to come

case study on earthquake wikipedia

Stanford geoscientists have devised a new algorithm for detecting thousands of faint, previously missed earthquakes triggered by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Building a ‘billion sensors’ earthquake observatory with optical fibers

Fiber optic cable.

Stanford geophysicist Biondo Biondi dreams of turning existing networks of buried optical fibers into an inexpensive “billion sensors” observatory for continuously monitoring and studying earthquakes

Harnessing fiber-optic networks to map earthquake trouble spots

case study on earthquake wikipedia

A study provides new evidence that the same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day provide an inexpensive observatory for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

'Shazam for earthquakes'

seismic graph

An algorithm inspired by the song-matching app is helping Stanford scientists find previously overlooked earthquakes in large databases of ground motion measurements.

How earthquakes happen

Detection and monitoring | Human dimensions | Prediction and preparedness | Back to top

Seismic map of North America reveals earthquake hazards

Deteriorated road

New research provides the first quantitative synthesis of faulting across the entire continent, as well as hundreds of measurements of the direction from which the greatest pressure occurs in the Earth’s crust.

2015 Nepal earthquake offers clues about hazards

Group sitting on a hillside

Stanford geophysicist Simon Klemperer discusses how the 2015 Gorkha earthquake that shook Kathmandu in central Nepal gave researchers new information about where, why and how earthquakes occur

How earthquake swarms arise

Cracked road

A new fault simulator maps out how interactions between pressure, friction and fluids rising through a fault zone can lead to slow-motion quakes and seismic swarms

Researchers explain earthquakes we can't feel

Olympic National Park

Scientists have explained mysterious slow-moving earthquakes known as slow slip events with the help of computer simulations. The answer, they learned, is in rocks’ pores

Deadly earthquake traveled at 'supersonic' speeds

Sulawesi earthquake damage

An earthquake in Indonesia that cracked through the Earth at nearly 9,200 miles an hour offered a detailed look at supershear, which can create the geologic version of a sonic boom. Stanford geophysicist Eric Dunham told National Geographic the event could help researchers understand where and how super-fast quakes can happen.

How two big quakes triggered 16,000 more in Southern California

Ridgecrest quake

“We’d like to think we know about all of the faults of that size and their prehistory, but here we missed it,” Ross Stein, an adjunct professor in geophysics at Stanford, told The New York Times . 

Feature | Stanford geophysicist visits Loma Prieta epicenter

Human dimensions.

Detection and monitoring | How earthquakes happen | Prediction and preparedness | Back to top

Cities built to endure disaster

Resilient city

There are technologies available that could move us toward stronger, safer buildings, but a lack of political and economic will is holding us back. Stanford civil engineer Anne Kiremidjian says a culture of resilience can help cities bounce back from disaster stronger than ever.

The inequalities of prenatal stress

Mother and baby

A study found that economically disadvantaged children prenatally exposed to an environmental stressor had much lower cognitive abilities than their counterparts who didn’t experience the stress. No effect was found among children in upper- or middle-class families. The study used a strong earthquake in Chile to explore the impacts.

Lessons from the disaster zone


A Stanford doctor discusses his experience providing emergency medical response to earthquakes in Nepal and Haiti, and explains what leaders should know before the next natural disaster strikes.

A more holistic way to measure the economic fallout from earthquakes

Collapsed floors of a building

Officials know how to account for deaths, injuries and property damages after the shaking stops, but a new study describes the first way to estimate the far greater financial fallout that such a disaster would have, especially on the poor.

Quakes caused by humans, nature are not so different after all

earthquake illustration

Research shows that human-induced and naturally occurring earthquakes in the central U.S. share the same shaking potential and can thus cause similar damage.

Solving geothermal energy's earthquake problem


A geothermal energy project triggered a damaging earthquake in 2017 in South Korea. A new analysis suggests flaws in some of the most common ways of trying to minimize the risk of such quakes when harnessing the Earth’s heat for energy.

Seismic upheaval through history

In the course of his research for a book about the collapse of civilizations following earthquake storms – devastating sequences of seismic upheaval – Stanford geophysicist Amos Nur found that historians often overlook ancient earthquakes because written documentation of their occurrence is rare.

“Yet the physical ruins left behind these events testify to the presence of catastrophic forces lurking in the landscape,” Wired reported. “Nur’s unsettling conclusion is that earthquake damage throughout human history has been substantially underestimated.”

Read the full story: " Move over, San Andreas: There's an ominous new fault in town ."

Prediction and preparedness

Detection and monitoring | How earthquakes happen | Human dimensions | Back to top

Data helps us prepare for 'The Big One'


Data is reshaping our knowledge about many things, including earthquakes: how we measure them, what causes them and how we can better prepare for them.

Understanding aftershock risk


Geophysicist Gregory Beroza discusses the culprits behind destructive aftershocks and why scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence to gain new insights into earthquake risks.

Study casts doubt on predictive value of earthquake foreschocks

Cracked Earth

A study suggests foreshocks are just like other small quakes, not helpful warning signs as previously thought.

A new technique predicts how earthquakes would affect a city's hospitals


A Stanford-led research team is helping disaster response officials figure out where injuries are likeliest to occur, so survivors can get to the hospitals best able to treat them.

A risk assessment of San Francisco's fire-fighting water system


​After the 1906 quake the city built a water network dedicated to fire-fighting. A computer model suggests the best strategy to strengthen this system for another century.

How will San Francisco's skyscrapers fare after the next Big One?

San Francisco

Stanford civil engineers are working with the city to assess high-rise safety and mitigate any disruption, downtime or lost economic activity should downtown buildings be damaged.

Research | Stanford scientists use ‘virtual earthquakes' to forecast Los Angeles quake risk

End concept

We know where the next big quakes will happen – but not when

Can pets predict earthquakes? Could climate change have a small effect on quakes? Why is the Richter scale falling out of fashion for measuring earthquakes? Stanford Earth professor Greg Beroza and Marine Denolle , Geophysics PhD ‘14, explain earthquakes and some of the latest science on measuring and predicting them. Read more at Vox .

Another dead end for earthquake prediction

Scientists have long held out hope that major earthquakes might be predictable from  the smaller tremors that often occur right before a major quake. But a study of a 1999 quake near Izmit, Turkey shows no connection. “We found that the foreshocks – the earthquakes that preceded it – were no different than ordinary earthquakes,” geophysicist William Ellsworth told KQED .

Reflecting on the Loma Prieta earthquake

On the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, experts shared their perspectives on how the event impacted them and the Bay Area, and transformed earthquake science.

“As soon as it had stopped, I went down the hall to an old analog phone – all the others were computer phones and dead – to call Dr. Rob Wesson, PhD ’70, who was the head of the earthquake office at the USGS,” said geophysics professor  William Ellsworth , who was working as a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in his Menlo Park office at the time of the quake. “He was excited to hear me and wanted to talk baseball, at least until I told him that we had just experienced a major earthquake and our lives would be different from now on. How true that proved to be.”

Media Contacts

Josie Garthwaite School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (650)497-0947;  [email protected]

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Internet Geography

Lombok Indonesia Earthquake 2018 Case Study

The causes, effects, and responses to the Lombok earthquake

Lombok is one of the 17508 islands that make up Indonesia. The island is approximately 4,500 sq km (1,700 sq miles) and is located to the east of Bali and west of Sumbawa part of the Lesser Sunda Island chain. It’s known for beaches and surfing spots, particularly at Kuta and Banko Banko (in south Lombok).

In the first in the series, on 29 July, a 6.4 magnitude quake triggered landslides in the mountain region of the island and killed at least 16 people. Following this a shallow, magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Lombok and Bali on August 5th, 2018, killing over 555 people, injuring 1300 and leaving at least 353000 homeless.  The most severe damage was in North Lombok close to the epicentre.

Location of the August 5th 2018 Lombok earthquake

Location of the August 5th 2018 Lombok earthquake

The main quake struck at 19:46 local time (11:46 GMT) on Sunday, August 5th at a fairly shallow depth of 31km (19 miles).

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia because it lies on the Ring of Fire – the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific Rim.

More than half of the world’s active volcanoes above sea level are part of the ring.

The recent earthquakes have occurred along a specific zone where the Australian tectonic plate meets the Indonesian island plate, Sunda.

Tectonic plates are slabs of the Earth’s crust that move very slowly over our planet’s surface. Indonesia sits along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” where several tectonic plates collide and many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

The Earth's tectonic plates

The Earth’s tectonic plates

Some of these earthquakes are very large, such as the magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra that generated the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami . This earthquake occurred along the Java-Sumatra subduction zone , where the Australian tectonic plate moves underneath Indonesia’s Sunda plate.

Both earthquakes occurred along faults in an area where tectonic plates are colliding, with one diving beneath the other.

The Sunda Plate

The Sunda Plate

In this area, there’s subduction, so the Australian plate is moving under the Sunda plate, and the Australian plate is moving to the north underneath the Sunda plate.

The earthquake destroyed tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok on August 5 2018. More than 1,300 people were injured and nearly 353,000 have been internally displaced.

It is estimated that 80% of the region had been damaged by the earthquake. Lombok suffered more than 5 trillion rupiah ($342 million; £268 million) in damage following the 5 August earthquake, authorities said.

Hundreds of tourists were stranded on the island and hotels were filled to capacity.  No tourists were reported killed, but the earthquake was felt as far away as the neighbouring island of Bali, where two people died.  The quake was followed by more than a dozen aftershocks, with one registering magnitude 5.4 on the Richter Scale.

According to scientists from NASA and the California Institute of Technology’s rapid-imaging project, the earthquake lifted the island as much as 25 centimetres in some areas. In other places, the ground dropped five-15cm.

Emergency teams in East and North Lombok reported that in some villages 75% of homes were damaged.

More than 500 hikers, most of whom were foreigners, were stranded on Indonesia’s Mt Rinjani when a deadly quake triggered landslides. The earthquake triggered landslides around Mount Rinjani, cutting off escape routes. The volcano , which rises 3,726m (12,224ft) above sea level and is the second-highest one in Indonesia, is a favourite among sightseers.

The region was hit by more than 350 aftershocks. Some measured up to 6.2 on the Richter Scale and brought down some buildings.

The area around Mount Rinjani increasingly relies on tourism , the earthquake and aftershocks led to the closure of mountain to hikers leading to many hotel cancellations by international tourists.

Hundreds of British citizens and European citizens were stuck in Lombok airport before flights could resume.

Aftershocks killed at least a further 13 people as the region recovered from the main event.

The Indonesia Government declared a three-week long state of emergency. “The most important thing is the emergency response, after that rehabilitation and reconstruction,” said Indonesia’s second-in-command, Vice President Jusuf Kalla. The government mobilised the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and the national military, directly deploying personnel in response to the earthquake.

Two helicopters were deployed to assist in emergency operations and the military sent troops and medical personnel, as well as medical supplies and communications equipment. Five planes carrying food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers left the capital, Jakarta, for the island early on Wednesday 8th August.

Supplies for those made homeless were distributed with about 30,000 tents and 100 wheelchairs sent to affected areas.

As hospitals and clinics were affected by the earthquake many of the injured were treated in the open air or in makeshift clinics.

Rescue efforts were hampered by power outages, a lack of phone reception in some areas and limited evacuation options. A lack of heavy lifting equipment also affected the relief effort, with some rescuers forced to dig by hand. Other obstacles in the mountainous north and east of Lombok included collapsed bridges and electricity and communication blackouts. Debris blocked damaged roads.

In Sembalun the community pulled together to repair damaged buildings, including the town’s only health clinic. Electricity and clean water had to be being restored to villages in Sambalia that were cut off.

Emergency workers gradually reached more remote areas of Lombok having focussed their initial efforts in urban areas.

More than 500 hikers who were stranded on a mountain on the Indonesian island of Lombok after the earthquake were safely evacuated. Most of the hikers and guides were able to walk down after a safe route was found for them but some were flown out by helicopter.

The UK Foreign Office worked with the Indonesian authorities to provide assistance to British people caught up in the earthquake. Extra flights were added to help people who want to leave Lombok. Airport authorities requested that additional flights be added on Monday 6th August 2018 , to accommodate the influx of tourists trying to leave the island.

Charity, Plan International, provided counselling for children and supported those who were unable to go to school, by distributing emergency school kits and helping teachers continue educating while schools remain closed. The charity also provided humanitarian assistance to 2,500 families in six villages in Lombok. The organisation dispatched 500 emergency shelter kits, containing 1,000 tarpaulins, 1,000 sleeping mats and 2,000 blankets.

The Salvation Army in Indonesia also provided medical and other assistance to people who were affected by the earthquake on Lombok. The team immediately distributed a small supply of rice, noodles, sugar and bottled water to the affected population.

The Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia) disaster responders provided first aid and assessed immediate needs in remote villages, arranging for bottled water and rice to be delivered by motorbike.

British-based charity Oxfam said it was providing clean drinking water and tarpaulin shelter sheets to 5,000 people and planned to intensify aid delivery.

A French military transport plane delivered 25 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the earthquake-hit island of Lombok on behalf of the Indonesian government.

On the 14th August 2018, The EU announced a further €500 000 to step up its emergency response to meet the most pressing needs of those affected by the devastating earthquakes that struck the Indonesian island of Lombok in late July and early August. The allocation came in addition to the initial €150 000 delivered earlier in August, thus bringing the EU’s contribution to €650 000. The EU humanitarian funding complemented the Indonesian government response and focussed on the most vulnerable groups and communities in the affected area. The EU aid supported the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in providing relief assistance and protection to the most vulnerable among the affected population. It is estimated that the aid directly benefited 80 000 vulnerable people in some of the worst hit localities in the northeast and west Lombok districts. The aid was also used to assist the IFRC in reuniting families that were separated by the earthquakes. Aid was also offered by other countries including Australia.

Allegedly, authorities on Lombok were demanding money from tourists before they would let them onto rescue boats. However, around 5000 tourists who wanted to be evacuated from three outlying holiday islands had left by boat.

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Bhuj Earthquake India 2001 – A Complete Study

Bhuj earthquake india.

Bhuj Earthquake India - Aerial View

Gujarat : Disaster on a day of celebration : 51st Republic Day on January 26, 2001

  • 7.9 on the Richter scale.
  • 8.46 AM January 26th 2001
  • 20,800 dead

Basic Facts

  • Earthquake: 8:46am on January 26, 2001
  • Epicenter: Near Bhuj in Gujarat, India
  • Magnitude: 7.9 on the Richter Scale

Geologic Setting

  • Indian Plate Sub ducting beneath Eurasian Plate
  • Continental Drift
  • Convergent Boundary

Specifics of 2001 Quake

Compression Stress between region’s faults

Depth: 16km

Probable Fault: Kachchh Mainland

Fault Type: Reverse Dip-Slip (Thrust Fault)

The earthquake’s epicentre was 20km from Bhuj. A city with a population of 140,000 in 2001. The city is in the region known as the Kutch region. The effects of the earthquake were also felt on the north side of the Pakistan border, in Pakistan 18 people were killed.

Tectonic systems

The earthquake was caused at the convergent plate boundary between the Indian plate and the Eurasian plate boundary. These pushed together and caused the earthquake. However as Bhuj is in an intraplate zone, the earthquake was not expected, this is one of the reasons so many buildings were destroyed – because people did not build to earthquake resistant standards in an area earthquakes were not thought to occur. In addition the Gujarat earthquake is an excellent example of liquefaction, causing buildings to ‘sink’ into the ground which gains a consistency of a liquid due to the frequency of the earthquake.

India : Vulnerability to earthquakes

  • 56% of the total area of the Indian Republic is vulnerable to seismic activity .
  • 12% of the area comes under Zone V (A&N Islands, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, N.E.States, Uttaranchal)
  • 18% area in Zone IV (Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttaranchal, W. Bengal)
  • 26% area in Zone III (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, W. Bengal)
  • Gujarat: an advanced state on the west coast of India.
  • On 26 January 2001, an earthquake struck the Kutch district of Gujarat at 8.46 am.
  • Epicentre 20 km North East of Bhuj, the headquarter of Kutch.
  • The Indian Meteorological Department estimated the intensity of the earthquake at 6.9 Richter. According to the US Geological Survey, the intensity of the quake was 7.7 Richter.
  • The quake was the worst in India in the last 180 years.

What earthquakes do

  • Casualties: loss of life and injury.
  • Loss of housing.
  • Damage to infrastructure.
  • Disruption of transport and communications.
  • Breakdown of social order.
  • Loss of industrial output.
  • Loss of business.
  • Disruption of marketing systems.
  • The earthquake devastated Kutch. Practically all buildings and structures of Kutch were brought down.
  • Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Surendaranagar and Patan were heavily damaged.
  • Nearly 19,000 people died. Kutch alone reported more than 17,000 deaths.
  • 1.66 lakh people were injured. Most were handicapped for the rest of their lives.
  • The dead included 7,065 children (0-14 years) and 9,110 women.
  • There were 348 orphans and 826 widows.

Loss classification

Deaths and injuries: demographics and labour markets

Effects on assets and GDP

Effects on fiscal accounts

Financial markets

Disaster loss

  • Initial estimate Rs. 200 billion.
  • Came down to Rs. 144 billion.
  • No inventory of buildings
  • Non-engineered buildings
  • Land and buildings
  • Stocks and flows
  • Reconstruction costs (Rs. 106 billion) and loss estimates (Rs. 99 billion) are different
  • Public good considerations

Human Impact: Tertiary effects

  • Affected 15.9 million people out of 37.8 in the region (in areas such as Bhuj, Bhachau, Anjar, Ganhidham, Rapar)
  • High demand for food, water, and medical care for survivors
  • Humanitarian intervention by groups such as Oxfam: focused on Immediate response and then rehabilitation
  • Of survivors, many require persistent medical attention
  • Region continues to require assistance long after quake has subsided
  • International aid vital to recovery

Social Impacts

Social Impacts

  • 80% of water and food sources were destroyed.
  • The obvious social impacts are that around 20,000 people were killed and near 200,000 were injured.
  • However at the same time, looting and violence occurred following the quake, and this affected many people too.
  • On the other hand, the earthquake resulted in millions of USD in aid, which has since allowed the Bhuj region to rebuild itself and then grow in a way it wouldn’t have done otherwise.
  • The final major social effect was that around 400,000 Indian homes were destroyed resulting in around 2 million people being made homeless immediately following the quake.

Social security and insurance

  • Ex gratia payment: death relief and monetary benefits to the injured
  • Major and minor injuries
  •  Cash doles
  • Government insurance fund
  • Group insurance schemes
  • Claim ratio

Demographics and labour market

  • Geographic pattern of ground motion, spatial array of population and properties at risk, and their risk vulnerabilities.
  • Low population density was a saving grace.
  • Extra fatalities among women
  • Effect on dependency ratio
  • Farming and textiles

Economic Impacts

Economic  Impacts

  • Total damage estimated at around $7 billion. However $18 billion of aid was invested in the Bhuj area.
  • Over 15km of tarmac road networks were completely destroyed.
  • In the economic capital of the Gujarat region, Ahmedabad, 58 multi storey buildings were destroyed, these buildings contained many of the businesses which were generating the wealth of the region.
  • Many schools were destroyed and the literacy rate of the Gujarat region is now the lowest outside southern India.

Impact on GDP

  • Applying ICOR
  • Rs. 99 billion – deduct a third as loss of current value added.
  • Get GDP loss as Rs. 23 billion
  • Adjust for heterogeneous capital, excess capacity, loss Rs. 20 billion.
  • Reconstruction efforts.
  • Likely to have been Rs. 15 billion.

Fiscal accounts

  • Differentiate among different taxes: sales tax, stamp duties and registration fees, motor vehicle tax, electricity duty, entertainment tax, profession tax, state excise and other taxes. Shortfall of Rs. 9 billion of which about Rs. 6 billion unconnected with earthquake.
  • Earthquake related other flows.
  • Expenditure:Rs. 8 billion on relief. Rs. 87 billion on rehabilitation.

Impact on Revenue Continue Reading

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  1. Earthquake case study

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  1. Does Turkiye’s provinces haved a earthquake? || Source: Wikipedia

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  3. Desk That Can Save You From an Earthquake

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  6. Earthquake 🌍-9th std English- supplementary


  1. Earthquake

    Measurement Prediction Other topics Earth Sciences Portal Category Related topics v t e An earthquake - also called a quake, tremor, or temblor - is the shaking of the surface of Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the lithosphere that creates seismic waves.

  2. 2001 Gujarat earthquake

    Tectonic setting Gujarat lies 300-400 km from the plate boundary between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate, but the current tectonics are still governed by the effects of the continuing continental collision along this boundary. During the break-up of Gondwana in the Jurassic, this area was affected by rifting with a roughly west-east trend.

  3. Great Hanshin earthquake

    The Mj 7.3 earthquake struck at 05:46 JST on the morning of January 17, 1995. It lasted for 20 seconds. During this time the south side of the Nojima Fault moved 1.5 meters to the right and 1.2 meters downwards. There were four foreshocks, beginning with the largest (Mj 3.7) at 18:28 on the previous day. Intensity

  4. 2016 Kaikōura earthquake

    Tsunami The tsunami that followed the Kaikōura earthquake reached a peak height of about 7 metres. The tsunami was found to be highest at Goose Bay, with data indicating a maximum run-up height above tide level at the time of the tsunami of 6.9 m ± 0.3 m.

  5. April 2015 Nepal earthquake

    Coordinates: 28.230°N 84.731°E The April 2015 Nepal earthquake (also known as the Gorkha earthquake) [7] [11] killed 8,964 people and injured 21,952 more. It occurred at 11:56 Nepal Standard Time on Saturday 25 April 2015, with a magnitude of 7.8 M w [1] or 8.1 M s [12] and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of X ( Extreme ).

  6. Earthquake

    Feb. 18, 2024, 5:20 AM ET (ABC News (U.S.)) 4.7 magnitude earthquake outside of small Texas city among several recently in area Feb. 9, 2024, 8:18 PM ET (MSN) Philippines: Earthquake halts landslide rescue efforts Show More Top Questions Why is an earthquake dangerous? What are earthquake waves? How is earthquake magnitude measured?

  7. Turkey earthquake: Where did it hit and why was it so deadly?

    10 February 2023 By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent Getty Images Tens of thousands of people have been killed and scores more injured by a huge earthquake which struck south-eastern Turkey,...

  8. Effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on India

    Countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. According to official estimates in India, 10,749 people were killed, 5,640 people were missing and thousands of people became homeless when a tsunami triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake near the Indonesian island of Sumatra struck the southern coast on 26 December 2004. The earthquake registered 9.1-9.3 M w and was the largest ...

  9. Learning from Megadisasters: A Decade of Lessons from the Great East

    Introduction: The Triple Disaster, Response and Recovery. On March 11th, 2011 a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan, near the Tohoku region. The force of the earthquake sent a tsunami rushing towards the Tohoku coastline, a black wall of water which wiped away entire towns and villages.

  10. 1923 Great Kantō earthquake

    At 11.55 a.m. ship commenced to tremble and vibrate violently and on looking towards the shore it was seen that a terrible earthquake was taking place, buildings were collapsing in all directions and in a few minutes nothing could be seen for clouds of dust.

  11. The Parkfield, California, Earthquake Experiment

    Hypothesis Moderate-size earthquakes of about magnitude 6 have occurred on the Parkfield section of the San Andreas fault at fairly regular intervals - in 1857, 1881, 1901, 1922, 1934, and 1966. The first, in 1857, was a foreshock to the great Fort Tejon earthquake which ruptured the fault from Parkfield to the southeast for over 180 miles.

  12. Case Study

    Economic Loss: Estimated at over $235 billion. Displacement: Around 340,000 people were displaced from their homes. Damage: The tsunami destroyed or damaged 332,395 buildings, 2,126 roads, 56 bridges, and 26 railways. Three hundred hospitals were damaged, and 11 were destroyed. Environmental Damage: Coastal ecosystems were heavily impacted.

  13. Sichuan earthquake of 2008

    Sichuan earthquake of 2008, massive and enormously devastating earthquake that occurred in the mountainous central region of Sichuan province in southwestern China on May 12, 2008.

  14. Earthquake doublet in Turkey and Syria

    53 Citations 124 Altmetric Metrics The human tragedy caused by the earthquake doublet on 6 February 2023 in Turkey and Syria is difficult to comprehend. While earthquake scientists are trying...

  15. Turkey-Syria earthquake: what scientists know

    A magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria in the early hours of the morning of 6 February. At least 17,000 people are known to have lost their lives, with thousands ...

  16. The science behind earthquakes

    By. Stanford Earth Staff. The ground beneath our feet is always in motion. In an earthquake, it can roll, shudder and crack as rocky puzzle pieces in Earth's outer layer lurch past one another. Forces that accumulate miles underground over centuries or longer can deliver a catastrophic burst of energy in a matter of seconds. Most quakes are ...

  17. Bhuj earthquake of 2001

    The earthquake struck near the town of Bhuj on the morning of India's annual Republic Day (celebrating the creation of the Republic of India in 1950), and it was felt throughout much of northwestern India and parts of Pakistan.The moment magnitude of the quake was 7.7 (6.9 on the Richter scale).In addition to killing more than 20,000 people and injuring more than 150,000 others, the quake ...

  18. Lombok Indonesia Earthquake 2018 Case Study

    More than 1,300 people were injured and nearly 353,000 have been internally displaced. It is estimated that 80% of the region had been damaged by the earthquake. Lombok suffered more than 5 trillion rupiah ($342 million; £268 million) in damage following the 5 August earthquake, authorities said.

  19. Earthquakes and tsunami

    The earthquake struck the city of Christchurch in New Zealand on 22 February 2011. It was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and the focus was very shallow at 4.99 kilometres deep.

  20. Environmental hazards Case study: Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004

    A very common case study for earthquakes is the South-East Asian tsunami of 2004. Other case studies include Mexico 1985, San Francisco 1989, Kobe 1995 and Pakistan 2005. This video can not be played

  21. Bhuj Earthquake India 2001

    Basic Facts Earthquake: 8:46am on January 26, 2001 Epicenter: Near Bhuj in Gujarat, India Magnitude: 7.9 on the Richter Scale Geologic Setting Indian Plate Sub ducting beneath Eurasian Plate Continental Drift Convergent Boundary Specifics of 2001 Quake Compression Stress between region's faults Depth: 16km Probable Fault: Kachchh Mainland

  22. Developing an earthquake damaged-based multi-severity ...

    As a case study, the proposed method was applied to the Mosha fault seismic scenario (7.4 Mw) in Tehran, Iran. The results indicated that 200,300 people may lose their lives in that seismic scenario. Additionally, the number of injuries with severity 1 and severity 2 are estimated to be about 420,600 and 232,980, respectively.

  23. Spatial variability of shear wave velocity: implications for the

    Assessing the potential and extent of earthquake-induced liquefaction is paramount for seismic hazard assessment, for the large ground deformations it causes can result in severe damage to infrastructure and pose a threat to human lives, as evidenced by many contemporary and historical case studies in various tectonic settings. In that regard, numerical modeling of case studies, using state-of ...

  24. Case Study On Earthquake Wikipedia

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  25. Trump's Cash Crunch

    The ruling in former President Donald J. Trump's civil fraud case could cost him all his available cash. Feb. 23, 2024. Share full article. Hosted by Michael Barbaro.