Ed Driscoll

Magnitude 9.1?

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports,”Tsunami warning center raises magnitude of Japan quake to 9.1:”

The Japan earthquake was the fourth most powerful ever recorded with a magnitude of 9.1, twice more powerful than the initial estimate of 8.9, Gerard Fryer, geophysicist of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said this morning.

Three others that were more powerful since the late 1800s when seismometers started measuring ground motions were in 9.5 in Chile in 1960, 9.2 in Alaska in 1964 and 9.1 in Sumatra in 2004, according to Fryer.

The paper adds that “The U.S. Geological Survey estimate of the quake’s magnitude is still 8.9,” though.

Japan has spent a billion dollars to allow for people living areas outside of an earthquake’s epicenter to have approximately 60 seconds of early warning time; just enough to shut off the gas — and duck and cover. This chilling video of one such warning going off on television is eerily reminiscent of Cold War-era American civil defense alerts,  or with the robotic calm female onscreen voice doing the doomsday countdown, the destruct sequence in a science fiction movie:

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Note that the above clip, as with so many we’ve been seeing since Thursday night were shot by amateurs; as Richard Fernandez writes at the Belmont Club, expect that to be the norm going forward, as the number of camcorder-armed citizens (especially in Japan, of course) now far outweighs professional news-gatherers.