Last month, our science communication intern, Laura, went on a trip to Japan to study geological hazards. Read on to hear about what she got up to…
In early September, I went to Japan for a Science Communication fieldtrip with the University of Tokyo’s Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute (AORI). The focus of the trip was to investigate impact of geological hazards on Japan and how these can be communicated to the broader community.
Our first week was spent mostly travelling down the east coast of Japan where we learned about the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis. This included visiting areas that had been affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The entire town of Arahama was completely wiped out during the tsunami, leaving only the school. Inside, you can still see the awful destruction that had been created. The pictures below were taken on our visit to Arahama Elementary School.
In our second week, we traveled west from Tokyo to study Mount Fuji and the surrounding region. Here, we visited the Fujitsu Laboratories to explore tsunami mitigation technology. It was fascinating to learn about how super computers are being used to simulate possible earthquake and tsunami scenarios and to calculate the risk involved with each. They could even factor in how buildings affected the movement of humans trying to access evacuation points.
From our other discussions, drones are also being considered as an important piece of technology to use in various areas of disaster recovery. Drones can be quickly deployed to search for survivors and deliver rescue supplies in areas where it is too dangerous to send human rescuers. Drones can also assist engineers in assessing the damage caused to infrastructure.
For me, the highlight of the trip was being able to hike Mt Hoei. Located on the south-eastern side of Mt Fuji, Mt Hoei emerged as the result of Mt Fuji’s eruption in 1707-1708. The loose gravel made it a challenging climb as you would slip back every time you stepped forward (very frustrating!). But the struggle was worth it once we reached the top and WOW – what a sight! At 2693 metres above sea level, we were literally sitting among the clouds enjoying our bento lunch boxes. Talk about being on cloud nine!
The trip was such an incredibly rewarding experience as it not only allowed me to understand geological hazards from a scientific perspective, but through the eyes of those who had been impacted by such events.