March 11th 2011
An earthquake east of Japan in March 2011 was one of the most powerful in recorded history.
The magnitude 9 quake caused a range of devastating effects, and a huge number of lives, homes and businesses were lost.
Yet as an MEDC, or more economically developed country, Japan was relatively well equipped to respond to the disaster.
An earthquake's primary effects are those directly caused by the movement of the ground.
These may involve damage to the natural environment, such as these step-like features called fault scarps.
Human constructions are vulnerable too, with buildings and communication links all liable to be damaged or destroyed.
As an MEDC, Japan's infrastructure and buildings are designed to resist earthquakes.
And its emergency services are well resourced.
And because the earthquake's epicentre was many kilometres offshore, the primary effects of Japan's quake were slightly diminished.
But earthquakes also produce secondary effects, with huge impacts on both the natural landscape and built environments.
Japan experienced a critical secondary effect: the earthquake caused a tsunami.
This deadly surge of water was a huge destructive force, devastating vast areas of Japan's eastern coast.
Entire towns were destroyed and a nuclear emergency was triggered.
Immediately after an earthquake, short-term responses occur.
Despite the chaos, Japan utilised established emergency and evacuation procedures.
While its military, and modern equipment, helped the rescue efforts.
This infrastructure and capacity to respond is largely unique to MEDCs.
Following an earthquake's immediate impact, long-term responses, including aid donations, continue the recovery process.
Japan's relative wealth allowed it to deliver much-needed resources to affected areas.
And, like other at-risk nations, its ability to invest in earthquake-monitoring technology should prepare Japan for future events.
However, no amount of preparation by Japan would have prevented the devastation caused by the scale of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed.