The Complex And Dangerous Geology of Fukushima

I have been kept busy going to doctors today, getting ready for surgery in ten days, so I came home finally, tonight, to write about Fukushima, yet again.  This event in Japan is a watershed moment for humanity.  Shall we endure a warmer climate or surround ourselves with thousands of nuclear power plants?  This is a pressing question which has one strong answer: no way in hell will we fix anything via nuclear power!  It is hopelessly dangerous and once it gets out of strict controls, it is amazingly destructive and hard to deal with, as we see in Japan, a first world nation, not a floundering communist state in collapse.  But then, Japan is a mercantile capitalist state going into collapse even before the Great Tohoku Earthquake.


One paper covering the nuclear mess very well is the Mainichi Daily news:  News Navigator: How much time and money are needed to dispose of the Fukushima reactors?  which is a most pressing question.  Since no one has the faintest idea, how to undo this disaster, the cost of doing anything is as open ended as it can possibly be with ‘infinity’ a probably answer.  In other words, it will be hopelessly impossible to fund any fixes at all:


A:  Because work could drag on to remove radioactive material from the inside of the reactor buildings, repair the reactor containment vessels and fill them with water. Currently, no one can see inside the reactors to confirm how the nuclear fuel inside melted, and depending on the condition of the fuel, the time and costs of disposing of the reactors could increase. A top TEPCO official said, “We don’t know how much it will cost in the end. It could end up costing trillions of yen.”


Q: How are nuclear reactors normally disposed of?

A: First they are brought to under 100 degrees Celsius to a cold shutdown. They are then decontaminated of radiation, their radioactive materials are safely stored, and the reactors are disassembled. This generally takes about 15 years. However, in the case of the crippled Fukushima plant, the fuel is melted and additional work like filling the reactors with water is necessary, so 30 or more years are expected to be needed.


So, in the best case scenario, a controlled demolition of any nuclear power plant will take 15 years.  This is a significantly long time frame.  The problem of disposal of nuclear waste when doing this is a pressing problem dodged artfully by nuclear power producers by storing the wastes where they already are!  Which is why the disaster in Japan is so great.  Not only did the reactors blow  up, the waste storage areas melted down, too.


Any toxic system that has no way of dealing with disaster is a system that should never be allowed to operate, in the first place!  No matter what system we use to warm ourselves or make energy, these will have various levels of impact and cause pollution problems.  But none come even close to the problems caused by a nuclear power plant disaster.  You can wade into an oil spill or move around in a coal disaster or a dam breaking or some horrible event but no one, weeks, months or years or DECADES later can put a toe into a deep nuclear accident like Chernobyl or Fukushima.


Here is a good article about some of the information leaking out of the Fukushima pretense of cleaning up, written by an angry worker there:  Actual Fukushima worker talks: water purifying system has never worked | Fukushima Diary



The concrete basement was constructed really urgently. They built the tent even before the concrete dried so it got cracked already. Other tent may have the same problems too.


it’s actually a temporary tent on a temporary concrete basement. It leaked from the first operation, so they made a tiny dam in it. Maybe it’s only 20cm high.


I don’t get into the tent recently because it’s too radioactive, but I used to pump up leaked contaminated water. The contaminated water emits a lot of beta ray, so you need to be careful…Now the gutter is directly connected to the sea. They must be shut down or a dam must be made. Currently every time it rains, radiation on the ground and radiation stuck to the plants flow into the sea directly.


I remember when the tent solution was first announced.  People actually thought this feeble bandaid deal would stop all problems.  But it was ridiculously too feeble a fix.  Even temporary fix.  It is like a boy being asked to stop a flood by plugging the radioactive water with his thumb.  Also, concrete isn’t the world’s most impenetrable material.  Containment units have to be made of lead.  The fact is, tons of highly radioactive water contaminated with serious materials deadly to all life forms is pouring into the Pacific Ocean.


This has got to be the world’s worst nuclear pollution event, ever and this, in the Pacific which was ravaged by hundreds of nuclear bomb tests since WWII.  Here is a video where a scientist worries that no one knows if we are already in a ‘China Syndrome’ event because no one can see inside of the reactors to see if the meltdown has broken through all the human barriers:  Hartmann: Fukushima…Has the China Syndrome now officially begun? – YouTube

Here is another pessimist, the designer of Fukushima’s reactors, worried about a massive hydrovolcanic explosion | Fukushima Diary.


While wandering about the net today, seeking geological information about Fukushima, I found this document from TEPCO about how they planned to finally, about 40 years too late, do a deep drill geological survey of the site and to see how water percolates under the reactors:

I couldn’t find the results of the drilling.  I fear, it won’t bring anyone good news.  Here are some rather vague maps of the geology of Japan that might give us a dire idea, how complex the strata there are:

Fig. Distribution of crustal movement types — GLGArcs

Just south of Tokyo and Mt. Fuji is where all these major tectonic plates intersect each other and cut the main island of Japan in two.  And it is a major reverse block sandwiched between strike/slip blocks and fold mountains which are nearly all volcanic as we see in the map below:  Fig. Topographical configuration — GLGArcs

Here is a map showing the lower levels of the geological landscape of this tormented island chain:

Basement geologic map — GLGArcs


As we see above, Fukushima is where three major belts intersect in a very squashed fashion.  Pre-Permian and Cretaceous rocks are folded into each other by the urgent pressing of the Pacific Plate being jammed under the North American Plate.  Some of the world’s worst earthquakes happens in this region.


Some people in Japan are beginning to become quite frightened.  This news, Yomiuri: Mayor near Fukushima dies — Had recently been hospitalized two weeks with enteritis, which affected many Chernobyl liquidators « is a typical example.  We don’t know for certain if he died due to radiation poisoning.  No one can see, smell or touch this poison, yet we know it lodges itself inside critical parts of our bodies and then causes mayhem.


The NYT has few articles about Fukushima.  But are still worried to death that things may be different if it is warmer (we had heavy snow last night, by the way):  Fearing Climate Change’s Effects on the Adirondacks –  The article’s title is, ‘Savoring bogs and moose, fearing they will vanish as the Adirondacks Warm…’  Well, a mere eye blink in geological time, there were no moose here.  There were no animals.  There was nothing except mile deep ice.  And so it goes: things change.  But do we need glaciers to smother everything to clean up Fukushima?  This is the question.  Fire or ice, nuclear death and disfigurement or warmer days?  An easy thing to understand, I would imagine.

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Filed under energy, Geology

24 responses to “The Complex And Dangerous Geology of Fukushima

  1. Shawntoh

    Great job, as always, Elaine, and to add to more the depressing news…

  2. payAttention

    Here we go again with the Cambrian and Fermian epochs. I am just going to save all the effort and post it.


    The Gods of the Copybook Headings


    AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

  3. melponeme_k

    I just watched the pulp fiction Elizabeth: The Golden Age film.

    The defeat of the Armada was a huge economic blow but most importantly a psychological one. All the gods were against those who thought they were magical and righteous.

    Fukushima is again the same kind of defeat. It is a blow that has taken out one of the main bulwarks of the sham economic system our elites have in place. We will discover that it is this “magical” sign that will encapsulate our collapse just like those Spanish ships tossed to ruins on the sea.

  4. payAttention

    “No one can see, smell or touch this poison, yet we know it lodges itself inside critical parts of our bodies and then causes mayhem.”

    I do not want to be overly demanding, but can we work on that a little? What it causes is the destruction of your plasma, then marrow. Your immune system will attack the radioactive particle, and one by one, your lymphatic defenses are destroyed on a cellular level while every protein gets coded into garbage by the garbage that used to be ordered nucleic acids. Once those are gone, then the hemoglobin and the intramuscular oxygen transport cells. Ken Kalfus wrote Pu-239 from the viewpoint of a technician caught inside a destroyed reactor after a know it all from the Academy of Sciences changes the doping mix of the fuel, if I remember it correctly. You might want to take a peek at that story.

    Now you can ask yourself if bacterial enteritis is a good death candidate for a destroyed immune system.

  5. Ziff house

    I dearly hope your treatment goes well.

  6. Plove

    @ payAttention

    Yep, immune systems without a steady oxygen supply just can’t cope with all the bugs in our bodies waiting to pounce at the first sign of weakness.

    Silver nanoparticles are oxygen transporters, augmenting one’s immune system through good times and bad.

  7. RobG

    I don’t know the quote but it was said by a nuclear scientist that it take a pin drop of uranium to pollute a large area. So nuclear reactors are a strange way to generate steam.

  8. Elaine steal some time and energy to provide some uplifting positive support for your upcoming physical trauma.
    Hope all goes well and you don’t run out of dry wood before your healthy enough to work your ass off cutting some more.

  9. payAttention

    I do not have specialized knowledge of nuclear medicine so I am extrapolating from the ‘Journey of Life through Science’ text that Mrs. Macnab tried to instill into our adolescent brains. Nevertheless, no amount of oxygen transport would have helped that poor mayor. Maybe if he lined up a hundred people to donate marrow it could have been a start – but then again, plenty of leukemia patients are already waiting for that, and getting a hundred or a thousand people to donate to the one mayor might be selfish. Sure these numbers may seem ridiculous, but I am talking about replacing all his mast cells many times over. Don’t you think there were some heroic protocols invented on the spot to try and save Alex Litvinenko after he was poisoned. It is not as easy as you think.

  10. WilliamMBoston

    “We don’t know for certain if he died due to radiation poisoning. No one can see, smell or touch this poison, yet we know it lodges itself inside critical parts of our bodies and then causes mayhem. “

    I believe it would be extremely easy to detect very minute traces of radioactive particles in his body at time of death, or now or long after.. One might not be able to see radioactive particles with the eye, but because of the fact they radiate, they are extremely easy to detect.

    Since, apparently, no check for radioctivity was done, it seems there was no real concern of radioctivity being a factor, and that implys the original article was being sensational.

  11. WilliamMBoston

    “Containment units have to be made of lead.”

    Lead is great to block radiation, but useless to contain hot matter, since lead is an extremely soft metal that melts at a very low temperature.

  12. WilliamMBoston

    Elaine, Sorry to bring this news …


    Scientists examine plans to cool Earth

    A Friday report at the UN climate conference in South Africa stated that in theory, reflecting a small amount of sunlight back into space before it reaches the Earth’s surface may have dramatic effects on diminishing the global warming, the Associated Press reported.

    Should the plan bear fruit within a few years, global temperatures would return to levels of 250 years ago, before the industrial revolution started dumping carbon dioxide into the air, capturing heat and causing temperatures to climb.

    Full article:

    I have wondered whether the next world war might be over manipulting climate change … because I believe man will have control in which direction to push global temperatures, but some will want to push the thermostat up, and other will be adamant about pushing it down. Just like the mini climate wars that occur all the time in offices and households throughout the world.

    But what happens when nuclear-armed countries feel they are being crippled, put into famine, flooded, etc by the direct manipulation of the climate by other countries selfishly seeking their own climate advantage?

    But, I believe the model which will prevail will be …

    Global Warming Good News: No More Ice Ages

    Best wishes on your upcoming surgery, Elaine.

  13. Jason & Dana Hegna


    Living about 90 miles north of Yellowstone Park in a fairly high-seismic zone, I check that USGS-quake-site virtually every day (from curiosity, not fear).

    Jason has recently been *complaining* about nuke-waste-disposal-methods, e.g., near Yucca Mountain, in the spreading quaking Basin-‘n’-Range-Province, in underground limestone caves interlocking with aquifers. I liked his idea of keeping waste above ground, in sight.

    He reiterates in general the knowledge he has in common with you re: plants on faults, design nightmares, transport, disposal, etc., and then continues on in a disgusted tone, “They’re eventually going to have to fix these insane mistakes, and the sooner they stop making those same mistakes, the less there’ll be to clean up (cost less effort, time, money).”

    His comment was interesting to me because that instinct to *continue* in a directed manner for humanity’s well-being is evident, in spite of overwhelming withering of our planet’s life. (Like HE has to clean it up!)

    You’ld like him, Yoobie. Like yourself, more-complex-than-common childhood events partly formed his (enhanced) *drive* to observe for himself, and to consider subject-matter more thoroughly than is typical, in order to understand more correctly. Having the unusually apt physical apparatus to actually DO that, is probably more of a stroke of luck. (I’m not *one of them,* but I sure can spot ‘em!)

    Dana & (Jason)

    P.S. We and our two doggies drove up onto a west-facing fan of the Bridger Mountains to look at the lunar eclipse this morning. It achieved the midpoint of its totality just before it set.

  14. Plove

    The USA has been creating nuclear waste since world war II with nowhere to store the waste. Its all just stored at the plants that create it. Nuclear waste should be stored in crystalline rock … its solid and where most countries store their waste, but the US Congress passed a law that it could not be stored in crystalline rock. (this is nuts) There is no storage facility that is safe and solid in the United states.

  15. kenogami

    “But what happens when nuclear-armed countries feel they are being crippled, put into famine, flooded, etc by the direct manipulation of the climate by other countries selfishly seeking their own climate advantage ?”

    Maybe sooner than we think:

  16. Plove

    @WilliamMBoston, re: article “Scientists Examine Plans To Cool Earth” is a bit misleading in that it is not a future plan. Airplanes have been aerosoling aluminum, barium, strontium, and titanium nanoparticles (chemtrails) into the atmosphere for the last 11 years. .

    Plants and animals ingest these metal nanoparticles, weaken, and eventually die.

    One of the most egregious aspects of this metalized atmosphere is an exponential increase in lightning, generating ozone, which stays trapped in the Troposphere. This combination of cloud/haze, sunshine, and ozone multiplies the number of high UV Index days in summer time.

  17. emsnews

    250 years ago was the ‘Little Ice Age’. Geeze, I know these guys have gone insane but I really would like to introduce them to hungry polar bears.

  18. WilliamMBoston

    Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power plants by 2030 … but their plans include minimizing nuclear waste by reprocessing some of the uranium into nuclear bombs …

  19. Urban Roman

    WMB, I’m sure they only intend to use the bombs for good purpose, like fracking their oil reservoir. …

  20. Pingback: Stocks Rise As EU Leaders Reject Treaty Changes And Sign An Intergovernmental Fiscal Compact To Establish A Fiscal Union …. Regional Global Governance Of The Eurozone Commences « EconomicReview Journal

  21. nuclearhistory

    Really interesting information. Thanks.

  22. Ken

    safecast does a pretty good roundup of the events around fukushima, and last summer they did a road tour around the affected area measuring radiation, and sharing that info w/ residents. something the govt has not done forthrightly.

    check it out.

  23. Yo

    Help stop another new nuclear bomb factory from being built in Japan: send letters to Asako House!

    (in french, use google translate, or chrome)

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