Professors put perspective on tsunami

Roberto Campos

The tsunami that hit Japan in March flooded the coast with a volume of water great enough to equal 12 days flow of the Ohio River, said Paul Doss, professor of geology.

Students, faculty and Evansville residents packed Mitchell Auditorium last Tuesday to hear Doss and Kent Scheller, associate professor of physics, discuss recent geological and nuclear events in Japan in an event titled “Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Nuclear Power: Global Fallout from Japan.”

USI’s seismographs measured the earthquake that affected Japan, which recorded a magnitude of 9.0.


The earthquake has caused geological changes to the island of Japan.

“The whole coast of Japan moved eastward three meters, and it moved downward one meter,” Doss said.   

Many of Japan’s nuclear problems correspond with the geological affects caused by the earthquake.

“Population density is the cause for the (Japanese) to build plants on top of each other,” Scheller said.

The proximity of nuclear power plants to each other has produced threats to the Japanese people and their lifestyles.

“(Because of the nuclear reactor explosions) contamination via air and via groundwater is falling into the ocean,” Scheller said.

This has caused urgency to prevent more nuclear disasters.

“Japan is a nation that relies heavily on its imports, nuclear power and renewables,” Doss said.

Nuclear power has been a development that has produced significant results.

“Nuclear power releases 3 million times more energy than the same mass of coal,” Scheller said.

“But is 3 million times more power worth the risk?”

This is a question that Japan has been forced to consider. 

“The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 million people die per year in the acquisition, processing and use of coal for energy,” Scheller said.

“This dwarfs nuclear power by a factor of 10,000.” Once Doss and Scheller’s lecture was over they opened the discussion to the attendees to ask questions.

“The statistics really helped to put it into perspective,” said Kirstina Mobley, a freshman English and history major.

Doss and Scheller’s discussion presented information to the public in a matter which they could learn and discuss what was going on in Japan.

“Our presentation and others like it are important so that the public is aware of global issues that strike close to home,” Scheller said.