Hot Spring Water Pouring out of Quake-Hit Residential Area of Fukushima

IWAKI, Fukushima — Hot spring water is pouring out of a quake-hit residential area here apparently as a result of shifts in the Earth’s crust triggered by the March 11 earthquake.

Fifty-year-old Chie Azuma, who owns an apartment complex in the Uchigotakasaka district of Iwaki, noticed the sound of water flowing nearby after an aftershock registering a lower 6 on the 7-point Japanese intensity scale struck on the night of April 11.

Azuma went to the apartment the following morning because it had lost power, and found water leaking from the ground at the complex. Moreover, water was gushing down a pipe to a storm drain.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) examined the water and confirmed that it is identical in quality to water from the Yumoto hot spring about four kilometers south of the complex. The water is 27 degrees Celsius.

Water has recently begun to leak from the ground just below the floor of the apartment complex. The color of the concrete stairway changed because of the spring water’s iron content and the floor became slippery. Furthermore, the ground has sunk.

However, Azuma hopes that the hot spring water is good for people’s skin. She sometimes pours the water in a basin and enjoys a footbath with her daughter.

She hopes that children in her neighborhood will enjoy footbaths because swimming will be banned in the sea off the prefecture because of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Kohei Kazahaya, an AIST senior researcher specializing in groundwater systems, said more than 200 metric tons of hot water is gushing out from beneath the apartment complex a day.

Kazahaya believes that the crust that stretched toward the Pacific Ocean as a result of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake shrank following the April aftershock, causing hot spring water in the pit of a local defunct coal mine to gush out through a newly formed crack.

At the Izumitamatsuyu hot spring area about 10 kilometers south of the apartment complex, hot water began to gush out of a concrete cylinder covering the coal mine’s exhaust vent at almost the same time. The amount of water is more than one can gauge, and its temperature is 50 degrees Celsius. A nearby residential area is sometimes engulfed in sulfurous odors depending on the wind direction, sparking complaints from residents.

Joban Kosan, the company that oversees the vent cap, used to operate the coal mine and now runs a successful hot spring resort. However, the company does not understand what is happening now.

The company says it cannot develop the area into a hot spring resort because no one can predict how long the water will continue to flow.

Kazahaya says the water will likely stop gushing out of the area within several months, noting that the overall volume of underground water has not increased.

However, he stopped short of ruling out the possibility that it will be prolonged, pointing out that the crustal changes triggered by the latest quake caused the changes in the amounts and colors of water at hot spring areas across northeastern Japan.

Short URL:

Posted by Jay White on Jun 27 2011. Filed under ENVIRONMENT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Your Ad Here

Photo Gallery

Your Ad Here