Kagoshima – Four days, almost 200 earthquakes and the ground is still shaking.
That’s been life lately for residents of the Tokara Islands, a small chain that falls within Kagoshima Prefecture. But officials and experts say the quakes are not necessarily a cause for alarm.
The Meteorological Agency said it doesn’t know what exactly is causing the mostly small quakes but added that they may continue for about a week. The cluster of temblors began on Saturday. On Sunday, the largest to date — 4.8 magnitude quake measuring 4 on Japan’s shindo intensity scale — was on Akuseki Island, home to 60 people. Monday and Tuesday saw quakes hitting shindo 3, but the remainder have been shindo 1 or 2.
No reports of injuries or damage to property were reported in the village of Toshima, an area hit by the stronger of the quakes.
“It feels like (the ground) is constantly shaking, which makes us feel uneasy,” said Miho Kanda, who heads Toshima’s Akuseki Island branch office.
The area saw a similar series of mostly small quakes in April, when 265 temblors ranging from shindo 1 to 4 rattled the nerves of locals.
Sewanose Island, a volcanic island among the Tokara chain — where the Meteorological Agency has issued a level 3 volcanic warning, which bans people from entering the area — is located nearby, but the weather agency has reported no major seismic changes there and said the possibility is low that the quakes are being caused by volcanic activity.
Yukihiro Nakatani, an assistant professor at Kagoshima University, said it is unlikely that the latest quakes would impact any megathrust earthquake centered on the Nankai Trough, a massive ocean-floor trench stretching off the southern coast of Japan from Shizuoka Prefecture to the island of Kyushu.
“The quakes we are seeing now seem to be a localized phenomenon, so I don’t think we need to consider the effect it may have on the areas of the Nankai Trough plates,” he said.
A separate cluster of small quakes has hit the Izu-Oshima island region, which is administered by Tokyo, since Saturday. A dozen quakes hit on Monday alone, all measuring shindo 1.
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