A strait is naturally formed passage or waterway which lies between two land masses and connects two large water bodies. Some traits are navigable while others are not because they are either too shallow or have non-navigable coral reefs or bedrock. Many straits are economically beneficial. Some straits have been used as shipping routes while others have the potential to generate tidal power which is used to produce electricity. For example, Cook Strait in New Zealand has the potential to generate up to 5.6GW of power. Japan’s Akashi Strait is designated international shipping channel and an essential sea transit point.
Location of Akashi Strait
Akashi Strait is located between Osaka Bay on the Pacific Ocean and Seto Inland on the Sea of Japan. The Akashi straits reaches 4,921 feet long, and the central parts consist of a cauldron shaped valley dropping 360 feet deep and 1,312 feet wide. The tidal currents passing through the Strait move at speed reaching about 9 Knots. Geologically the strait is made up of four strata. At the base of the strait, there are the granite of Mesozoic era while in the middle is Kobe stratum and the upper part of the strait is composed of Alluvium and Diluvium Akashi strata of the Cenozoic era. The surrounding areas of Akashi Strait is popular in Japan as a fishing area. Akashi Strait is an essential point at sea, and it is designated as an international channel. Akashi Strait is navigated by nearly 1,400 ships daily.
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Akashi Kaikyo bridge in one the major bridge construction projects that have been undertaken across Akashi Strait. The Suspension bridge stretching 12,795 feet long links Kobe city to Awaji Island on the Sea of Japan. The project began in 1998 and was completed ten years later. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge was constructed at the cost of $4.3bn. The bridge was initially intended to be used by both cars and trains, but it was later approved for only cars. The bridge carries nearly 23,000 cars every day.
Great Hanshin Earthquake
In 1995, a powerful earthquake was experienced underneath Akashi Strait. The movement of Nojima fault caused the earthquake whose magnitude measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. The fault is part of the Median Tectonic Line in Japan that stretches to half of the southern Honshu Island. The earthquake caused severe damage to Kobe and Awaji Island. The earthquake also affected Akashi Kaikyo Bridge which was still under construction at that time.