Definition of tectonic hazard, plate movements, LEDCs, MEDCs, responses, people and governments (human responses) Hazard profile sections of report: magnitude, frequency, predictability Concepts and theories: models and diagrams Case studies: LEDC Haiti earthquake, MEDC tsunami Japan, California, China Introduction Tectonic activity varies due to geographical location and position of tectonic plate boundaries. The Earth’s crust is made up of continental and oceanic plates, which move across the surface of the planet, meeting at plate boundaries.
Plate tectonics cause volcanic activity, tsunamis and earthquakes. Responses in terms of humans refers to the action taken to minimize the risk to human life and possessions. This response can range from an individual level to international level. They can be seen as modifying the event, modifying the vulnerability and modifying the loss. (See Figure 1) This model shows the variations depending on the hazard and the range of physical factors which relate to the nature of the hazard. Hazard profiling shows factors such as frequency and magnitude.
The differences of a tsunami and earthquake are similar and yet they can have different effects in different locations depending on predictability and duration. (See Figure 2) Although this shows the variation in physical factors, it doesn’t take into account the human factors such as preparedness and state of the economy. In this report, I will examine both of these factors to gain a balanced view in terms of responses, using a range of examples and case studies as evidence. It will focus on countries with varying levels of development and hazards so I can compare and contrast them to make my evaluation strong.
Methodology: In order to complete a well rounded and researched report, secondary research from various sources were used and analyzed. Internet sites such as Wikipedia were useful to provide basic information about certain countries, such as population size, although they had to be used with caution as sometimes the information is not reliable and up to date. I also used geographical websites, news websites and textbooks to provide me with information and sample models & theorists for example the Degg model and Park model.
I carefully evaluated each source to eliminate any bias and to check the validity of the information. It can appear that the news sources are reliable, as they are of a journalistic nature. Websites such as the USGS and BGS provided fantastic and reliable statistics regarding the extent of world hazard modification and also individual case studies of various tectonic hotspots. They also provided links to relevant news and journals on the subject, which proved to be very useful. These sources allowed me to compile various case studies, including the Japan Tsunami in 1993 and the Haiti Earthquake in 2010.
I also found current and up to date information from the BBC website. Information from government websites was treated with caution as figures may have been represented differently depending on the scenario of the country, making some results potentially un-reliable. Economic Development Strong economic development allows for efficient responses as shown in Figure 1. Well run governments and investment in pre hazard responses e. g education for the country’s population are positive actions for coping with vulnerability.
The 2003 Californian earthquake with a magnitude of 6. 5 only killed 3 people when a building collapsed in the middle of the city of Eureka, according to the U. S. Geological Survey. Due to this area identified as a hotspot, the government were quick with regards to their ability to respond to these hazards. It’s very self sufficient when it comes down to helping the population and making sure they receive physical and medical help when needed. The public and authorities are also educated and informed on a regular basis so cope well in terms of immediate responses.
In contrast, the Haiti earthquake of January 2010 was of a similar magnitude 7. 0 quake, but caused up to 250,000 deaths. The lack of governmental aid and the long duration of time it took for help to arrive from abroad meant there was no immediate response so the human loss was high. 90% of the country’s population have little or no money and so cannot afford the safety resources or modifications in need to rebuild their lives, this meant the internal response process was very slow and is still ongoing with the country being an LEDC.
These examples show that human factors related to wealth and development are just as important in explaining responses as well as the physical factors, as the contrast of an LEDC and an MEDC show how the differences in political and economic power can have an impact on population. Predictability Hazard observations are an important factor which can affect predictability. Although this isn’t the case with earthquakes, monetization of a volcano is easily achievable. Mt St Helens was closely observed by satellites and therefore people were aware of the changes.
They were therefore able to evacuate and 63 people died despite huge pyroclastic flows destroying vegetation up to 32km away from the volcano. However, the Japan earthquake in 2011 with a Richter scale of 9. 0 had over 15,000 deaths however 99% of these were from the impacts of the tsunami which happened thirteen minutes after the devastation it created to the coastline. The Japanese government was not aware of this tsunami until 3 minutes before it was due to hit land as the wave was over 60 metres high.
The reaction was not quick enough and the wave washed away towns and cities destroying motorway bridges and airports. This made the response process even harder as they had to not only cope with the initial unpredictable earthquake but the tsunami and the effect on the infrastructure which followed. The local government did build sea walls high enough to protect against the effects of the previous tsunami however they didn’t imagine a more powerful wave would ever strike the coast.
Even when tectonic activity can be predicted there are still challenges for the community – however not being able to predict them at all clearly is the largest challenge for many. If there had been a tsunami warning system in place in Japan, maybe the death toll would have been reduced. Geographical Location The location of a hazard can have a significant effect on the scale of the disaster such as a major city which will have a high chance of death and injury than a rural community that is less densely populated.
Often areas which are densely populated make it difficult to respond to in an emergency as infrastructure can become easily blocked and people may be hard to find amongst the aftermath of the hazard. Response to people in rural areas can also be just as challenging as it is often difficult to reach people who live in the middle of nowhere such as farmers in LEDCs. They are often uneducated too and may not have seen anyone for weeks so would be unaware of a hazard. As well as locality, there’s also the aspect of the physical location, whether this be countries on a fault line or near a concentrated epicentre.
Countries such as Japan who have both of these have to be well educated in responding to hazards and are lucky enough to have the technology in order to predict. It could also depend on whether the location is mountainous or flat as far as volcanoes are concerned. Hazards in mountainous areas are likely to be easier to respond to quicker than in flat areas as you can see what’s happening from afar as the land is risen, this means more warning can be given making it easier to save lives.
Courtney from Study Moose
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