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Option D - Geophysical Hazards

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Geophysical Hazards

Mechanisms of plate movement:


 Internal heating
 Convection currents
 Plumes
 Subduction
 Rifting at plate margins

Internal Structure of the Earth:

 The solid mantle makes up 82% of the volume of the Earth.


 The density of the layers is controlled by temperature and pressure.

Internal Heating:
 The flow of heat comes from two main sources-radiogenic heat (radioactive decay of
materials in the mantle and crust) and primordial heat (heat lost by the Earth as it continues to
cool from its original formation).
 Earth heat is transferred by convection, conduction and volcanic advection.
o Most is by mantle convection, with the remaining heat mainly originating in the
Earth's crust
o About 1% is due to volcanic activity, earthquakes and mountain building.
o Almost all of the Earth's internal heat loss at the surface is by conduction through
the crust.

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Convection Currents:
 Large scale convection currents occur in the Earth's interior. Hot magma rises through the
core to the surface and then spreads out at mid-ocean ridges.
 The cold solidified crust sinks back into the Earth's interior because it is heavier and denser
than the surrounding material.
 The cause of the movement is radioactive decay of uranium and potassium in the mantle.

Plumes:
 Refers to a small area of unusually high heat flow.
 Plumes or hotspots can cause movement, that is, the outward flow of viscous rock from the
centre may create a drag force on the plates and cause them to move.
 Most plumes are found near plate margins and they may be responsible for the original
rifting of the crust
 However, the world's most abundant source of lava, the Hawaiian Hotspot, is not on the
plate margin.

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Subduction:
 Refers to the plunging of one plate beneath another
 Subduction zones form where an oceanic lithospheric plate collides with another plate-
continental or oceanic.
 The density of the oceanic plate is similar to that of the asthenosphere, so it can be easily
pushed down into the upper mantle.
 Subducted (lithospheric) oceanic crust remains cooler, and therefore denser than the
surrounding mantle, for millions of years; so once initiated, subduction carries on driven by the
weight of the subducting crust.
 The subducting plate drags or pulls the rest of the plate behind it.
 Plates are hot at the mid-ocean ridge but cool as they move away.
 Partial melting occurs in the subduction zone.

Rifting at plate margins:


 Occurs at constructive plate boundaries, for example at the East Africa Rift Valley or the rift
at Thingvellir, Iceland, where the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate are moving
away from each other.
 Hotspot activity is believed to be the main cause of rifting.
 The rift valleys created consist of rock that is hotter and less dense than the older, colder
plate.
 Hot material wells up beneath the ridges to fill the gaps created by the spreading plates.

a. Upwelling convection in the mantle causes the oceanic crust to form a ridge
b. Lateral tension develops, causing rift faulting and downward movement of the central block;
magma intrudes along faults, giving surface lava

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c. Lateral movement continues with further intrusions parallel to original rift faults.
d. Main rifting sequence is repeated periodically as upwelling continues.
The characteristics of volcanoes:
 Shield
 Composite
 Cinder

Shield Volcanoes:
 Build up when there is no explosive activity, therefore no ejected fragments
 Formed from very hot, runny basaltic lava.
 Because it is hot, it flows great distances
 Have gently sloping sides, a shallow crater and a large circumference.
 Potential hazard: 3- no pyroclastic flows
 Example: Mauna Loa: shallow crater, slope of 6°, circumference of 16km, diameter of 110km
at sea level.
o Many frequent eruptions

Composite Volcanoes:
 Most common volcanoes
 Formed by the alternating eruptions of fragmental material followed by lava outflows.
 Characterised by slopes of 3° near the summit and 5° near the base.
 Highest volcanoes in the world are composite e.g. Mt Etna, Vesuvius
 Main cone consists of layers of ash and lava, fed from the main pipe, which accumulated in a
crater.
 A large explosion may blow the top off the cone and form a much larger crater within which
a secondary cone may develop.
 Potential Hazard: 1- build-up of pressure and lack of preparedness
 Parasitic cones frequently grow on the sides, e.g. Mt Etna.
 Sometimes a volcano can suffer a very violent eruption after a long period of inactivity.
 The pipe becomes plugged with cooled lava, the pressure of gas builds up and the result is a
violent explosion
 Example: Mt Etna: December 2015

Cinder Volcanoes:
 Formed by fragments of solid material which accumulate as a steep conical hill around the
vent to form a cone.
 The shape depends on the nature of the material
 Usually concave as the material spreads out near the base and has a steep angle of 30°-40°
depending on the size of the material
 Cinder and ash cones are not usually very high (up to 300m) with one exception (Volcano Du
Fuego in Guatemala- 3350m and all ash)
 Potential hazard: 1 or 2- violent eruption and lava flow
 Eruptions are violent-lava is ejected into the atmosphere and breaks up into cinders, ash and
other fragments.
 Example: Big Cinder Butte (USA) and Inferno cone (USA). Haven't erupted in several
thousand years.

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Types of volcanic eruption

Lava eruptions:
 The amount of silica in a lava eruption is what makes the difference between continuous
eruptions (like Hawaii and Iceland) and violent and infrequent eruptions (like Japan and the
Philippines).
 Lava released where the oceans meet the continents absorbs silica-rich sediments. This
causes the lava to become more viscous and block the vents until enough pressure has built up
to break them open.
 Icelandic eruptions are categorised by persistent fissure eruption. Large quantities of basaltic
lava may build up vast horizontal plains.
o On large scale these have formed the Deccan Plateau and the Columbia Plateau
 Hawaiian eruptions involve a central vent. Occasional pyroclastic activity occurs, but this is
less important than the lava eruption. Runny basaltic lava flows down the sides of the volcano
and gases escape easily.

Pyroclastic Eruptions:
 Strombolian eruptions:
o Explosive eruptions that produce pyroclastic rock
o Commonly marked by a white cloud of steam emitted from the crater
o Frequent gas explosions blast quantities of runny lava into the air, and when these
settle and cool, they form a cone.
 Vulcanian eruptions:
o Violent and occur when the pressure of trapped gases in viscous magma becomes
sufficient to blow off the overlying crust of solidified lava
o The eruption often clears a blocked vent and spews large quantities of volcanic ash
into the atmosphere.
o Violent gas explosions blast out plugs of sticky or cooled lava
o Fragments build up the cone of ash and pumice
 Vesuvian eruptions:
o Characterised by very powerful blasts of gas that push ash clouds high into the sky.
o Lava flows occur
o Ash falls to cover the surrounding area
 Plinian eruptions:
o Extremely violent eruptions characterised by huge clouds of pulverised rock and ash
that are kilometres thick
o Gas rushes up through the sticky lava and blasts ash and fragments into the sky in
huge explosions
o Gas clouds and lava can also rush down slopes

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o Part of the volcano may be blasted away during the eruption


 Pelean eruptions:
o Large quantities of viscous magma erupted
o Forms glowing ash associated with pyroclastic flows
o Produce steep sided conical volcanoes.

Associated secondary hazards


 Pyroclastic flows
 Lahars
 Landslides

Hazards associated with volcanic eruptions vary spatially:


 Close to the volcano- risk from large fragments and debris, ash falls and poisonous gases.
 Further away- pyroclastic flows
 Even further- mudflows and debris flows

Primary Hazards:
 Direct impacts of the eruption e.g. lava flows, ash fallout, pyroclastic flows and gas
emissions.

Secondary hazards:
 Due to the way that the ejected material reacts or changes form
o Ash + rainwater = mudflow (lahar)
o Heat + snow/ice = glacial flood (jokulhlaup)

Pyroclastic flows:
 Powerful enough to knock down trees and to leave a trail of destruction.
 Extremely hot- up to 700°C- and can travel at speeds of over 500 km/h
 Ash and debris travelled through the air and fallen to the ground- pyroclastic fall deposits.
o Very fine ash particles can damage people's lungs
o Ash is very heavy- a layer of only a few cm thick can cause a building to collapse
o Dust and fine particles cause havoc with global climate patterns

Lahars:
 Form of landslide
 Combination of heavy rain and unstable ash increases the chance of lahars
 Example: Casita Volcano, Nicaragua. Killed over 2,000 people as it flowed down towards the
towns of El Porvenir and Rolando Rodriguez.

Landslides:
 Two main types: debris avalanches and lahars
 Debris avalanches commonly occur around the same time as the eruption, and may help the
eruption to occur
 Example: Mt St Helens 1980- triggered by an earthquake. Contained over 1km 3 of material,
and released pressure on the flank of Mt St Helens and was partially responsible for the
horizontal blast from the volcano.

Volcanic gases:
 Primary hazard
 Can be poisonous to humans, animals and ecosystems
 Carbon dioxide will sink because it is denser than air, so it suffocates people

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Characteristics of Earthquakes
 Depth of focus
 Epicentre
 Wave types

Earthquake: a series of seismic vibrations or shock waves which originate from the focus- the point
at which the plates release their tension or compression suddenly.
Depth of focus:
 Shallow-focus earthquakes occur relatively close to the ground surface, whereas deep-focus
earthquakes occur at considerable depth under the ground
 Shallow-focus earthquakes have greater have greater potential to do damage as less of the
energy released by the earthquake is absorbed by overlying material.
 A large earthquake can be preceded by smaller tremors known as foreshocks and followed
by numerous aftershocks
 Aftershocks can be particularly devastating because they damage buildings that have already
been weakened by the first main shock
 Seismic waves are able to travel along the surface of the Earth and also through the body of
the Earth.

Epicentre:
 The point on the surface of the Earth immediately above the focus of the earthquake

Wave Types:
 Two main types of waves: body waves and surface waves
 Body waves are transmitted upwards towards the surface from the focus of the earthquake
 Shock waves inside the earth include:
o Primary (P) waves/ pressure waves: fastest and can move through solids and liquids.
They shake the earth backwards and forwards
o Secondary (S) waves/ shear waves: move with a sideways motion and are unable to
move through liquids. They make the ground move horizontally, causing much damage.
 When P and S waves reach the surface, some of them are transformed into surface waves.

 Surface waves travel slowly through the crust, but they cause the most damage. They
include:
o Love waves: cause the ground to move sideways
o Rayleigh waves: cause the ground to move up and down

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 P and S waves are transmitted from the earthquake focus to the surface. Surface waves are
produced in the ground by the transformation of some body waves once they reach the
surface
 P-waves travel fastest, hence the first movement is felt from the P-wave
 The deeper the wave is in the mantle, the faster it travels. Waves are slowed down and
refracted in the semi-liquid core.
 P-waves travel faster than S-waves because they are compressional, like sound waves,
compressing and expanding rock and liquid in the same direction in which they move, mostly
vertically.
 S-waves are distortional
 They move with a side-to-side shearing motion, making them slower and are unable to
travel through liquids
 They make the ground move both vertically and horizontally. Since buildings cannot
withstand much horizontal stress, S-waves do more damage than P-waves.

Plate boundaries and earthquakes

 The movement of oceanic crust into the subduction zone creates some of the deepest
earthquakes recorded, up to 700km below the ground.
 When the oceanic crust slides into the hotter fluid mantle, it takes time to warm up. As the
slab descends, it distorts and cracks and eventually creates earthquakes.
 Subduction is relatively fast, so by the time the crust has cracked it is slid several hundred
kilometres down into the mantle.
 In areas where there is a lot of earthquake activity, the chances of an earthquake grow as
the length of time since the last earthquake increases.
 Plates move at a rate of between 1.5cm and 7.5cm a year. A large earthquake can involve a
movement of a few metres, which could occur every couple of hundred years rather than
movements of a few centimetres each year.
 Many earthquakes are caused by the pressure created by moving plates. This increases the
stress on rocks, the rocks deform and eventually give way and snap. The snapping is the
release of energy, namely the earthquake.
 The size of the earthquake depends on the thickness of the descending slab and the rate of
movement.
 Along mid-ocean ridges, brittle faults occur as magma cools, solidifies and then cracks due to
upwelling magma from below. Earthquakes here are small because the brittle faults cannot
extend more than a few kilometres.

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Human triggers:
 Dam building
 Resource extraction

Many earthquakes occur a long way from any plate boundaries. This is related to human activity, e.g.
construction of large dams, mining, fracking, and the testing of nuclear weapons.

The injection of liquid waste into bedrock:


 Reactivates and lubricates a series of deep underground faults which had been inactive for a
long time.
 The more waste water pumped into it, the larger the number of minor earthquakes.
 Example: 700 minor earthquakes in Denver, Colorado.

Mining:
 Collapsing mines cause earthquakes
 With the gradual closure of coal mines, the number of tremors has fallen by 95%.
 Example: lead mines collapsing in Derbyshire.

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing):


 Water, containing chemicals is injected at a very high pressure into rocks in order to open up
their pore spaces and release natural gas contained within the rocks.
 2011, fracking lead to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake in Lancashire.
 The biggest was in 2014 at a 4.4 magnitude in Canada.

Nuclear Testing:
 Underground nuclear testing has triggered many earthquakes
 Example: 1968, 1,200 tonne bombs in Nevada set off 30 minor earthquakes in the area over
the following 3 days.

Dam building:
 Adding increased loads on previously stable land surfaces causes earthquakes
 The weight of water behind a reservoir triggers earthquakes
 The construction of the Hoover Dam in 1935 caused 6,000 minor earthquakes due to the
increased load of 40km3 of water.

Associated secondary hazards:


 Tsunamis
 Landslide
 Liquefaction
 Transverse faults

Tsunamis:
 A long, high sea wave caused by an earthquake or other disturbance
 The movement of tectonic plates under the sea can cause displacement of large amounts of
water, that trigger tsunamis
 Example: Japan 2011- more deaths caused by tsunami than by the earthquake that triggered
them.

Landslides:
 Some earthquakes involve large scale earth movement, especially along fault lines

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 This may lead to the fracture of gas pipes as well as causing damage to transport routes and
lines of communication.
 An earthquake may cause an uplifting of land that will mean that there is a large amount of
land that is displaced.
 The waves from an earthquake may weaken further a crack in the land, which may lead to
the land to be displaced and cause a landslide.

Liquefaction:
 Saturated soil loses strength and rigidity because of applied stress, normally an earthquake
 This change in state causes the ground to behave like water and things begin to sink into it
 Example: Christchurch, New Zealand, 2011

Transverse Faults:
 Occur when movement is horizontal but the fracture is vertical, and they are the product of
earthquakes
 Example: San Andreas fault, California

Classification of mass movement types according to cause (physical and human), liquidity, speed
of onset, duration, extent and frequency

Mass movements:
 Include any large-scale movement of the Earth's surface that are not accompanied by a
moving agent such as a river, glacier or ocean wave.
 They include:
o Very slow movements e.g. soil creep
o Fast movements e.g. avalanches
o Dry movement e.g. rockfalls
o Very fluid movement e.g. mudflows
 A range of slope processes (overland flow and mudflows) occur, which vary in terms of
magnitude, frequency and scale..
 Some are large and occur infrequently, notably rockfall, whereas others are more
continuous, such as soil creep.
 The types of processes can be classified in the following ways:
o Type of movement (flows, slides, slumps)
o Speed of movement
o Water content
o Material

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Causes of Mass movements:


 The likelihood of a slope failing can be expressed by its safety factor- the relative strength or
resistance of the slope compared with the force that is trying to move it.
 The most important factors that determine movement are: gravity, slope angle and pore
pressure
 Gravity:
o Acts to move the material downslope (slide component)
o Then acts to stick the particles to the slope (stick component)
 Slope angle:
o The downslope movement is proportional to the weight of the particle and slope
angle.
o Water lubricates particles and in some cases fills the spaces between the particles.
This forces them apart under pressure
 Pore Pressure:
o Greatly increases the ability of the material to move
o This is of particular importance in movements of wet material on low-angle slopes
 Slope failure is caused by two factors and both can occur at the same time:
o A reduction in the internal resistance - shear strength - of the slope.

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o An increase in shear stress - the forces attempting to pull a mass downslope

Shear strength: the internal resistance of a slope


Shear stress: the forces attempting to pull a mass downslope

Factors contributing to increased shear stress:


Factor Examples

Removal of lateral support Erosion by rivers and glaciers, wave action, faulting, previous
through undercutting or slope rockfalls or slides
steepening

Removal of underlying Undercutting by rivers and waves, subsurface solution, loss of


support strength by exposure of sediments

Loading of slope Weight of water, vegetation, accumulation of debris

Lateral pressure Water in cracks, freezing in cracks, swelling, pressure release

Transient stresses Earthquakes, movement of trees in wind

Factors contributing to reduced shear strength:


Factor Examples

Weathering effects Disintegration of granular rocks, hydration of clay minerals,


chemical solution of minerals (weathering of certain chemicals,
notably calcium carbonate) in soil

Changes in pore water Saturation, softening of material pressure

Changes of structure Creation of fissures in clays, remoulding of sands and clays

Organic effects Burrowing of animals, decay of roots

The spatial distribution of geophysical hazard events: earthquakes, volcanoes, mass movements

Earthquakes:
 Generally occur in linear patterns, generally following plate boundaries.
 Broad belts of earthquakes are associated with subduction zones, whereas narrower belts of
earthquakes are associated with constructive plate margins.
 Collision boundaries are associated (such as the Himalayas) with broad belts of earthquakes,
whereas conservative plate boundaries (San Andreas fault), give a relatively narrow belt of
earthquakes.
 Isolated occurrences of earthquakes may be due to human activities or to isolated plumes of
rising magma known as hotspots.

Volcanoes:
 Most volcanoes are found at plate boundaries, although some (such as Hawaii) occur at
hotspots.
 3/4 of the Earth's historically active volcanoes lie along the Pacific Ring of Fire.
 Other main areas of active volcanicity include Iceland, Montserrat and Mt Nyiragongo in the
DRC (above ground) and Kick 'em off Jenny off Grenada in the Caribbean (submarine).

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 Volcanoes are found along the boundaries of the Earth's major plates.
 The volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire are caused by the subduction beneath either the
oceanic or continental crust. Subduction in the oceans produces chains of volcanic islands
known as island arcs (Aleutian Islands formed by the Pacific Plate subducting beneath the
North American Plate)
 Where the subduction of an oceanic crust occurs beneath the continental crust, young fold
mountains are formed (Andes formed where the Nazca Plate subducts beneath the South
American Plate)
 Some volcanoes are formed by a hotspot- a jet of hot material rising from the deep within
the mantle.
 Hotspots have caused the volcanicity of the Canary Islands, Azores and Iceland, as well as
beneath continents (East African Rift Valley) which can produce isolated volcanoes. These can
play a part in the break-up of continents and the formation of new oceans.

Landslides:
 Naturally occurring phenomena in every environment on Earth, including the tropics,
temperate regions, high latitudes and also the ocean.
 Fatal landslides are more common in areas that have:
o Active tectonic processes that lead to high rates of uplift and occasional seismic
events.
o High levels of precipitation, including high annual totals and high short-term
intensities.
o A high population density.
 Where one or two of these factors are absent, the risk of fatal landslides is reduced.
 Locations of most fatal landslides in low - income countries where mitigation schemes are
less likely to be in place:
o Southern edge of the Himalayan mountain chain
o Central China
o South west India
o Along the western boundary of the Philippine sea plate through Japan, Taiwan and
the Philippines
o Central Indonesia, in particular the island of Java
o The Caribbean and central Mexico
o The western edge of South America, especially Columbia.
 There has also been a scattering of fatal landslides elsewhere, through Europe, tropical parts
of Africa and North America.

The relevance of hazard magnitude and frequency/recurrence intervals for risk management

 Recurrence interval/ return period- the expected frequency of occurrence in years for an
event of a particular size.
 Small events have a high frequency/short return period whereas large events have a very
low frequency/high return period.
o Therefore there are fewer highly destructive earthquakes but many minor ones.
o These are generalised into high- frequency low- magnitude events vs. low-
frequency high- magnitude events.
o Low-frequency high- magnitude events cause the most destruction and require the
greatest management.

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 Annual frequency of occurrence of earthquakes of different magnitude based on


observations since 1990:
Descriptor Magnitude Annual average Hazard potential

Great >8 1 Total destruction, high loss of life

Major 7-7.9 18 Serious building damage, major loss of life

Strong 6-6.9 120 Large losses, especially in urban areas

Moderate 5-5.9 800 Significant losses in populated areas

Light 4-4.9 6,200 Usually felt, some structural damage

Minor 3-3.9 49,000 Typically felt but usually little damage

 Magnitude of earthquakes, the energy released and relative frequencies:

Earthquake frequency and magnitude:


 In 1935 Charles Richter created the Richter scale to measure the magnitude of earthquakes
 The scale is logarithmic, so an earthquake of 5.0 on the Richter scale is 10 times more
powerful than one of 4.0 and 100 times more powerful than 3.0.
 Scientists are increasingly using the Moment Magnitude Scale (M) which measures the
amount of energy released and produces figures that are similar to the Richter scale.
 For every increase of 1 on the M scale, the amount of energy released increases by over 30.
Every increase of 0.2 represents a doubling of the energy released.

Measuring Volcanoes:
 The strength of a volcano is measured by the Volcanic Explosive Index (VEI)
 Based on the amount to material ejected in the explosion, the height of the cloud it creates
and the amount of damage caused.
 A VEI 8 (super volcano) ejects more than 1,000km 3 of material, 10 times more than a VEI 7.

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VE Classification Descriptio Height Volume of Frequenc Example Occurrence


I n of materials y of s in the last
eruptio erupted Eruption 10,000
n years
column

0 Hawaiian Non- <100m <10,000m3 Daily Kilauea Many


explosive

1 Hawaiian/Str- Gentle 100- 10,000m3 Daily Hekla, Many


ombolian 1000m Iceland
(2000)

2 Strombolian/ Explosive 1-5km 1,000,000m3 Weekly Unzen, 3,477


Vulcanian Japan
(1990)

3 Vulcanian/ Pelean Severe 3-15km 10,000,000 Yearly Nevado 868


m3 del Ruiz
(1985)

4 Pelean/ Plinian Cataclysmi 10- 0.1km3 ≥10 years Soufrièr 278


c 25km e Hills
(1995)

5 Plinian Paroxysma 25km 1km3 ≥50 years Mt St 84


l Helens
(1980)

6 Plinian/Ultra-Plinian Colossal 25km 10km3 ≥10 years Krakato 39


a (1883)

7 Plinian/Ultra-Plinian Super- 25km >100km3 ≥1,000 Tambor 4


colossal years a

8 Plinian/Ultra-Plinian Mega- 25km >1,000km3 ≥10,000 Toba 0


colossal years (73,000
BP)

Geophysical hazard risk as a product of economic factors (levels of development and technology),
social factors (education, gender), demographic factors (population density and structure) and
political factors (governance)

 Environmental hazards occur when people and property are at risk.


 The behavioural school of thought considers that environmental hazards are the result of
natural events. People put themselves at risk by, for example, living on or at the foot of steep
slopes.
 The structuralist school of thought stresses the constraints placed on poor people by the
prevailing social and political system of the country. Poor people live in unsafe areas such as
on steep slopes or floodplains because they are prevented from living in better areas. Provides
a link between environmental hazards and the underdevelopment and economic dependency
of many developing countries.

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 Vulnerability includes not only the physical effects of a natural hazard, but also the status of
people and property in the affected area.
 Vulnerability depends on a large number of factors.
 Economic factors:
o Levels of wealth and development: quality of housing, car ownership, ability to
afford insurance. Many of the world's poor have no option but to live in shanty towns.
o Construction styles and building codes: in some earthquakes, the government
buildings survive, where schools are destroyed.
o Access to technology: hazard warnings are issued via smartphones in developed
areas, so the people can keep up to date better than without such communications.
o Insurance cover: poor people generally have no insurance cover and they are most
likely to be affected in a natural hazard as their housing quality is poor.
 Social factors:
o Education: people with a better education generally have a higher income and can
afford better quality housing and vehicles. They may also have a greater understanding
of the nature and potential of natural hazard events.
o Public education: education programmes have helped to reduce the number of
deaths as a result of earthquakes (e.g. Japan)
o Awareness of hazards: the 2004 tsunami in South Asia alerted many people to the
dangers that tsunamis present
o Gender: many women are carer for children and/or parents and they may feel
responsible for them following an event. In some societies, women may not have the
means to leave an area even if they want to.
 Demographic factors:
o Population density: high population density is dangerous in the case of a natural
hazard
o Age: dependents are more likely to die
o Migrants: when people move to an area, they may be unaware of some of the
natural hazards present in that environment
o Disability: more vulnerable in the event of a hazard
o Cultural factors: extent of trust in the government, scientists or other authority
figures; extent and success of social networks; amount of control or autonomy that that
a community feels it has; the perceived hazard level.
 Political factors:
o Nature of society: governments may not allow aid to victims
o Effectiveness of lines communications: the faster the communications, the faster aid
can come in
o Availability and readiness of emergency personnel: prediction methods can reduce
fatalities

Geographic factors affecting geophysical hazard event impacts, including rural/urban location,
time of day and degree of isolation

The impacts of geophysical events depend on a number of interrelated factors:


 Magnitude and frequency of events:
o Stronger the earthquake, the more damage it can do. Also the more aftershocks, the
more damage it can do
o Earthquakes that occur close to the surface are more likely to do more damage,
since overlying rocks will absorb more of energy of the deep-focus earthquakes

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o Volcanic eruptions of VEI 6 or 7 will have greater impacts than VEI 0.


 Population density:
o A geophysical event that hits an urban area of high population density, could inflict
far more damage than one that hits a rural area of low population and building density.
 Type of buildings:
o HICs generally have better quality buildings that are built to be earthquake resistant.
o People in HICs also are more likely to have insurance cover, so recovery after the
event is easier
 Time of day:
o An earthquake in a busy time, e.g. rush hour, may cause more deaths than one at
quiet time.
o There are fewer people in industrial and commercial areas on Sundays
o At night, more people are at home
o Less of a factor in volcanic eruptions and these do not generally have such a sudden
onset
 Distance from the geophysical event:
o Impact of a volcano may decrease with distance from the volcano, whereas the
effect of an earthquake may be greater further away from the epicentre.
o Most damage will occur where there are the most buildings and people, particularly
if structures have not been built to strict construction standards
 Types of rocks and sediments:
o Loose materials may act like liquid when shaken, a process known as liquefaction.
o Solid rock is much safer, and buildings built on flat areas of solid rock are more
earthquake resistant
o Unconsolidated volcanic sediments are at high risk of landslide compared with solid
geology
 Secondary hazards:
o May cause more fatalities than the original event
o Include: tsunamis, fires, contaminated water, disease, hunger and hypothermia
 Economic development:
o HICs will generally have a better level of preparedness and more effective
emergency response services, better access to technology and health services
o More funds to cover cost of coping with disasters

Christchurch Earthquakes 2010-2012 Case Study

BACKGROUND

Fact Impact/assessment/judgement

New Zealand's second-largest urban area High population means many people were affected
with a population of 386,000 and the area affected by lack of electricity and water
is larger. Urban area means lots of access routes, so
possibility of aid reaching area faster.

7.1 magnitude, with the epicentre 40km Close to the city and shallow focus, so the shock
west of Christchurch with the focus at a waves are not absorbed as effectively. Very strong
depth of 10km. magnitude, so has the potential to cause a lot of
damage. Close to Christchurch, so major disruption
will affect a lot of people and will have more
noticeable effects.

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4 September 2010 at 4:35 am. Aftershocks Most people in buildings, so collapsing buildings
continued into 2012, the strongest of which would have the potential to cause a lot of damage
was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 and fatalities. Aftershocks will have destroyed a lot
February 2011 of buildings and infrastructure already damaged by
the original earthquake.

Building standards in New Zealand are high Any buildings have a greater chance of withstanding
earthquakes and holding until at least people can get
out of the building, reducing injuries and fatalities.
Also means that buildings and infrastructure that has
to be rebuilt will be able to withstand future
earthquakes.

2.4 doctors per 1,000 people More people have access to medical attention,
reducing the spread of disease and fatalities from
injuries.

LOCATION DETAILS

 Earthquakes that cause significant damage and loss of life can occur in the Christchurch area
on average every 55 years. Around 100 fault lines have been identified in the region, some
as close as 20km from central Christchurch. The 2010 earthquake occurred on a previously
unknown fault. The epicentre was located about 80-90km south east of the current surface
location of the Australia-Pacific boundary. By August 2012, over 11,000 aftershocks of
magnitude 2.0 or over had been recorded, with 26 over 5.0 and 2 over 6.0.

PRIMARY EFFECTS

Fact Impact/assessment/judgement

181 people killed and 2,000 injured Very few deaths for such a powerful earthquake so
near to a major urban area. A lot of injuries, but the
majority will be able to be dealt with as there is no
lack of medical attention in the country.

50% + of the city's buildings were severely Will cost a lot of money to fix buildings, but high
damaged standards mean that this will be done well. Shelter
will need to be found for people who are not able to

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be in their homes, meaning conditions will be difficult


and there is a possibility that disease will spread.

Many of the people affected were in Easy to catch fire if a gas pipe was broken in the
timber-framed houses aftermath of an earthquake. Cheaper to rebuild but
does not have a stronger structure than other
houses.

Sewers damaged and water pipes were Many people without sanitary conditions, leads to
broken spread of disease. Lack of clean water again leads to
spread of disease. Lots of people affected as the area
is New Zealand's second largest urban area.

Water supply at Rolleston, south west of Spread of disease. However, no lack of medical
Christchurch was contaminated attention and the country is developed meaning that
there is enough medicine for everyone.

Power to up to 75% of the city was Disrupts work for the people, leading to a potential
disrupted economic slowdown as jobs lack efficiency.

Christchurch International Airport was Lack of income for the country via tourism. Difficult
closed following the earthquake and flights for aid to come in. Due to MEDC, it is likely that they
in and out of it were cancelled will become safe and open again in a short amount of
time, lessening the impact in the long term compared
to an LEDC.

SECONDARY EFFECTS

Fact Impact/assessment/judgement

Liquefaction caused damage to roads and More damage is done, increasing the cost of damage
buildings to the country. Difficult to prepare for liquefaction so
houses will likely continue to be destroyed in the long
term if it occurs again.

Businesses out of action for a long time Economic slowdown in the country as money is not
generated, so corporate taxes cannot be paid. Less
money also for the government who needs the money
to repair the country.

Insurance claims were between NZD 2.75 Severe impact on the economy, which is made larger
billion and NZD 3.5 billon. due to the fact that many businesses were out of
action and the airport was closed, reducing income.
Long term impact on the economy.

RESPONSES

Fact Impact/assessment/judgement

Over 40 search and rescue personnel and Fast response means that many people were helped
three sniffer dogs were brought from the and accidents and fatalities were prevented. Shows
North Island to Christchurch on the day of organised and effective communication within and

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the earthquake outside of the government and organised emergency


personnel.

Chemical toilets provided for 30,000 Reduces the spread of disease due to sewer damage
residents and water contamination. People in shelters have less
chance of getting ill.

International aid in the form of $6-7 Large amount of money and aid meant that effects
million and relief workers came in were lessened. Aid from international areas means
that the government is trusted and stable, increasing
the aid others are willing to give.

Temporary housing was provided This would be effective in the short term, but houses
need to be built to withstand earthquakes in the long
term to prevent the need for emergency shelters
again.

Water and sewage restored to all people Quick response means disease spread is limited.
in only a few months Shows effectiveness of communications and skill and
education of people to solve major issues in a short
period of time.

Christchurch split into zones: green Shows organisation of the country. Long term
(undamaged), orange (more checks improvements as people are aware of what is going
needed), white (no checks carried out yet) on.
and red (dangerous still).

Roads and houses cleared of silt from Quick response again shows readiness of relief aid and
liquefaction by August and 80% of roads emergency personnel, as well as government
and 50% of footpaths repaired. communications. Areas cleared means that aid can
access easier and repairs can begin quickly.

Montserrat Volcano Case Study

BACKGROUND
Fact

Erupted in July 1995 after being dormant for 400 years. At first it gave off clouds of ash and
steam, then in 1996 it finally erupted.

Montserrat is an LEDC. The island is 12 miles long and 7 miles wide.

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LOCATION DETAILS
Small island in the Caribbean, has been affected by a volcano since 1995. Volcano caused by the
plunging of the South American Plate and North American Plate under the Caribbean Plate.

PRIMARY EFFECTS
Fact

Mudflows and lava flows. Part of the dome collapsed, boiling rocks and ash were thrown out and a
new dome was created.

Ash, steam and rocks were hurled out, forcing all inhabitants to leave the south, the main
agricultural part of the island.

Plymouth, the largest settlement was covered in ash and the population of 4,000 was evacuated.
80% fled.

4km2 of land covered by pyroclastic flow and 2/3 of island covered in ash.

60% of housing destroyed.

Half of all schools and hospitals burnt.

SECONDARY EFFECTS
Fact

50 people had to share a toilet and sewage tanks in the temporary shelters were not emptied for
weeks on end.

All public services had to be moved to the north of the island.

Population fell from 11,000 to 4,500. Most fled to Antigua.

Temporary loss of tourism due to airport closure for 10 years

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RESPONSES
Fact

Northern part of the island redeveloped with new homes, hospitals, creches, upgraded roads,
football pitches and expansion of the island's port.

Population risen to over 5,000

Exclusion zone set up in the volcanic region and a volcanic observatory was built to monitor the
volcano: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO)

Presence of the volcano led to a long term increase in tourism

£41m given in aid by the British Government

Risk assessment undertaken to help islanders understand which areas are at risk and reduce
problems for the future.

Mt Sinabung Volcano Case Study

BACKGROUND

Fact

Destructive plate margin

Composite volcano

LOCATION DETAILS

Located in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, about 40km from the Lake Toba Supervolcano. Indonesia is
located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has some 120 active volcanoes. Sinabung is the most active
there. It erupted in 1600 and it was then dormant until 2010, since when it has been active. Created
by the subduction of the Indo-Australian Plate under the Eurasian Plate. The area surrounding the
volcano is populated due to the fertile plateau that the volcano helped to form.

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PRIMARY EFFECTS

Fact

30,000 evacuated from their homes

25 villages affected

One fatality reported in 2010

Crop failure in 2013 due to ash fall

16 people died in 2014

7 people died in 2016

Pyroclastic flows travelled at much faster speeds due to steep slopes

SECONDARY EFFECTS

Fact

Tourism and sightseeing increased in the area

RESPONSES

Fact

Department of Health provided medicines and doctors to the evacuees

National Disaster Agency provided food and face masks

Kitchens set up, blankets, sleeping mats and tents provided by the government and the Agency

Global geophysical hazard and disaster trends and future projections, including event frequency
and population growth estimates

Mega-disasters:
 An event that kills more than 100,000 people
 There were 3 between 1994 and 2013:
o Asian Tsunami, killed 225,000 in 12 countries
o Cyclone Nargis 2008, killed 138,000 in Myanmar
o Haiti earthquake 2010, killed over 220,000

Disaster trends and future projections:


 Earthquakes and tsunamis are rarer than floods but they can cause very high numbers of
casualties in a short period of time, for example the South Asian tsunami and the Haitian
earthquake
 Urbanisation within highly seismic zones has increased significantly over recent decades.
Slums and squatter settlements frequently expand onto high-risk areas such as slopes and
embankments
 Disastrous outcomes are likely to increase unless improved ways of mitigation, forecasting
and warning, community preparedness and resilience are developed.

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 A likely explanation for the increasing impact of geophysical events is that there are more
people in high-risk areas
 Human activities may be changing the climate and land use, leading to greater impacts of
landslides for example.
 The major occurrences of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes are largely influenced by
tectonic forces which operate over very long timescales. The frequency and intensity of these
features is largely unchanged on a long-term, global scale
 No evidence that the increase in impacts of earthquakes is due to greater frequency and
intensity.
 The concentration of people in large urban areas, combined with environmental
degradation, makes communities more vulnerable to natural hazards
 Environmental degradation can also increase vulnerability. Destruction of mangrove swamps
in Sri Lanka increased the vulnerability of coastal communities to the 2004 Asian Tsunami

Impacts of extreme events:


 Potential impacts include global economic crises, thousands of deaths, destruction of
megacities, environmental refugees, environmental degradation, disruption of global food
supplies, disruption of transport and communications, climate stress and pollution.
 Secondary impacts of these include: famine, disease, political unrest and collapse of social
order.
 The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA): Building the resilience of nations and communities
to disasters claims that significant progress was made by 2010 in disaster risk reduction.
 A VEI 8 eruption has the potential to impact the Earth, however the chances of this are slim.
 Communities can cope better with high-frequency low-magnitude events than low-
frequency high-magnitude events

Identifying areas at risk:


 The mechanisms to communicate the science and the risk is often not communicated
sufficiently to those who needed to know
 It is not possible to predict the exact timing, magnitude and impact of earthquakes, but it is
possible to identify high-risk areas, and mitigate the impacts when an earthquake occurs.

Population growth and urban growth:


 Population expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100
according to the UN.
 Between 2015 and 2050, half of the world's population growth is expected to be
concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, DRC, Ethiopia, Tanzania, USA,
Indonesia and Uganda.
 Concentration of population growth in the poorest countries makes it hard to eradicate
poverty and inequality, hunger and malnutrition and to expand educational enrolment and
health systems and adequate housing.
 The UN DESA's population division reported that:
o More people live in urban areas than rural areas, with 54% in urban areas in 2014.
By 2050 this could rise to 66%.
o More urbanised regions include North America (82%), Latin America and the
Caribbean (80%) and Europe (73%). Africa and Asia remain mostly rural, with 40% and
48% respectively urbanised. Africa and Asia are urbanising faster than the other regions
and are projected to become 56% and 64% urban, respectively, by 2050.
o Continuing population growth an urbanisation are projected to add 2.5 billion
people to the world's urban population by 2050, with nearly 90% of the increase
concentrated in Africa and Asia

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o Close to half of the world's urban dwellers reside in relatively small settlements of
less than 500,000 inhabitants, while only around 1 in 8 live in the 28 megacities that
have more than 10 million inhabitants.

Predictions, forecasts and warnings:


 Main ways of preparing for earthquakes include:
o Better forecasting and warning
o Improved building design and building location
o Establishing emergency procedures
 Predicting and monitoring earthquakes involves the measurement of:
o Small-scale ground surface changes
o Small-scale uplift or subsidence
o Ground tilt
o Changes in rock stress
o Micro-earthquake activity (clusters of small earthquakes)
o Anomalies in the Earth's magnetic field
o Changes in radon gas concentration
o Changes in electrical resistivity of rocks
Instrument Purpose

Seismometers To record micro-earthquakes

Magnetometer To record changes in the Earth's magnetic field

Near-surface seismometer To record larger shocks

Vibroseis truck To create shear waves to probe the earthquake zones

Strain meters To monitor surface deformation

Sensors in wells To monitor changes in groundwater levels

Satellite relays To relay data to the US Geological Survey

Laser survey equipment To measure surface movement

 Parkfield, CA, on the San Andreas fault is monitored by the following instruments:
o Strain meters that measure deformation at a single point
o Two-colour laser geodimeters that measure the slightest movement between
tectonic plates
o Magnetometers that detect alterations in the Earth's magnetic field caused by stress
changes in the crust
 Earthquakes can still occur without warning e.g. the Northridge earthquake which was not
predicted and occurred on a fault that scientists did not know existed
 The seismic gap theory states that over a prolonged period of time all parts of a plate
boundary must move by almost the same amount. Thus if one part of the plate boundary has
not moved and others have, then the part that has not moved is likely to move next.

Earthquake prediction- using animal behaviour:


 Earthquakes release large quantities of carbon monoxide that can affect large deep-sea
creatures like oarfish. The small emissions that occur before major earthquakes could leak
enough of the gas to make the fish sick and beach themselves before dying.

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 When an earthquake occurs, pressure in the rocks builds up which can cause electrically
charged ions to be released into the water. This can lead to the formation of hydrogen
peroxide, which is toxic. This could either kill the fish or force them to leave the deep ocean
and rise to the surface.
 In 1975, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Chinese city of Haicheng. A day before it
happened, city officials evacuated the city based in part on reports of strange animal
behaviour e.g. hibernating snakes in the area abandoned their winter hideouts months before
normal
 In the USA in 2010, animals in the zoo sought shelter or made distress calls in the minutes
before a 5.8 magnitude quake struck the region. Nocturnal snakes like copperheads came out
of hiding, apes moved into the treetops and flamingos huddled together tightly.

Predicting volcanoes:
 Main ways of predicting volcanic eruptions include:
o Seismometers, to record swarms of tiny earthquakes that occur as the magma rises
o Chemical sensors, to measure increased sulphur levels
o Lasers/GPS, to detect the physical swelling of the volcano/crater
o Ultrasound, to monitor low-frequency waves in the magma resulting from the surge
of gas and molten rock
o Observations
 It is not always possible to state exactly when a volcanic eruption will happen
 Difficult to predict the timescale of an eruption. Some volcanoes may erupt for days, while
others go on erupting for years
 In general, volcanoes at destructive plate boundaries tend to produce more explosive
volcanoes, whereas those at hotspots produce more frequent but less explosive eruptions

Geophysical hazard adaptation through increased government planning (land use zoning) and
personal resilience (increased preparedness, use of insurance and adoption of new technology)

Preparedness:
 Land-use zoning is important for adaptation. Different land uses may be prevented from
locations in a zone that is known to be at risk of a hazard. E.g. densely populated buildings,
hospitals and fire services should not be built near a fault line or in areas at risk of landslides
 In some volcanic areas, residents are evacuated, and an exclusion zone may be formed e.g.
at Montserrat
 Building codes can be enforced to ensure that buildings are of an adequate standard to
survive a hazard event
 Nations and the international community are generally not well prepared for rare events.
 One method of preparedness is to take out insurance, however some geophysical events are
considered by the insurance industry as 'Acts of God' and so insurance cover is not available.
Most LIC residents cannot afford insurance. It is also hard to justify spending money on an
event that might not occur. It is far easier to spend money after an event has happened.

Result of lack of preparation in Indonesia:


 2014, Indonesia affected by 2 volcanic eruptions
 February, poor preparedness left communities near Mt Sinabung more vulnerable than
those hit by the much larger Mt Kelud eruption later in the month.
 Nearly 20 people were killed when Mt Sinabung erupted. Less than two weeks later, Mt
Kelud in East Java province ruptured, killing 7.
 More than 130,000 people were displaced.

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 Following the two eruptions, experts questioned whether the country is adequately
prepared to cope with similar events from the dozens of volcanoes that are found near there
 According to the Indonesian national disaster management board, there are around 100
million people living in places that are prone to disasters.
 In East Java, the level of preparedness is good, and many lives were saved in the 2014
eruptions despite the large number of people who live there.
 In contrast, in Sinabung, people were unfamiliar with the behaviour of the volcano because
it had been mostly dormant for hundreds of years.

Volcanic eruption without warning:


 September 2014, Japan's Mt Ontake erupted without warning, spewing ash and rocks. The
bodies of more than 50 hikers were found near the top of the volcano.
 The volcano is around 200km west of Tokyo.
 Japan is one of the world's most seismically active nations- but there have been no fatalities
from volcanic eruptions since 1991, when 43 people died at Mt Unzen in the south-west

Pre-event management strategies for mass movement (to include slope stabilization), earthquakes
and tsunami (to include building design, tsunami defences), volcanoes (to include GPS crater
monitoring and lava diversions)

Managing landslides:
 Methods:
o Terracing of steep slopes to make them more secure
o Drainage reduces the build-up of water in slopes and thereby makes them less likely
to fail
o Restraining structures such as gabions and stone walls keep the failed material
behind the structure
o Erosion control such as rock armour and revetments minimizes the forces acting at
the base of cliffs.
 Principal methods of slope stabilisation:
Approach Methods

Excavation and Remove and replace slipped material


filling

Excavate to unload the slope

Fill to load the slope

Drainage Lead away surface water

Prevent build-up of water in tension cracks

Blanket the slope with free-draining material

Installation of narrow trench drains aligned directly downslope, often


supplemented by shallow drains laid in a herringbone pattern

Installation of interceptor drains above the crest of the side slope to


intercept groundwater

Drilling of horizontal drains into a slope, on a slightly inclined gradient

Construction drainage galleries or adits, from which supplementary

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borings can be made

Installation of vertical drains which drain by gravity through horizontal


drains and adits, by siphoning or pumping

Restraining Retaining walls located under unstable ground


structures

Installation of continuous or closely spaced piles, anchored sheet or


bored pile walls

Soil and rock anchors, generally pre-stressed

Erosion control Control of toe erosion by crib walls, very large boulders, rock armour,
revetments, groynes

Control of surface erosion

Control of seepage erosion by placing inverted filters over the area of


discharge or intercepting the seepage

Miscellaneous Grouting to reduce ingress of groundwater into a slide


methods

Chemical stabilisation by liming at the shear surface, by means of lime


walls

Blasting to disrupt the shear surface and improve drainage

Bridging to carry a road over an active site

Rock traps to protect against falling debris

Managing the risk of earthquakes:


 Ways of reducing earthquake impact include earthquake prediction, building design, flood
prevention and public information
 More than 1/3 of the world's largest and fastest growing cities are located in regions of high
earthquake risk

Building design:
 Single-storey buildings are more suitable than multi-storey as the potential for swaying is
reduced.
 Some tall buildings are built with a 'soft storey' at the bottom, such as a car park raised on
pillars. This collapses in an earthquake, so that the upper floors sink down onto it and this
cushions the impact.
 Basement isolation - mounting the foundations of a building on rubber mounts which allow
the ground to move under the building- is widely used in earthquake prone areas. This isolates
the building from the tremors.
 Building reinforcement strategies include building on foundations built deep into underlying
bedrock, and the use of steel-constructed frames that can withstand shaking.
 Land-use planning is another important way of reducing earthquake risk

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Safe houses:
 In wealthy cities in fault zones, reinforcing buildings to become earthquake-proof is the
norm. Concrete walls are reinforced with steel and some buildings rest on elaborate shock
absorbers. Strict building codes were credited with saving thousands of lives when a
magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit Chile in 2010.
 In LICs, conventional earthquake engineering is often unaffordable. Billions of people live in
houses that cannot withstand shaking. Yet safer houses can be built cheaply using straw,
reinforced adobe and old tyres
 Existing adobe walls can be reinforced with strong plastic mesh under the plaster. In an
earthquake, these walls crack but do not collapse immediately, allowing occupants to escape
 Researchers have successfully tested a concrete house reinforced with bamboo in India.

Controlling earthquakes:
 In theory, by altering the fluid pressure deep underground at the point of greatest stress in
the fault line, a series of small and less damaging earthquake events may be triggered.
 This could release the energy that would otherwise build up to create a major event
 A series of controlled underground nuclear explosions might relieve stress before it reaches
critical levels.

Controlling volcanoes:
 It is possible to manage lava flows by diverting them- successful on Mt Etna. Can be done by
the use of dry channels, explosives to divert the flow near its source or pumping water onto
the lava front to cool it. Successful in Heimaey, Iceland, 1973 but it required pumping over a
six-month period.
 Little can be done to reduce the impacts from pyroclastic flows other than to evacuate the
area

Tsunamis:
 Generally managed through sea walls and early-warning systems
 Cost constraints usually dictate the height of the wall that can be built. They can also only
provide a certain amount of protection and will not stop bigger waves

Post-event management strategies (rescue, rehabilitation, reconstruction), to include the


enhanced use of communications technologies to map hazards/disasters, locate survivors and
promote continuing human development

Short-term, mid-term, and long term responses after an event


 Immediate aftermath - main priority is to rescue people
o May involve use of search and rescue teams and sniffer dogs. Thermal sensors may
be used to find people alive among the wreckage
o Few people survive the after 72 hours
 Rehabilitation refers to people being able to make safe their homes and live in them again.
Following the UK floods of 2007, some people were unable to return to their homes for over a
year
o Can be a long, drawn out process, taking up to a decade for major construction
projects.
o Overall aim is to get communities back to their pre-disaster level, and to promote
continuing human development
 Governments try to plan to reduce impacts of future events. E.g. after the South-Asia
tsunami of 2004, governments and aid agencies in the region developed a system to reduce
the impacts of future tsunamis.

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Rescue, rehabilitation and reconstruction in practice


 Following the 2004 South Asian tsunami, the Indonesian government produced a master
plan for the rehabilitation of the region of the affected region. It defined rescue, rehabilitation
and reconstruction in the following ways:
o Rescue: saving people so they can survive despite having only minimum life
necessities
o Rehabilitation: restoring the functions of public services, a process that needs one or
two years
o Reconstruction: rebuilding the public system, economic system, infrastructure and
governance functions, predicted to take two to five years
 In practice, the Indonesian government provided the following rescue services:
o Immediately helping the disaster survivors
o Immediately burying the victims' dead bodies
o Immediately enhancing basic facilities and infrastructure to be able to provide
adequate services for the victims

Using phones to track missing children:


 RapidFTR is the brainchild of a New York student. It is an open source app designed to
reunite children with their families in disaster situations, and is being actively developed by
UNICEF.
 The app processes information about missing children in disaster situations, and has helped
to reunite families.
 The app enables humanitarian workers to register information about missing children, which
is then uploaded to a database accessible by responsible for child welfare.
 It can be adapted and used by different teams on a range of different platforms. This means
that a range of cases can be tracked over time.

Using phones for hazard mapping:


 Allows information about the scale and location of the hazard to be distributed, and so aid
with hazard mapping.
 In Rio, UNICEF has been training young people to map social and environmental risk. As
many teenagers are competent with their phones, UNICEF believes that they will be able to
alert the authorities about natural hazards and problems, and so initiate a response.

West Bengal Landslides Case Study

 Kalimpong is a hill station located in West Bengal, India.


 Altitude of 1250m overlooking the Teesta River and overlooked by the summit of
Khangchendzonga.
 Dumsi Pakha is an area of comparatively low wealth below the main town. This area shows
how urban mismanagement in steep terrains can lead to landslide problems.
 Dumsi Pakha has a large number of small houses sitting on the side of the steep hill
 Two key elements that cause the problems are poor water management and slope
disruption. Water management on the slopes above Dumsi Pakha is a key factor. In Kalimpong
town, water is discharged without any control into gullies that run through Dumsi Pakha.
 The channel is dry towards the end of the dry season and is choked with garbage. There is
extensive instability on the flanks of the channel. This instability is being exacerbated by the
large flows that the channel has to transport during the monsoon. Small landslides may
threaten houses, while in some cases larger slips are developing on the channel flanks. These

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have the potential to slip into the channel, briefly blocking it and then allowing a catastrophic
debris flow to develop.
 Some houses are built by first creating a terrace by excavating into the slope. By creating this
terrace, a steeper slope is made behind the terrace, and that increases stability.
 Cases of old landslides that have been reactivated as a result of human activity. The
community centre, which was completed in 2002, shows signs of movement
 The people are trying to manage the risks. They have built a retaining wall to try to stabilise
a section of the slope that is particularly hazardous.
 Landslide accidents are inevitable in such settings unless there is better management of the
slopes.
 As the south-west monsoon approaches, the slopes become extremely hazardous. It is not
possible to blast the steep slopes to reduce the hazard, so the only option is to monitor them
and close the road when instability is noted.
 Water management is a serious problem, with a lack of sewers and storm drains. Large
volumes of water flow unregulated into natural channels during heavy rainfall, causing
problems downstream.
 Paddy fields have also been eroded and enlarged as the gullies have been unable to carry
greatly increased storm flows. Erosion in gullies is now triggering extensive landslips.
 Adjacent to the gullies there are slopes that are actively deforming (sliding into the channel)
which will cause further erosion
 Close to the town, the dumping of construction waste in an uncontrolled manner is adding
to the problem. Adding extra weight to the top of an active landslide will inevitably make the
stability problem worse.

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