Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

KS3 Geography - Tectonic Hazards: Disaster Management

A guide to tectonic hazards for your Year 9 course, compiled by your Librarians.

Disaster Management - Senior Library collection

Nature's fury [videorecording]

Looks at the power and unpredictability of natural disasters : earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Concentrates on the Loma Prieta earthquake, the preapredness level of Japan for an earthquake, Hurricane andrew, and the Mississippi floods of 1993. Looks at efforts to improve prediction of such natural events.

Natural Disasters

This series poses the questions children often ask about their world and then offers the science solutions that are interesting, approachable and well-taught. This book teaches about the natural disasters, from earthquakes, to tornadoes and floods and volcanoes using Q&A format, timelines, and "Try This" activities. Both highly visual and engaging, it will assist in the easy understanding of some complex concepts and processes.

Natural disasters

Natural Disasters details the most catastrophic events that have shocked the world since history began. These are events that people have no control over - the sheer power of monster waves, booming avalanches and raging bushfires. Discover how rescue teams operate, and how experts try to predict and prevent disaster.

Forces of Nature

Teaming up with The Weather Channel to answer ALL of your questions about weather- everything and how to survive! Forces of Nature will answer ALL of your questions about weather- everything from thunderous storms to earthquakes, blizzards, hurricanes, and more!

Countdown to disaster : the world in danger!

The world is in danger! From gigantic eruptions to asteroid collisions natural disasters have the power to devastate life on Earth. Find out why these disasters occur, what effects they have on our surroundings and how likely each disaster is to strike again. Find out what we are doing to avoid disasters in the future, and how people are learning to live with the threat of an earthquake or volcano on their doorstep.

Surviving Natural Disasters

Ancient legends are full of heroes. But heroes also exist in real life. They may not fight dragons, but their challenges can be just as awesome. In Real Life Heroes, we look at true stories of courage and heroism in the face of persecution, disaster, addiction, and disease.

Factors that Affect Response to Hazards

If the tectonic hazard is a common occurrence then people will be more aware that building planning, precautions and evacuation policies need to be put into place. However if for example a volcano has been dormant for 500 years, or in a generation’s lifetime an earthquake as not taken place then people will not be prepared to cope with the hazard and this will cause the impacts to be particularly devastating.

Tectonic hazards are very specific in the location. People live in plate boundaries need to be more prepared for potential hazards. Also, population density can affect the impacts of hazards. Hazards can be a devastating phenomenon when they hit urban areas. Their effect can be greatly reduced in rural areas. For earthquakes, distance from the epicentre is also crucial to hazard damages.

The economy costs for loss of human lives and assets, recovery and restoration from the hazards. Reconstruction can take many years .

Night time hazards can make it more difficult for people to response. However, there are few people on the street, in public buildings and at work.

Well trained rescue teams can reduce the impact of earthquakes

Well trained rescue teams can reduce the impact of earthquakes

Good emergency services and communication links means people can be rescued quickly. Education, training and practice will enable people to be aware of what precautions should be undertaken and how best they should respond after the event, such as ensuring a clean water supply to minimise disease spreading and effecting the economy.

Areas where there is greater economic development are more equipped to deal with the hazards. They are more technologically advanced to forecast hazards and build earthquake proof buildings. People in wealthy areas are more likely to have insurance plans to help them recover from the disaster. Poorer areas are much more vulnerable to hazards. They often rely on aid and outside help after a disaster and this can make the impacts more severe i.e. the economy can not cope and reconstruction takes a lot longer, plus facilities such as hospitals might not be equipped.

Prediction and Preparation


(Source: s-cool.co.uk)

Types of Hazards Prediction Preparation
Earthquakes
  • Laser beams can be used to detect plate movement.
  • A seismometer is used to pick up the vibrations in the Earth's crust. An increase in vibrations may indicate a possible earthquake.
  • Radon gas escapes from cracks in the Earth's crust. Levels of radon gas can be monitored - a sudden increase may suggest an earthquake.
  • People living in earthquake zones need to know what they should do in the event of a quake. Training people may involve holding earthquake drills and educating people via TV or radio.
  • People may put together emergency kits and store them in their homes. An emergency kit may include first-aid items, blankets and tinned food.
  • Buildings need to be constructed as earthquake-proof to absorb the energy of an earthquake and to withstand the movement of the Earth.
  • Roads and bridges can also be designed to withstand the power of earthquakes.
Volcanoes Mornitoring warning signs including small earthquakes, temperatures and gas released around volcanoes.
  • Creating an exclusion zone around the volcano
  • Being ready and able to evacuate residents
  • Having an emergency supply of basic provisions, such as food
  • Funds need to be available to deal with the emergency and a good communication system needs to be in place
Tsunamis Monitoring activities that may trigger tsunamis such as under sea earthquakes, landslides, etc.. Set up Tsunami Warning Centers such as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) to warn people before tsunami strikes.

Case Studies

 

Six weeks after the Haiti shock, Chile was struck by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake. It was 500 times more powerful than the Haiti quake, yet killed less than 1% of the Haitian total. Why was the Haiti earthquake so destructive? Some of the reasons are listed here:

Building Codes

Very few of Haiti’s buildings were constructed for earthquake resistance. An absence of building codes combined with a deficit of licensed contractors, engineers and architects contributed to a structural environment ripe for disaster.

 

Construction Materials

The walls of 90% of Haitian buildings are constructed with either cement, earth, clisse (“sticks, twigs and branches”), bricks or stone. Contractors and builders often cut corners in construction, reducing costs by using easily available building materials such as limestone dust and unrefined sand, which produce a cheaper but weaker concrete.

Fault Lines

Haiti is located next to a geological fault zone that scientists have long termed “a major seismic hazard” to the population. 

Population Density & Urbanization

Before the earthquake, half of Haiti’s population of 10 million lived in densely populated urban areas, including one in four Haitians residing in Port-au-Prince. This population density around the earthquake’s epicenter meant that an incredible half of the country’s residents were directly impacted by the quake. 

Earthquake Proof Buildings

"It was the buildings, not the earthquake, that killed 220,000 people, that injured 330,000, that displaced 1.3 million people, that cut off food and water and supplies for an entire nation.”

Construction techniques can have a huge impact on the death tolls from earthquakes. Thedifference betwen Chile and Haiti earthquake death tolls comes from building construction and technology. In Haiti, the buildings were constructed quickly and cheaply. Chile, a richer and more industrialized nation, adheres to more stringent building codes. Here is a video that shows how a large shake platform can be used to test a full-scale structure in response to the motion of an earthquake.

Thanks to new technologies and testing methods, some of today's largest buildings can stay safe in a quake without compromising their size or aesthetic design. In fact, to attain their great height, many of the world's largest buildings utilize architectural elements that also protect them in case of disaster. Innovatively constructed and safely designed, here are the seven largest earthquake-proof buildings in the world. 

Why can damage can be so severe?

   Six weeks after the Haiti shock, Chile was struck by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake. It was 500 times more powerful than the Haiti quake, yet killed less than 1% of the Haitian total. Why was the Haiti earthquake so destructive? Some of the reasons are listed here:

Building Codes

Very few of Haiti’s buildings were constructed for earthquake resistance. An absence of building codes combined with a deficit of licensed contractors, engineers and architects contributed to a structural environment ripe for disaster.

Construction Materials

The walls of 90% of Haitian buildings are constructed with either cement, earth, clisse (“sticks, twigs and branches”), bricks or stone. Contractors and builders often cut corners in construction, reducing costs by using easily available building materials such as limestone dust and unrefined sand, which produce a cheaper but weaker concrete. 

Fault Lines

Haiti is located next to a geological fault zone that scientists have long termed “a major seismic hazard” to the population. 

Population Density & Urbanization

Before the earthquake, half of Haiti’s population of 10 million lived in densely populated urban areas, including one in four Haitians residing in Port-au-Prince. This population density around the earthquake’s epicenter meant that an incredible half of the country’s residents were directly impacted by the quake. 

Disaster Management

It's not possible to prevent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. However, careful management of these hazards can minimise the damage that they cause. Prediction is the most important aspect of this, as this gives people time to evacuate the area and make preparations for the event.

Measuring Damage of Hazards

 

The damages caused by tectonic hazards are mainly measured in the following areas:

People

The death tolls and the number of injured and displaced people caused by the hazards.


Economy

The economy costs for loss of human lives and assets, recovery and restoration from the hazards. Reconstruction can take many years .


Environment

The loss of vegetation and habitats from natural environment, pollution to water & air, etc.. Sometimes volcano ash can wipe out all of the environmental features.

Impact on LEDCs and MEDCs

Map of LEDCs and MEDCs

 

Tectonic hazards will have different effects on More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) and Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs).  Hazards in LEDCs are usually more deadly and impactful than in MEDCs. The differences can be categorized as: 

  LEDCs MEDCs
Health Care Often have to rely on aid from overseas as their health system, which is inadequate. This overseas aid takes time to arrive, which could mean far more casualties. Have the medical resources and money to quickly get appropriate aid to areas after a natural disaster. 
Emergency Services Often do not have these emergency plans, and so far (as seen in TURKEY) more damage can be done before the emergency services reach the stricken area. In countries like Japan and New Zealand,  there are well thought out emergency procedures. Practices in schools and places of work mean that people know what to do it the event of a natural disaster. The Government's and military have special emergency plans to help with the situation.
Building Technology Don't tend to have the technology available or money to pay for it, and their buildings are very vulnerable to earthquakes. Countries such as Japan and the United States have been at the fore front of developing buildings that have more chance of resisting an earthquake.
Scientific Prediction Less investment for this type of research and development. Have more investment for monitoring and research.
Recovery Usually have to rely on aid from overseas, quick recovery is often impossible for them. Tend to be able to recover quickly from the hazards, due to having the insurance, investment and technology needed.

   Cost of earthquakes

 

The  above figure shows the reconstruction cost of recent earthquakes compared to the number of people killed in these earthquakes. The dashed line has a slope of 100 deaths per billion dollars and acts as a divide between countries with low per capita income from those that are wealthy.

Prediction and preparation for tectonic hazards

(Source: s-cool.co.uk)

Type of hazards Prediction Preparation
Earthquakes
  • Laser beams can be used to detect plate movement.
  • A seismometer is used to pick up the vibrations in the Earth's crust. An increase in vibrations may indicate a possible earthquake.
  • Radon gas escapes from cracks in the Earth's crust. Levels of radon gas can be monitored - a sudden increase may suggest an earthquake.
  • People living in earthquake zones need to know what they should do in the event of a quake. Training people may involve holding earthquake drills and educating people via TV or radio.
  • People may put together emergency kits and store them in their homes. An emergency kit may include first-aid items, blankets and tinned food.
  • Buildings need to be constructed as earthquake-proof to absorb the energy of an earthquake and to withstand the movement of the Earth.
  • Roads and bridges can also be designed to withstand the power of earthquakes.
Volcanoes Mornitoring warning signs including small earthquakes, temperatures and gas released around volcanoes.
  • Creating an exclusion zone around the volcano
  • Being ready and able to evacuate residents
  • Having an emergency supply of basic provisions, such as food
  • Funds need to be available to deal with the emergency and a good communication system needs to be in place
Tsunamis Monitoring activities that may trigger tsunamis such as under sea earthquakes, landslides, etc.. Set up Tsunami Warning Centers such as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) to warn people before tsunami strikes.