A2 Geography: Haiti Earthquake Report

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Examine the causes of the Haiti Earthquake
On Tuesday the 12th January 2010 a magnitude 7 earthquake which had a duration of 45
seconds hit the very poor LDC of Haiti. By the 24th January at least 52 after shocks had been
recorded, all measuring 4.5 or greater. The epicentre was only 25km away from the densely
populated capital city ­ Port-au-Prince
(see map.) Although there are 30-40
magnitude 7 earthquakes a year (USGS)
this earthquake soon spiralled into a
mega-disaster. This is mainly due to the
large vulnerability of the country i.e.
cheap building construction, poverty and
corruption, and low coping capacity i.e.
lack of technology and preparedness.
There is a huge toxic cocktail of human
factors exacerbating the risk.
Movement along the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plate caused the
quake. This is a conservative plate margin where the two plates are moving side by side. It
occurred on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault that separates the Gonave micro-plate from
the Caribbean plate. The fault was "locked up" for 250 years, tension slowly built up and a
sudden strike-slip failure caused the quake.
It was a very shallow focus quake ­only 13km below the earth's surface and therefore there
was very severe ground shaking. The released energy was concentrated when it reached
Port-au-Prince. The transform nature of the fault explains why the earthquake foci was so
shallow unlike quakes at destructive plate margins, which often occur deep below the
surface. The huge intensity was also caused by the predominant composition of recent
sedimentary rocks that are more prone to shaking than older, harder, more consolidated
rocks.
Examine the impacts of the Haiti Earthquake
There are many environmental, social and economic
impacts caused by the 2010 quake, many of which
are still affecting Haitians today, 3 years after
the event. The quakes epicentre was only 25km
away from the densely populated `shanty
town' city of Port-au-Prince and out of the 3.5
million people affected by the disaster,
2.8million of them lived in the capital. The
government estimates that 222,570 people
died and 300,572 were injured. The majority of
the deaths were caused by the pan-caking of

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­ the sprawling shanty towns were built on marginal land and due to little building
regulations they were very poorly built, meaning they could not withstand the quake, falling
on everyone that was inside a building. 2.3 million people were driven out of their homes and
over 180,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, with 1.5 million people left homeless.
Many notable buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed including the presidential
palace, the national assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral and an important United
Nations building.…read more

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All of this was disrupted by the earthquake
­ further setting back the Haitian economy.
The physical consequences include a large amount of lateral and vertical offset caused by
severe ground shaking along the fault lines. The general pattern was a bulging up to the
North of the faults and subsidence to the South. This meant that most of the southern
coast of Haiti retreated back 100 metres. Alternatively, some coral reefs bulged up, breaking
the tropical ocean surface, and hence, destroying the corals.…read more

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However, the logistics of
distributing aid was a nightmare, and problems were compounded by damaged roads and
broken lines. The USA were one of the main sources of contributing to the immediate
response (see pie chart), the USA have had a history of involvement in Haiti both politically
and through aid efforts. The secretary of state Hillary Clinton pledged further long-term
assistance to rebuild the shattered country.…read more

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UN stated that it continues to provide and coordinate wide-scale
humanitarian assistance in response to the 12 January 2010 earthquake and cholera
epidemic. Donors have pledged $10 billion at the UN donors' conference to make a
difference in the lives of suffering Haitians and almost 90 per cent of the $4.6 billion pledged
for 2010 and 2011 is coming through for those who need it.…read more

Comments

Mr A Gibson

If you have a question that requires a detailed LEDC case study then this is for you. A very readable and informative document with all the info you need to hit the high mark levels in the longer questions.

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