A2 Plate tectonics - Case study comparison

Case studies on the 2010 Haiti earhtquake and 2010 Christchurch earthquake and a comparison

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  • Created on: 13-12-12 09:11
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Earthquake comparison:
Haiti vs. Christchurch
Haiti earthquake
The Haitian earthquake occurred on January 12th 2010 at 16:53. The magnitude of the earthquake
was 7.0 on the Richter scale and was 13km deep. This is a particularly shallow earthquake and led to
the earthquake being felt on the surface more than if the earthquake was deeper. The earthquake
lasted for 1 minute and was only 15 miles away from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The seismic
waves started at a fault line that was 10km in length.
Haiti sits between the Caribbean and North
American plates, and is in a very tectonically
active zone of our planet. Haiti itself is on a
strike slip fault that runs off a destructive
plate margin to the north of the Island of
Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the
Dominican Republic.
In 1755 there was a large earthquake event
that was followed just 15 years later by an
even larger event. This phase in seismic
activity moved west towards Jamaica,
causes large amounts of damage.
Geologists are concerned that this
earthquake could be the start of another phase of seismic events moving west again towards
Jamaica causing large scale damage.
The earthquake struck only 15 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, which is home to 2 million
people. Many areas of Port-au-Prince are constructed upon unstable soils which resulted in the
seismic waves being amplified causing intense shaking and liquefaction. This effect was particularly
evident within the Port area of the capital which suffered from lateral spreading and land falling into
the sea. Haiti is also the poorest country in the western hemisphere with a highly vulnerable
population due to certain factors:
38% of the population are under 14
Infant Mortality is 60/1000
Life expectancy was just 60
GDP was only £808
80% of the population lived below the poverty line and
53% were literate
In 2008, Paul Mann wrote a report saying that an earthquake could happen in the area, and that the
damage caused be catastrophic. However, Haiti does not have the resources to respond to the
warnings and improve their ability to respond to an earthquake.

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The building quality in Haiti is poor and not all supporting structures were built to standard with steel
reinforcements missing to save money. This poor standard of building was the main loss of life. The
people of Haiti were so poor that they had few reserves, meaning they had little food and money, to
draw on after the earthquake. In the slum of Cité de Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, at least 500,000 people
live in abject poverty, these people were the worst affected.…read more

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There was a
localised Tsunami as a result of this change that killed 7 people.
Once the earthquake had passed, individuals began trying to recover their belongings from the
collapsed buildings. Scientists flocked to the area to gather scientific data about the earthquake and
to see what future risks may be present. The aid effort within Haiti was almost non-existent as its
institutions had been destroyed and they did not have the necessary resources to cope with such a
large disaster.…read more

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The initial earthquake that occurred in New Zealand was known as the Darfield earthquake. On
September 4th 2010 an earthquake struck just 6 miles South East of Christchurch. The earthquake had
a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter scale and 25miles west of Christchurch. The earthquake was only
10km deep which enhanced the effect of the earthquake as the vibrations began near the surface.
The peak ground acceleration for this particular event was 1.26g.…read more

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Areas of the city centre were shut off as the buildings were unstable and
damage could cause the buildings to collapse or an aftershock could cause more damage. Some
buildings were not totally destroyed but would have to be rebuilt as the buildings structure was
weakened due to shape alterations such as slumping.…read more

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Short term responses to this aftershock dealt with the issues that were immediate. People were
secured from dangerous buildings to reduce deaths from falling buildings. As the sewage system
was damaged, chemical toilets were provided to 30,000 residents to cover the loss. Areas were
classified into coloured zones, green, orange, white and red to classify the damage and cost of the
repairs. International aid was provided including £3.7million in aid and aid workers.…read more

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Case Study Haiti Christchurch
15 miles from Port-au-Prince 25 miles west of Christchurch
When? January 12th 2010 at 16:53 September 4th 2010 at 04:35
Magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale 7.1 on the Richter scale
Depth 10km 13km
Peak ground 0.5g 1.…read more

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Roads and paths were repaired
EU gave £204.8million to £3.…read more


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