'impacts from earth hazards owe more to physical factors than human factors' How far do you agree?: essay plan

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`impacts from earth hazards owe more to physical factors than human factors' How far do
you agree? (30 marks) January 2011 essay plan
Earth hazards are hazards that are created by earth processes and these include volcanic
eruptions, earthquakes, flooding, and mass movement. The hazards created by these events
vary depending on the individual hazards but generally include hazards such as risk to human
life, damage to property, and long term economic problems for the affected area. These
hazards are caused by both physical and human factors. However, it is often the case that
human factors can have the greatest impact on the level of risks these hazards pose as they
can determine the extent of the hazard and can multiply the risk. Physical factors would
include the physical processes that are often the initial cause of the hazard and human
factors could include human processes such as urbanisation, lack of understanding, and
political issues.
Caused by physical factors due to tectonics and hotspots, type of lava
Risk increased by human factors, urbanisation causing people to live below a volcano,
fertile land, political issues
Example: Nyiragongo
Overall: human factors
Initial cause is physical due to friction between plates or along fault lines, increased
pressure and sudden release of energy
The actual damage is due to human factors buildings, population density and
urbanisation, level of preparedness
Example: Japan earthquake 2011, Haiti 2010
Overall: human factors
Causes are mixed again initial cause is physical due to intense rainfall, size of river,
relief of land
However, human factors can increase risk such as building on a floodplain exposing to
the risk of flooding, level of quality of defences, urbanisation, building on reclaimed
land that is natural to flood, deforestation
Example: Helston floods, UK floods (somerset levels)
Overall: human but more physical that the other earth hazards
Mass movement

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Causes can be physical such as geological (high rock porosity holding more water
angle of rest (higher leads to higher influence of gravity) climate (precipitation regime
(intensity, amount of rainfall), and vegetation cover (high vegetation cover leads to
less movement)
Increased by human factors such as increased surface run off due to urbanisation,
failure to understand (underestimate) the geology of a slope
Example: Vajont dam, landslides caused by high rainfall in UK winter storms
Overall: initial cause is largely physical but can be made worse…read more


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