The Extent To Which Tectonic Processes Represent Hazard Depends Upon When And Where They Are Experienced (40)

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The extent to which tectonic processes represent a hazard depends upon when and
where they are experienced (40)
A hazard can best be defined as a 'situation that poses a level of threat to life, health,
property or the environment.' The overall impact of earthquakes as a natural hazard varies
greatly from one place and timeframe to another. As do the types of hazards, which are
categorised into primary and secondary. Primary hazards are created by the direct seismic
energy of an earthquake, this could include liquefaction, slope failure and tsunamis. These
primary hazards can in turn trigger secondary hazards such as floods, fires, disease and
destabilisation of infrastructure. A number of factors play a part in determining the severity
of these hazards.
For me the most influential factor is where the tectonic process occurs in relation to the
levels of development of that area. MEDC's tend to cope better with the hazard of
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions than LEDC's because they have all the necessary
resources to survive the effects of these hazards at their disposal. Such as earthquake proof
buildings that are designed to withstand earthquakes by using strong materials such as
reinforced concrete or building special foundations that absorb an earthquakes energy e.g.
the Bank Tower in Los Angeles, California. Construction laws in some earthquake-prone
counties (e.g. Japan and the US) have become stricter in recent years ­ this means that
newer buildings are more likely to be able to withstand earthquakes. Another technique in
order to protect people from the effects of volcanoes is diverting lava away from
settlements using barriers. For example when Mt. Etna erupted in 1983 a rubble barrier 10m
high and 400m long was built on its slopes, which successfully diverted the lava flow.
However, this is only possible where the lava is slow moving and there is sufficient warning,
this often requires high tech equipment to monitor where the lava will be and at what speed
it will be flowing, this is associated with MEDC's . LEDC's on the other hand do not have
these high-tech buildings and laws and therefore the effects are much more detrimental.
This has been seen in Montserrat on 25th June 1997 when 19 people died and seven people
were injured and this was mostly due to the lack of planning and management.
Another influential factor that affects the degree of the hazard is where the epicentre is
closer to a rural or urban area. Rural area tend to cope with earthquakes much better as
there are less buildings that are likely to collapse and rural areas are typically sparsely
populated, therefore a smaller amount of people are likely to be affected by the impacts of
the earthquake. However, rural areas are less likely to have the infrastructure that could cope
with the impacts of a serious earthquake where as cities do, e.g. earthquake buildings. Many
people in rural areas also have less knowledge of the impacts of earthquakes and may not
know how to respond during or after the quake. In densely populated urban areas such as
L'Aquila, Italy the affects of earthquakes can be much more detrimental as gas pipes can
burst, habitats can be lost and thousands of buildings can be damaged. These in turn can

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L'Aquila 70,000 people were made homeless
and the bursting of gas pipes resulted in the spread of fire across the city, causing more
damage.
Time of day can also affect the outcome of a tectonic hazard. If a volcanic eruption occurs
over night the level of danger is often increased as most people are asleep and react a lot
slower.…read more

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