Hazardous Earth Case Studies

Iceland- Eyjafjallajokul Eruption

Background Info - occured March/ April 2010 on a constructive plate boundary between the North American plate and the Eurasion Plate. Population evacuated was 700. Over 10 million affected in total. Total cost of eruption - $1.7 million. 1 in 3 that evacuated didn't return. Migartion of young people, tourist work is seasonal, trying to make seasons longer through adding geoparks.

Why live near volcanoes - Eyjafjallajokul has good fertile farmland- people grow **** seed on it. Geothermal energy provides hot water and electricity. Volcano shelters from wind and is a nice view. Tourism boosts economy.

Mitigation Strategies (Disaster Preparedness) - give people advanced warnings and practice evacuation process. Have a local civil defence force with good equipment, training and plans. GPS monitoring stations can detect changes in land.

Building Resilience - ash cloud mapping> can pinpoint exact area and where volcano will travel so flights can occur in places that are safe (over 100000 were cancelled due to ash). Building levees and banks to reduce flooding. Make river channel deeper- floodwater will travel quicker down to sea. 1 cubic metre of lava is cooled by 1 cubic metre of water- cool lava and create a dam.

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Montserrat 1997 Eruption

Background Information - occured in June 1997. Volcano is called Soufriere Hills and became active in 1995. In the eruption (1997) large amount of pyroclastic flow was released travellng at speeds of 120km/hr. 19 people were killed and hundreds made homeless. Southern part of Montserrat was declared an exclusion zone. 9000 migrated internationally. Monserrat lies on a subduction zone (DESTRUCTIVE PLATE BOUNDARY) the North Atlantic plate subducted underneath the Caribbean plate.

Migration - 9000 migrated internationally. 3000 went to neighbouring island Antigua. 4000 went to the UK. 2000 went to the USA.

Long Term Impacts - only a small population left- 4900 as of 2012. Now experiencing regeneration through tourism to see volcano. British Government funded (£56 million) for a project North of the island to build 1000 new homes. Ash has made the soil fertile. New capital set up in the North in Little Bay, it has a port and an airport (airport was destroyed by volcano and noone could access flights to and from the island until 2005).

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Japan 2011 Earthquake


  • Background Info - occured on March 11th 2011 when the pacific plate subducted under the Oknotsk plate. Epicentre depth of 24km. Magnitude of 9.0. Earthquake lasted 5 minutes (long time) and caused a tsuanami.
  • Economic Impacts - cost of earthquake was $181 billion. 46,000 buildings destroyed, 114,000 damaged. 4.4 million households and 1000s of businesses lost electricity. Transport infrastructure damaged- 23 train stations swept away. Japan's stock market fell.
  • Social Impacts - claimed 16,000 lives and injured 6000. 90% of deaths due to drowning. Destruction of morgues- bodies not traditionally buried. 2000 young people left orphaned or lost one parent. Destruction of infrastructure.
  • Political Impacts - a large popular movement against nuclear power developed after the earthquake. Increased government debt at time when reduction was a political aim. Political fallout due to nuclear accident, e.g. anti-nuclear lobbying in Germany.
  • Primary and Secondary Hazards - ground shaking (P), tsuanami (P), fires (S), liquifaction (S), flooding (S).
  • Management strategies - detection equipment sent warnings of earthquake within seconds. Automatic shutdown of nuclear generators. Tsuanami sea defences = 10m high sea walls, regular tsuanami drills, 5.6m defence wall around nuclear power plant.
  • Effectiveness of Strategies - earthquake didn't damage nuclear power plant (good), warning systems (good), tsuanami breached Ofunato's coastal defences (bad), few people killed by earthquake- buildings stayed standing (good).
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Haiti 2010 Earthquake

  • Physical Factors - earthquake had a magnitude of 7. No surface rupture. Earthquake occured on the Enriquillo fault. Focus was at depths of 2-8km. The epicentre was at Leogane, 15km south-west from Port-au-Prince (the captial). Strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude occured.
  • Short-Medium Term Impacts - 250,000 injured, 220,000 killed. 1.5 million were made homeless, forcing 800,000 to live in refugee camps. The capital's main port was destroyed. 300,000 buildings collapsed. Police and government in chaos due to lots of looting. Phone lines foiled after the earthquake. Only 3 out of 450 refugee camps had potable water.
  • Actions taken to build resilience:
  • Micro-credit Schemes= NGOs give small loans in order to help people set up their own businesses so people can be economically independent.
  • Improvements to Buildings= government and NGOs have been training people to build stone homes. New settlements (quake resistant housing) built away from Port-au-Prince.
  • Crop Trials= NGOs work with farmers to increase yield trying different farming methods. Funded a series of rice mills so rice can be processed locally.
  • Land Redistribution= agrarium reform. Land needs to be owned in order to attract long term investment. Government doesn't know who owns what land.
  • Intermediate Technology= improving access to clean drinking water. New pumps installed. Can easily be maintained. Work to educate young people on hygiene.
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Examples of Managing Hazards 1

Italy - AC =

  • Modifying Event - has had some local-scale success with slowing lava flows from Etna. Channels were dug to divert flowing lava away.
  • Modifying Vulnerability - the work of CFCRV (Volcanic risk service) = long term analysis of eruption patterns of individual volcanoes, closure of airports and air space were threatened by ash. Constant monitoring and international comparison with similar eruptions elsewhere.
  • Modifying Loss - Italy has well trained public services, timely evacuations and evacuation rehearsals. Even so, livestock have been destored in recent decades.

Indonesia - EDC =

  • Modifying Vulnerability - Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) was established in 1920. More than 60 volcanoes are monitored today. Indonesia has established a National Agency for Disaster Management (CVGHM) that works with local governments on mitigation strategies. Mount Merapi, people have beem asked to relocate to safe zones.
  • Modifying Loss - Resources deployed after an eruption are limited. Well equipped emergency services which includes the military. Temporary shelters in safe zones have beem built. Authorities have cleared river channels- reduces risk of flooding.
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Examples of Managing Hazards 2

Nepal - LIDC =

  • Modifying Vulnerability - the National Society for Earthquake Technology and Disaster Preparedness Network are Nepalise NGOs which aim to map the high risk 'shake zones', building codes introduced, education programmes, organising an Annual Earthquake Awareness Day.
  • Modifying Loss - 330 humanitarian agencies were involved in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. Including UN, EU, British Red Cross and Christian Aid.
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