Physical Geog- Tectonics

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Kobe, Japan, 1995 (MEDC)

On 17th January 1995, an earthquake struck Kobe, a heavily populated urban area in Japan. It measured 7.4 on the Richter scale and occurred as a result of plate movement along the boundary between the Philippines Plate, Pacific Plate and Eurasian Plate.


Primary effectsSecondary effects

35000 people injured.

Buildings and bridges collapsed despite their earthquake proof design.

Buildings destroyed by fire when the gas mains fractured.

316000 people left homeless and refugees moved into temporary housing.

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Kobe, Japan, 1995 (MEDC)


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Chances Peak, Montserrat, 1995-97 - an LEDC

Montserrat is a small island in the Caribbean. There is a volcanic area located in the south of the island on Soufriere Hills called Chances Peak. Before 1995 it had been dormant for over 300 years. In 1995 the volcano began to give off warning signs of an eruption (small earthquakes and eruptions of dust and ash). Once Chances Peak had woken up it then remained active for five years. The most intense eruptions occurred in 1997.

During this time, Montserrat was devastated by pyroclastic flows. The small population of the island (11,000 people) was evacuated in 1995 to the north of Montserrat as well as to neighbouring islands and the UK.

Despite the evacuations, 19 people were killed by the eruptions as a small group of people chose to stay behind to watch over their crops.

Volcanic eruptions and lahars have destroyed large areas of Montserrat. The capital, Plymouth, has been covered in layers of ash and mud. Many homes and buildings have been destroyed, including the only hospital, the airport and many roads.

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Chances Peak, Montserrat, 1995-97 - an LEDC

Short-term responses and results

  • Evacuation.
  • Abandonment of the capital city.
  • The British government gave money for compensation and redevelopment.
  • Unemployment rose due to the collapse of the tourist industry.

Long-term responses and results

  • An exclusion zone was set up in the volcanic region.
  • A volcanic observatory was built to monitor the volcano.
  • New roads and a new airport were built.
  • Services in the north of the island were expanded.
  • The presence of the volcano resulted in a growth in tourism.
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Mount St Helens 1980 (MEDC)

Mount St Helens is on the plate boundary between the Juan de Fuca plate and North American plate. When it erupted it permanently changed the surrounding landscape

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Mount St Helens 1980 (MEDC)

Short-term responses and results

  • Communications such as roads and bridges were repaired.
  • People were rehoused.

Long-term responses and results

  • Soil fertility improved due to the ash deposits.
  • The volcano is now more carefully monitored.
  • Tourism has increased, boosting the local economy.
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