Restless Earth Case Studies

Case Studies for Earthquakes, (Super)Volcanoes, Fold Mountains, Tsunamis and Plate Boundaries

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  • Created by: James
  • Created on: 21-05-11 10:28

Kobe Earthquake (MEDC)

  • 17th January 1995, 5.46am
  • Phillipines Plate (oceanic) shifted beneath the Eurasian Plate (continental) along the Nojima faultline, beneath Kobe
  • Destructive Margin
  • This collision of plates led to an earthquake measuring 7.2 on Richter Scale.
  • Tremors lasted for 20 seconds
  • 6434 dead (P)                                      
  • 40,000 seriously injured (P)                     
  • 300,000 homeless - tents in streets, blankets as homes etc. (P) (S)
  • 2 million people were without electricity (S)
  • Gas mains ruptured - Fires enfulged city - destroyed port etc - no aid access (P)
  • Water pipes burst - no water for 10 days (P) (S)
  • Elevated roads collapsed - difficult for emergency aid (P)
  • Railway lines buckled - little transport between Osaka and Kobe (P)
  • Financial impact: damaged = >$220 billion (S)

          (P) = Primary        (S) = Secondary

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Responses to Kobe Earthquake


  • Evacuation to temporary shelters
  • Search parties look for survivors
  • Hospitals treated the injured
  • Motorola maintained phone connections for free
  • Bulldozers cleared fallen buildings - more space for emergency aid to arrive
  • Most railway connections operating within a month of the disaster

Long Term

  • Port was back in operation within a year
  • Roads were repaired (or rebuilt)
  • New buildings built to'earthquake proof' spec, in place of old fallen ones
  • Japanese now practice a mass-scale earthquake drill every year
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Sichaun Earthquake, China (LEDC)

  • 12th May 2008, 2.26pm
  • Indian Plate (oceanic) collided with the Eurasian Plate (continental) along the Longmenshan faultline, beneath Sichaun
  • Collision Margin
  • This collision of plates led to an earthquake measuring 7.9 on Richter Scale.
  • Tremors lasted for 120 seconds
  • 69,000 dead (P)                                      
  • 374,000 seriously injured (P)                     
  • 5 million homeless (P) 
  • 5 million buildings collapsed (P)
  • One school which collapsed killed 900 pupils - the Juyan school (P)
  • No land or mobile phones worked (S)
  • Roads were blocked by landslides - no emergency aid access
  • Some rivers were blocked by landslides - fears of flooding (P) (S)
  • Financial impact: damaged = $75 million (S)

          (P) = Primary        (S) = Secondary

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Responses to Sichaun Earthquake


  • For the first 30 hours after the disaster, access was impossible
  • 20 helicopters were assigned for rescue and relief efforts
  • Troops parachuted or hiked in to assess the situation
  • 3.3 million tents were needed - production was ordered to speed up
  • Donations to the Red Cross exceeded £100 million in a fortnight

Long Term

  • 1 million temporary homes were to be built, aiming to be finished in 2011
  • The Chinese Government pledged a $10 million rebuilding fund
  • Banks wrote off debts owed by survivors who didn't have insurance
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Yellowstone Supervolcano, Wyoming, USA

  • Yellowstone Supervolcano (also called a caldera) is 40 miles long and 20 miles wide

How do we know it is active?

  • Geothermal activity
  • Hot Springs
  • Geisers

How do calderas form?

  • Magma builds up, which causes a massive eruption, then the caldera is formed when the chamber collapses

What impact would an eruption have?

  • US covered in an ash cloud
  • Mass sulfur dioxide clouds cover the globe
  • average drop of temperature = 5'C
  • Apocalypse due to temperature drop, ash suffocation, sulfur poisoning, mass food shortage 
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Yellowstone Supervolcano - Eruption Patterns

Eruptions so far...

2,000,000 years ago

1,200,000 years ago

600,000 years ago

The pattern...

every 600,000 years

The next eruption...

Because the pattern is every 600,00 years and the last eruption was 600,000 years ago, Yellowstone can erupt any time now. Also, in recent years, it has shown signs of increased volcanic activity, like larger geisers, more magma visible deep underground and warmer rocks on the surface.

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Shield Volcano - Mauna Lao, Hawaii

Shield Volcanoes

  • Enormous features
  • Built up from only layers of lava and ash
  • Non-violent eruptions
  • Frequent eruptions of basic lava
  • Gentle Slopes
  • Wide Base
  • Lava flows easily
  • Lava travels further before cooling

Mauna Loa

  • 250 miles wide
  • 10,000 metres high
  • Largest volcano in the region
  • Situated in Hawaii, an island made of volcanoes
  • Whole region of islands are made up of volcanoes
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Composite Cone Volcano


  • Parasitic Cone
  • Crater
  • Dyke
  • Built from ash layers
  • Steep sided, symmetrical cone shape


  • Erupts violently - has devestating effects
  • Lahar
  • Pyroclastic Flow
  • Ash Fall
  • Lava Flow
  • Volcanic Bombs
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Eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano - Montserrat

  • July 18th 1995 (eruption still going, on a much smaller scale)
  • Began showing signs of erupting in the early 1990's
  • 2/3 of the island was covered in ash (P)
  • 50% of the population were evacuated to the north of the island to live in makeshift shelters (S)
  • 23 people died in 1977 (S)
  • Plymouth - the capital - became a ghost town (S)
  • Floods due to valleys being blocked by ash (S)
  • Airport was closed (S)
  • Port was closed (S)
  • Farmland was destroyed (S)
  • Forest fires caused by pyroclastic flow (P)
  • Volcanic bombs and Lahar (P)

          (P) = Primary             (S) = Secondary

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Response to Eruption at Montserrat

  • The island is split up into three zones. The volcano is also constantly monitored at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.


  • Area with significantly lower risk, suitable for residential and commercial occupation


  • Residential area only. All residents on heightened state of alert. All residents must have rapid means of exit 24 hours a day. All residents must wear hard hats and dust masks

Exclusion (2/3 of the island):

  • No admittance except for scientific monitoring and National Security Measures.
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Benefits of Volcanoes - Southern Italy

  • Fertile Soil
  • Hot Springs
  • Geothermal Power
  • Tourism - boosts economy
  • Scenery
  • Jobs - Volcanology, Geology etc.
  • Mining
  • Fertility - Lava weathers to form fertile land
  • Mining - Rich veins of precious minerals
  • Electricity - Hot springs or cold water pumped down to hot rocks
  • Tourism - Landscape, active volcanoes, historic eruptions
  • Construction - Volcanic rocks are hard, therefore, good building material

Southern Italy

  • Fertile land good for tomatoes, vines, maize etc. Yields 5x more than average
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List of other famous volcanoes

  • Mt. Krakatoa (Indonesia)
  • Mt. St. Helens (USA)
  • Mt. Etna (Sicily)
  • Mt. Fuji (Japan)
  • Mt. Teide (Tenerife)
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
  • Mt. Vesuvius (Italy)
  • Mt. Mauna Loa

(all Stratovolcanoes except Mt. Mauna Loa)

Recent Eruptions

  • Mt Etna (April 2010)
  • Eyjafjallajokull (Iceland) (2010)
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Fold Mountains - The Andes - Uses

The Andes is a range of young fold mountains in South America. The mountains are young because they were formed less than 65 million years ago. It is the largest rnage of fold mountains in the world and extends the length of South America. They have an average peak height of 4,000km.


  • Subsistence farming grows potatoes, the staple food up in the mountains, soybeans, rice and cotton.
  • Terraces are used for farming on. These are steep cuts into the hillside to create flat areas of land
  • The flat areas retain the little water they recieve because it can't run off the surface.


  • Andean countries are among the most important for mining. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Peru provide important minerals such as tin, gold, silver and nickel.
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Other uses of the Andes


  • The steep slopes and narrow valleys that limit farming are an advantage for HEP
  • They can be dammed more easily than wider valleys and relief encourages the rapid flow of water needed to ensure the generation of electricity
  • Variation of precipitation throughout the year is a disadvantage. 


  • There are many natural attractions in the Andes such as mountain peaks, volcanoes, glaciers and lakes. Some tourist attractions show how people lived in such inhospitable areas ,such as the remains of the early settlements, like Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is a highly popular tourist destination.
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Tsunami Case Study - Indian Ocean 2004

  • 26th December 2004
  • Caused by earhquake - 9.1 on Richter Scale - Very Powerful
  • Hundreds of thousands homeless (P)
  • 230,000 died (P)
  • 37,000 missing (P)
  • Fishing boats on rooftops (S)
  • Vehicles stuck in trees (S)
  • India, Thailand, Maldives, Malaysia, Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and some areas on the coast of Africa were all affected.(P)
  • Loss of tourism - tourists face moral dilemma about whether or not they should visit the area (S)
  • As a result of this, and all of the damage cause, the economy gets badly affected. (S)


  • UK forces heavily involved in Sri Lanka
  • Charities donate lots of money
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