Restless Earth Case Studies

Andes, South America (Part 1)


  • 7000km long, 300km wide, 4000m average height.
  • Longest range of fold mountains in the world. 


  • Bolivia: subsistence farmers (for self) grow wide range of crops. 
  • Terraces used to create flat land, retain water, limit downard movement of soil. 
  • Cash crops: soybeans, rice, and cotton. 
  • Llamas carry materials for irrigation into inaccessible areas (Machu Picchu relied on them). 


  • Andean countries are top 10 for tin, silver, nickel and gold.
  • More than half of Peru's exports are from mining. 
  • Yanacocha gold mine is the biggest in the world.
  • Gold bearing rock loosened with daily dynamite blasts, sprayed with cyanide and gold extracted.
  • Nearby town of Cajamarca grown from 30,000 to 300,000 in 2010. Brings jobs but also crime.
1 of 8

Andes, South America (Part 2)

Hydroelectic Power

  • Steep slopes and narrow vallows can be more easily dammed. 
  • Relief encourages rapid flow of water. 
  • Melting snow in spring increases supply: disadvantage, variation. 


  • Mountain peaks, volcanoes, glaciers, lakes. 
  • Inca Trail: over 250 species of orchid. 
  • Archaeological and natural reserve- important both culturally and naturally. 
  • Finishes at the Lost City of the Incas, 45km trek, usually covered in 4 days.
  • Best taken April-October, drier weather. 
  • Altitudes of 4200m reached. 
  • Closed for conservation every February, only 200 trekkers can start each day. 
  • Tickets must be bought at least a month in advance. 
2 of 8

Earthquake, Kobe (MEDC)


  • 5:46am, January 17th 1995. 
  • Philippines beneath Eurasion, Nojima fault line. 
  • 7.2 Richter Scales. 
  • Tremors lasting 20 seconds. 


  • 6434 dead, 40 000 injured, 300 000 homeless. 
  • Gas mains ruptured, water pipes fractured, railway lines buckled. 
  • 2 million homes without electricity, 1 million people without water for 10 days. 
  • Fires, people huddled on streets, tented shelters in parks. Damage at over $220 billion. 


  • Friends and neighbours searched rubble, joined by servies when access was possible. 
  • Hospitals struggled to cope with influx, major retailers helped provide essentials. 
  • Railways 80% operational within a month. 
  • New buildings built further apart to prevent domino effect, reinforced with steel, rubber blocks under bridges to absorb shocks. 
3 of 8

Earthquake, Haiti (LEDC)


  • 16:53, 12th of January 2010. 
  • Caribbean island, 7.0 magnitude. 
  • Epicentre just 15km SW of capital. Conservative: NA and Caribbean plate. 
  • Minor tremors continued up to 5.0. 


  • 230 000 dead, 1.5 million homeless, 180 000 homes destroyed. 
  • Homeless accommodated in over 1100 camps: limited services, water, sanitation. 
  • Cholera, storms, flooding. 
  • 5000 schools damaged or destroyed, $11.5 billion damage. 


  • Teams of medics, sniffer dogs, heat sensitive equipment. 
  • Aid in the form of water, food, supplies and shelter from USA and Dominican Republic. 
  • 3/4 of damaged buildings inspected and repaired.
  • 20 000 people received cash or food for public work. 
  • World Bank pledged $100 million to support reconstruction and recovery. 
4 of 8

Volcano, Nyiragongo (LEDC)


  • 17th January 2002. 
  • Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. 
  • Plate movement along East African rift valley. 


  • Lava spilt downwards in three streams, 60kph, flowed across Goma airport. 
  • Split town in half, destroyed homes, water pipes, and roads. Explosions in fuel stores. 
  • 45 dead. 
  • Half a million fled from Goma to neighbouring Rwanda. Spent night on streets of Gisenyi. 
  • No electricity, shelter or clean water. Cholera. Many returned for fear of looting.


  • Water had to be supplied in tankers. 
  • Aid agencies- Christian Aid and Oxfam- distributed food, medicine and blankets. 
5 of 8

Volcano, Mt St Helens (MEDC)


  • Fold Mountains: Cascade Range in Washington State, USA. 
  • Composite volcano, destructive plate boundary, Juan de Fuca beneath NA. 
  • March 1980- earthquakes, ash, steam. Bulge grew on N flank. 
  • May 1980 at 08:32am- eruption. 


  • 5.2 earthquake caused landslide on NE side. Lateral blast. 390m summit removed. 
  • Glaciers melted and formed lahars, swept away trees and rock, blocked Spirit Lake. 
  • Destruction up to 27km N of crater. 
  • 57 dead- more if not a Sunday. 
  • Crops ruined, livelihoods of loggers gone, 15 000 acres destroyed.
  • Power lines came down, damage estimated at over £800 million. 
  • Damage to forests= increased flooding.


  • Washington issued a 15kmph speed limit, people ecouraged to stay indoors. 
  • Forest replanted and naturally recolonized. Exclusion zones. 
  • Area given National Monument status in 1982- tourist destination. 
6 of 8

Supervolcano, Yellowstone


  • North America, Magma beneath Yellowstone currently shifting.
  • Caldera bulging beneath lake, signs of increasing activities at Norris Geyser basin. 
  • Ground risen 70cm in places. 
  • Magma chamber: 80km long, 40km wide, 8km deep (recent studies show may be larger). 
  • Eruption is due. 
  • Potentially 5x the minimum size for a supervolcano.


  • 10 000km of land lost. 
  • 87 000 dead. 
  • 15cm of ash would cover buildings within 1000km. 
  • 1 in 3 affected would die. 
  • Ash would affect transport, water, electricity, farming. 
  • UK would await arrival of ash some 5 days later. 
  • Global climates would change and crops would fail. 
7 of 8

Tsunami, Japan


  • Tohoku, Japan. 
  • 11th March 2011, 9.0 magnitude. 
  • 100km East of Sendai. 3000m of coastline affected.
  • Wall of water 40m high in 30 minutes, 9 additional waves 10m high. 


  • Destructive plate margin. Pacific beneath NA. 
  • Segment of rock slipped suddenly, upwards 'flick' between 5-10m.


  • 20 000 dead, 200 000 buildings damaged, 500km squared coastal plains inundated. 
  • Explosions at Fukushima power plant, contamination, worries of meltdown. 
  • Electricity cut off in 6 million homes, 1 million lpeople left without running water.


  • 100 000 Japanese soldiers deployed, specialist search and rescue teams flown in. 
  • Exclusion zone around power plant, evacuated from area. 
  • Huge rebuilding longer term, system of defenses reconsidered. 
8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all Natural hazards resources »