Seismicity Case Studies

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MEDC that managed impacts well

Loma Preita, San Fran - October 17th, 1989, 5.04 pm, magnitude 7.1

  • Occured due to slip in the San Andreas fault (conservative plate margin).
  • Largest earthquake to occur in the San Fransisco Bay area since 1906.
  • Death toll = 62, Number injured = 3757
  • Cost = approximately $8 billion
  • 22 structural fires occured
  • Many buildings were extensively damaged as old buildings were built with unreinforced masonry
  • Flood plain of San Lorenzo river subject to intense shaking and liquefaction.
  • Interrupted the baseball 'world series'
  • Fire crews helped to rescue people trapped on the freeway and helped put out fires
  • The National Guard patrolled the streets to prevent looting.
  • Extra boat transport was provided to trasnsport people across the bay.
  • Electricity was restored within 2 days.
  • The Cyprus freeway was rebuilt using aseismic design and reopened 10 years later.
  • They recieved $3 billion in aid from the US government and from private donations.
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MEDC that poorly managed impacts

L'Aquila Italy - 6th April 2009, 3.32am, 5.8Mw

  • Caused by movement along the north-south fault line along the Apennine mountain range.
  • Several aftershocks following the main earthquake (some measure 5 on the Richter scale) - these hampered rescue efforts and caused further damage.
  • Cost estimation = $15 billion
  • Thousands of buildings destroyed, including part of the city hospital.
  • Water pipes were broken causing landslides and fires caused further damage. 
  • Death toll = 300 (mostly due to collapsed buildings).
  • Injuries = 1500
  • 70,000 made homeless.
  • Thousands had to move away to find jobs. 
  • Strict building regulations were not always met and many new buildings were poorly built (e.g. San Salvatore Hospital should have withstood the earthquake, but collapsed).
  • People formally complained that seismologists working in the area didn't predict the earthquake and requested a criminal investigation.
  • Italy has a Civil Protection Department that trains volunteers to help with things like rescue operations. 
  • 12,000 rescue and support workers helped with the response. 


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LEDC that managed impacts well

Gujarat India - January 26, 2001, 8.46am, 7.7 Mw

  • Caused by Indo-Australian and Eurasian plate moving towards each other.
  • Death toll - 20,000
  • Injuries - 166,000
  • 600,000 left homeless
  • In built up areas, modern buildings were shake but mostly survived.
  • The Government suspected that as some new buildings collapsed, dodgy building methods had been used and many builders/architects were charged with culpable murder.
  • Gujarat was the second most industrialised state in India, with well developed industries.
  • An Oxfam team of emergency specialists provided aid.
  • There was a rehabilitation programme that focussed on the long-term effects on public health.
  • Oxfam also helped repair broken water pipes in order to ensure a safe water supply to the people. 
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LEDC that poorly managed impacts

Haiti - 12 January 2010, 4.53pm, 7.0 Mw

  • Caused by the North American plate sliding past the Caribbean plate at a conservative plate margin.
  • Death toll - 316,000
  • Transport and communication links were badly damaged.
  • Hospitals and schools badly damaged along with the airport control tower.
  • 1 in 5 people lost their jobs and Haiti's clothing industry was badly affected.
  • Bodies in the street led to disease like cholera.
  • It was difficult for Haiti to recieve aid due to issues at the airport and poor management.
  • Poor health and sanitation along with looting became a problem.
  • $100 million in aid given by the USA and $330 million by the EU.
  • There was a lack of immediate aid through poor planning.
  • 1 million people still without homes a year after the earthquake.
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