Tectonic Hazards Case Studies

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Earthquake - Haiti 2010

Magnitude - 7.0

Deaths - 220,000

People Affected - 3 million

Houses Destroyed - 250,000


The earthquake was caused by the North American Plate sliding past the Caribbean Plate at a conservative plate margin. Epicentre 16 miles West of Port-au-Prince and a shallow focus of 5 miles.  The earthquake struck at 16:53 (4:53pm) local time on Tuesday 12 January 2010.

Population Density - 25,000 per sq km.

Economic Status - LEDC

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Earthquake - New Zealand 2011

Magnitude - 6.3

Deaths - 181

People Affected - 2,000 injured

Houses Destroyed - 50% Central City Buildings damaged


The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand at 12:51 on 22 February 2011.  The epicentre was 6 miles South East of Christchurch and the focus was very shallow at 3.1 miles.  The earthquake occurred on a conservative plate margin where the Pacific Plate slid past the Australian Plate in the opposite direction.

Population Density - 180 per square km

Economic Status - MEDC

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Volcano - Montserrat 1997

VEI - 4

Deaths - 19

People Affected - Whole Population (11,000), population now just 6,000

Damages - 2/3rds of island uninhabitable to this day, ash covered many major cities


Montserrat lies on a destructive plate boundary. As the two plates merge the oceanic plate is forced down or sub ducted under the continental plate.

Population Density - 44 per square km

Economic Status - LEDC

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Volcano - Iceland (Eyjafjallajokull) 2010

VEI - 4

Deaths - 0

People Affected - Over 8 days some 100,000 flights were cancelled, 10 million air passengers affected, Losses estimated to be £80 million, 800 people evacuated locally

Damages - Homes and roads were damaged and services (electricity & water) disrupted, Local flood defences had to be constructed, Crops were damaged by heavy falls of ash

Cause: Iceland lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a constructive plate margin separating the Eurasian plate from the North American plate. As the plates move apart magma rises to the surface to form several active volcanoes

Population Density - 3 per square km

Economic Status - MEDC

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Tsunami - Japan 2011

Magnitude - 9.0, 

Deaths - 18,000

People Affected - 550,000 people displaced with 1.2 million homes without power

Buildings Damaged - 50,000 with 5,000 more destroyed


Occurred at a destructive plate boundary where the Pacific plate was being subducted (pushed under) the North American plate.

Population Density - 336 per square km

Economic Status - MEDC

A tsunami measured at anywhere from one meter to 7.3 meters hit at various places along the coast, while a 10-meter tsunami was seen at the port in Sendai, near the epicentre.

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Tsunami - Indian Ocean 2004

Magnitude - 9.1

Deaths - >250,000 (130,000 in Indonesia)

People Affected - Around 3-5 Million (500,000 in Indonesia)

Houses Damaged - 120,000 with 80,000 more destroyed in Indonesia alone


Subduction of the Indo-Australian Plate (Oceanic) under the Eurasian Plate (Continental) 240km off of the coast of Indonesia

Population Density - 138 per square km (Indonesia)

Economic Status - LEDC

In open ocean the tsunami measured less than 1 metre high.The tsunami travelled at speeds up to 800km per hour.When the Tsunami reached the shores, the height of the wave increased to 15 metres in some areas.

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