The Phillipines Hotspot Case Study

The Philippines Hotspot Case Study

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 19-12-12 19:42

The Philippines Hotspot Case Study

Location of the country: Southeast Adia. An island arc that consists of over 7,000 islands concentated at latitudes between 5 and 20 degrees North of the equator - It lies within South-East Asia's major typhoon belt. In most years, it is affected by 15 typhoons and struck by 5 or 6 of them. Its Northern and Eastern coasts face the Pacific, the world's most tsunami-prone ocean.

Population density and growth: 312.78/91 million growing at a rate of 2.3% per year. There is a high coastal population and much poverty - with a high population, more people are subject to being affected by natural hazards, making the area more at risk and vulnerable when a hazard strikes, and so the death rate and number affected are high.

Physical geography: Numerous volcanic islands located on a destructive plate margin, where the Philippines plate subducts below the Eurasian Plate (explosive volcanic activity and frequent earthquakes) - it sits across a major, destructive plate boundary, so it faces significant risks from volcanos and earthquakes.

Level of human development: HDI = 0.78;97th out of 169 countries - a medium HDI means that the country has little technology to prepare or predict a natural hazard, and so they are not educated as to what to do when one strikes, and so are more vulnerable than a richer country.

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Natural Hazards in the Philippines

  • Volcanic eruptions (pyroclastic) and associated lahars (volcanic mudflows)
  • Earthquakes (100% of the country is potentially at risk)
  • Landslides
  • Typhoons: sits on a typhoon track, and experiences about 20 per year.
  • Tsunamis
  • Flooding
  • El Nino - can bring drought to the country, especially in the South, where it is poorer.

Human causes: Deforestation and other aspects of poor land management has made the impact of typhoons significantly worse. It increases flood risk, landslide risk and lahar risk. The numerous earthquakes also trigger landslides, and the increasintly urban population are at risk from thpyoons, earthquakes and floods. Building on floodplains has also caused the risk of floods to be increased drastically.

Physical causes: The Philippines lies on the boundary between two tectonic tectonic plates, the Philippine and Eurasian. The plates create earthquakes each time there is a release of pressure. These earthquakes often cause shallow landslides on steep slopes. The subduction occurring also causes volcanic eruptions. 

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Mount Pinatubo - Volcanic Eruption June 1991

Causes: This eruption was caused because the Philippine plate subducted the Eurasian palte causing heat to build under Mount Pinatubo, this heat rose rapidly and the volcanic eruption occured. 

Social Effects: 

  • 58,000 people had to be evacuated from a 30km radius of the volcano
  • 847 people lost their lives, 300 killed by collapsing rooves and 100 by lahars.
  • 1.2 million people lost their homes around the volcano and had to migrate to shanty towns in Manila. 

Environmental Effects:

  • Volcano ash is blown in all directions over hundreds of KMs, smothering fields and buildings.
  • Fast flowing volcanic mudflows (lahars) cause severe river bank erosion, undercut bridges etc.
  • Global cooling caused by ash in the atmosphere of 0.5 degrees C.
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Mount Pinatubo - Volcanic Eruption June 1991

Economic Effects:

  • Houses and birdges destroyed and needed replacing and Manila airport had to be closed.
  • Heavy rainfall from Typhoon Yunga causes buildings to collapse.
  • Farmland destroyed by falling ash and pumice, unusable for years, the 1991 harvest was destroyed and 650,000 people lost their jobs.


  • Prediction: 75,000 people were evacuated due to accurate predictions. There was no monitoring until the 3rd of April but seirmometers were put into place.
  • Prevention: 75,000 people evacuated up to a radius of 30km. USA air force helicopters helped. Alert systems were put into place to warn of eruption. Government shelters.
  • Preparation: Evacuation camps built for refugees. Warning signs like gas and steam looked for. Long and short term aid organised especially from the Res Cross and the United States. 
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The Guinsaugon Landslide - February 2006

Causes: The approximately 15 million m3 landslide was a result of progressive failures and tectonic weaking in a region made especially vulnerable by the inter-reaction of geological/tectonic, climative and cultural factors.

Economic Effects: Since Guinsaugon was an agricultural community, the economic impact of the landslide was on agricultural production. The total loss in agriculture is estimated at 460,469.18 million dollars. It is estimated that the landslide tragedy caused property damage amounting to US $2.442 million, and infrastructural damage amounting to US $22.600 million.

Social Effects: Barangay Guisaugon was totally buried with family members buried alive. 90% of the 330 families now living in the New Guinsaugon community lost at least one family member. 20% of the families lost two family memberes. 60% of families lost five members or more. There were 108 individuals who were left completely alone. 50 young children and dependent young adults (21 years and younger) were orphaned, and ten of these lost all members of their family.

Environmental Effects: The landslide moved at high speed and landed at a distance of more than a kilometer. The slope beyong 2 kilometers is almost flat. The area of the slide in approximately 2.6 kilometers. The area of deposition measured from the foot of the mountain is 1.6 square kilometers. 

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The Guinsaugon Landslide - February 2006


The United States Government provided over $246,000 in relief supplies and funds. The U.S. Agency for International Development's Offic of Foreign Disaster Assistance provided $100,000 to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) for immediate relief needs. USAID airlifted to the Philippines relief commodities from OFDS stockpiles in Miami and Dubai. There commodities include blankets, plastic sheeting, water containers, and body bags. The Philippine National Red Cross is also distributing protective masks for rescue workers, plastic sheetingm and body bags donated by the U.S. governmnt in response to previous disasters. 

How good are the Philippines with dealing with natural hazards?

  • Very good with dealing with volcanoes due to help and monitering by the USA.
  • Cyclones = major risk due to poor coastal defence. 
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