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. These hazards consist of sudden phenomena and slow phenomena: Sudden phenomena include: • • • • • • • • • • • avalanches (snow, rock, or air & snow) and its runout earthquakes and earthquake-triggered phenomena such as tsunamis forest fires (espec. in Mediterranean areas) leading to deforestation geomagnetic storms ice jams (Eisstoß)on rivers or glacial lake outburst floods below a glacier landslide (lateral displacement of earth materials on a slope or hillside) mudflows (avalanche-like muddy flow of soft/wet soil and sediment materials, narrow landslides) pyroclastic flows rock falls, rock slides, (rock avalanche) and debris flows torrents (flash floods, rapid floods or heavy current creeks with irregular course) volcanic eruptions, lahars and ash falls.
Gradual or slow phenomena include: • alluvial fans (e.g. at the exit of canyons or side valleys) • caldera development (volcanoes)
Norris geyser at Yellowstone NP, Sept.2003 • geyser deposits • ground settlement due to consolidation of compressible soils or due to collapseable soils (see also compaction) • ground subsidence, sags and sinkholes • liquefaction (settlement of the ground in areas underlain by loose saturated sand/silt during an earthquake event) • sand dune migration • shoreline and stream erosion • thermal springs Sometime the hazard is instigated by man through the careless location of developments or construction in which the conditions were not taken into account.
 Geologic hazard evaluation and mitigation Geologic hazards are typically evaluated by engineering geologists who are educated and trained in interpretation of landforms and earth process. earth-structure interaction. The engineering geologist provides recommendations and designs to mitigate for geologic hazards. • Additional mitigation methods include deep foundations. Larger projects may use gabions and other forms of earth buttress. injection of grout or concrete. • Planning measures include regulations prohibiting development near hazard-prone areas and adoption of building codes. • Eisstoß Feb. shear pins. • The stability of sloping earth can be improved by the construction of retaining walls. soil nails or soil anchors. Mitigation can include a variety of measures: • Geologic hazards may be avoided by relocation. tunnels.2006 Vienna. which may use techniques such as slurry walls. and in geologic hazard mitigation. Austria (Donauinsel) • . surface and subdrain systems. and mechanically stabilized earth. Trained hazard mitigation planners also assist local communities to identify strategies for mitigating the effects of such hazards and developing plans to implement these measures. tiebacks. • The soil or rock itself may be improved by means such as dynamic compaction. and other measures. • Shorelines and streams are protected against scour and erosion using revetments and riprap.
Most destructive earthquakes are caused by movements along faults. or even by manmade explosions. The U. consists of about a dozen large. . The plate boundaries are fault zones. which averages about 43 miles (70 kilometers) in thickness. Spreading zones usually have earthquakes at shallow depths (within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the surface). irregularly shaped plates that slide over. transform faults. earthquake (magnitude 7.5 earthquake of March 28.S. as well as background information on all the types of hazards described below. and past each other on top of the partly molten inner layer. There are three types of plate boundaries: spreading zones. and volcanoes are all types of geologic hazards. Geological Survey The Earth is formed of several layers that have very different physical and chemical properties. Most spreading zones are found in oceans. 1964. back to top Earthquakes More than 6 feet was added to this fault scarp by vertical movement in the 1983 Borah Peak. Earthquakes occur all over the world and often occur without significant warning. sinkholes. The vibration can be violent and cause widespread damage and injury.A geologic hazard is a natural geologic event that can endanger human lives and threaten human property. pushing two plates apart and adding new material at their edges. Small. landslides. by a volcanic eruption. the North American and Eurasian plates are spreading apart along the mid-Atlantic ridge. localized earthquakes may cause no noticeable damage and may not even be felt by people living in the affected area. An earthquake can trigger additional hazards such as landslides or tsunamis. under. In fact. for example. Credit: U. Subsidence at Government Hill School in Anchorage.3). molten rock rises. and are where most earthquakes occur. These geohazards can have far-reaching affects on humans and on the surface of the Earth. landslides. Earthquakes can occur at the surface of the Earth or as deep as 400 miles below the surface.S. AK. a large earthquake may cause destruction over a wide area and be felt thousands of miles away. Geological Survey (USGS) provides real-time hazard information on earthquakes. the locations of earthquakes and the kinds of ruptures they produce help scientists define the plate boundaries. and volcanoes. Geological SurveyThe term "earthquake" refers to the vibration of the Earth's surface caused by movement along a fault. The outer layer. and subduction zones. or may be barely felt. Prince William Sound. geomagnetics. geomagnetic storms. Idaho. In contrast. after the magnitude 8. Credit: U.S. tsunamis. Alaska. At spreading zones. Earthquakes.
Damage in Charleston. Intensity measures the severity of an earthquake in terms of its effect on humans. another. Calif. Each earthquake only has one magnitude. For example.S. ground shaking can result in soil liquefaction.S. pushing it downward into the mantle where it melts. These zones of weakness within the continents can cause earthquakes in response to stresses that originate at the edges of the plate or in the deeper crust. Naval Research Laboratory. Earthquakes at transform faults tend to occur at shallow depths and form fairly straight linear patterns. and the land surface. although plate-boundary earthquakes are much more common. Illustration by Jose F. The USGS usually uses the Modified Mercalli intensity scale to describe earthquake intensity. damage to dams or levees with resultant flooding.0 or less.9 Northridge. and mountain ranges containing active volcanoes.S. or subducts. Less than 10 percent of all earthquakes occur within plate interiors. and the U. The intensity of a given earthquake will vary from place to place. and southern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. landslides. shallow to deep earthquakes. Vigil from This Dynamic Planet -. 1886 earthquake. An example of a transform-fault plate boundary is the San Andreas fault. Earthquake strength is measured as both magnitude and intensity. Geological Surveystructures. Credit: U. earthquake. Subduction zones are characterized by deep-ocean trenches. the Smithsonian Institution. Geological Survey Earthquakes can also occur within plates. and fires caused by ruptured .a wall map produced jointly by the U. Freeway interchange that collapsed in the 1994 M6. Geological Survey. Credit: U. Subduction zones are found where one plate overrides. SC after the August 31. western Canada. An example of a subduction-zone plate boundary is found along the northwest coast of the United States. The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 and the 1886 Charleston earthquake occurred within the North American plate. People usually cannot feel earthquakes with magnitudes of 3. We tend to picture most earthquake damage as resulting directly from ground shaking. but there are many other related impacts from an earthquake.Transform faults are found where plates slide past one another. A cross section illustrating the main types of plate boundaries. Magnitude measures the relative strength of an earthquake and is recorded with the Richter scale. As plates continue to move and plate boundaries change over geologic time. along the coast of California and northwestern Mexico.S. weakened boundary regions become part of the interiors of the plates.
which may be local or may occur hundreds or even thousands of miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.fuel and power lines. Structural damage or collapse may be caused by any of these effects. In addition. we can take steps to lessen their human impact. .4 billion as the minimum average annualized loss due to earthquakes in the United States. earthquakes may trigger tsunamis or seiches. In the United States and many other countries. and provided an estimate of $4. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program maintains detailed records on historical earthquakes and continuously monitors earthquake activity around the world. building codes take into account the local earthquake risk so that buildings and other structures can be designed to withstand all but the most severe earthquakes. Nevada. Most earthquakes in the United States occur in Alaska and California. and Idaho also experience many earthquakes. Washington. While we can't prevent earthquakes or even accurately predict when they will occur. A Federal Emergency Management Agency study considered just capital (damages to buildings and their contents) and income-related costs. Four of the five largest earthquakes in the United States occurred in Alaska. those who live in earthquake-prone areas should know how to be prepared for an earthquake and what to do if one occurs. although Hawaii. In addition.
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