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This document is about the analysis of 10 natural disasters (earthquakes and volcanoes) in different parts of the world throughout the last century to now. There are several factors leading up to the event of the disaster and the destruction caused by the disaster. An attempt will also be made to compare and analyze these disasters. Note, this analysis is only about tectonic disasters and events related to tectonic disasters such as but not limited toearthquakes, tsunamis’ and volcanic eruptions. It can be seen that all the events in the map above happen near a tectonic plate margin or have their origin at a plate margin. This similarity suggests that ‘place’ is important because of the location that these disasters can occur in. This also implies that these disasters rarely occur, if ever, in places like Russia as there are no plate margins there. An example of this can be the fact that all the events that were listed in this map occurred around the Pacific ring of fire, the area surrounding the pacific plate where the pacific plate has shares plate margins. The movement of any one of these tectonic plates might be enough to set off a natural disaster. Another general similarity, as indicated in the map, is that most developed locations or higher income countries have a minor death count when compared with lower income countries. This suggests place is important because of, possibly, the infrastructure of the locations that are affected by the disaster. The infrastructure/economy of countries in North America is higher than in places like South America. North America is more prepared for an earthquake than South America is, as it invests more in preventing disasters than South America. Take a look at the west coast of USA, it was hit by two earthquakes in recent times and both times only about 60 people died both times- a small number when compared with Colombia’s 23,000 from the Armero incident. Because of this similarity, it can be generalized that natural disasters have less of an impact on higher income countries. An anomaly that defied this, however, occurred in 2011 when 16,000 people died in Japan- one of the most developed countries that invests the most in disaster prevention. Perhaps, this could be explained by the after events of the earthquake that struck. The tsunami that hit after was exceptionally strong and had hit a nuclear reactor, making way for radiation emission from the reactor to the people killing much more than the expected 2400. Another factor to consider here is that Japan is on a destructive plate margin where the Pacific plate pushes under the Asian continent causing earthquakes that are more destructive than usual. A difference between the disasters that were located on the California fault line, were the time that they took place in. What was different here between the disasters other
than the time was the cost. Perhaps, this suggests that as time progresses things develop further and become more expensive- cost of living increases, estimated price of items increase; the cost of reconstruction for a natural disaster in this time is 3 times what it was 30 years ago probably because there is more to lose right now. Another example that can be taken for this is Japan; in the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 the cost of damage was a twentieth of what it was in 2011. It can be generalized here from the differences that disasters that happen closer to the present are more costly, and have a higher cost of reconstruction. A reason why space is important is if the region where the event occurs is inaccessible. By observing the set of natural disasters that I have picked, it can be observed that regions that got aid were more accessible than those that didn’t. Another similarity was that these areas also had higher death tolls. Perhaps these two factors can be linked, and areas that are inaccessible have higher death tolls. Examples of this happening were, Japan because of the radiation crisis, Tangshan due to fog and its mountainous region and the Indian Ocean region in 2004 because the damage was extremely widespread. These regions had much higher death tolls than places like Pacaya, Guatemala in 2010 to which aid reached instantaneously and had a death toll of less than a 100. Another general similarity indicated in the map is that the disasters occurring in Asia have higher death tolls. This is possibly because, if generally observed, the population density of Asia is more when compared to South America, North America or Africa. This could suggest that space is important because locations that are densely populated have higher death counts when hit by natural disasters possibly because infectious diseases can pass quicker to people in infected zones and because natural disasters these natural disasters (that are more centred than hurricanes for example) can affect a larger population of people than if the people are spread out. The similarity that was initially observed was the high death tolls in South Asia (280,000) and China (242,769), both densely populated. This general trend suggests that locations that have a denser population can be predicted to have a higher death toll. However, what can generally be observed between all these tectonic disasters is that all these disasters occurred at a certain time of the year relative to the zone in which they occur. By this, what I mean is that if an earthquake occurs in Russia (ironically; not that earthquakes occur there frequently) in December in 1937, it can be expected to occur again in December again another year. This is what has happened with certain events that are listed in my map. Examples are the two Californian earthquakes, a three month difference; Pacaya and Martinique eruptions, both in May two different years. An exception to this rule are the Japanese quakes, they happened six months apart in the annual cycle but what could have happened here is that there is a different earthquake schedule (per half year) or because of the immense amount of technological and mechanical paraphernalia, they may have accidentally triggered an earthquake, as was done in Oklahoma by injecting natural gas
and oil into the earth. But, it can be generalized that earthquakes happen on a schedule and certain times of the year can be expected to have earthquakes occurring within them. A similarity that was observed between the two major eruptions that occurred in the map, with higher death tolls, was that they were near cliffs and tropical mud. This could suggest that volcanic eruptions that are near cliffs are more dangerous possibly because of not just the pyroclastic floes that all volcanoes have, but the landslides and lahars (hot mud flows) that occur after the eruptions. This means that volcanoes that are on plains are less of an effect on civilization than volcanic eruptions that occur near cliffs. Examples of this in the map are the Martinique eruption and the Armero tragedy, both with a death count of 20,000+ that were near cliffs against the Pacaya eruption with a death toll of less than a 100. This brings me to my next point. A similarity between most volcanic eruptions is that unlike most earthquakes, they are evident and signs of an eruption occurring are visible up to a month before they occur. Examples of this are in Martinique where a dome built up and in Armero where there were signs of ash and smoke billowing from the volcano. From these signs, people should evacuate instantly leaving no room for a death toll, unlike in an earthquake where it comes swiftly. But why are people insistent on living near volcanoes even though there are signs of eruptions and volcanic activity? A cause for this could be education levels, the areas mapped were locations in South America where the education levels were poor- cause of the country being and LIC. Another could be religious reasons, people believing in the supernatural- but this was not a common factor in any of the volcanic eruptions mapped out. But what was common in all the situations was that the areas hit by the volcanic eruption were agricultural towns. People live near volcanoes because it is easy to grow crops there and because their job relies on the volcano, thus they are stubborn about not leaving. This was the case in the Armero tragedy, there were several signs of an eruption but people did not leave because of their jobs as Armero was a farming village. Though another case could be that that the pyroclastic floes from volcanoes will destroy crops, leading to death by starvation which is what happened in Martinique. In both cases the similarity is the agriculture, this could suggest that a major part of death in volcanic eruptions are agriculture. This is a good example of how space affects the severity of a disaster.
After analysing all the similarities and differences between these natural disasters, it can be seen how many different variables affect the degree of destruction caused by an event and the outcome of a disaster. People use this to their advantage to predict the outcome of an event. Although, most times they are wrong because there are several things to consider within the time, place and space of an incident that can change something like the death toll by a lot. The End