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Tectonics Human Factors Essay

1345 words - 6 pages

Describe the view that the impact of earthquakes depend primarily on human factores
Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates and fault lines covering the earths surface. They occur at all three plate boundries (distructive, constructive andconservative) although most earthquakes occuralong the edge of the oceanic plates and fault lines such as the San Andreas fault line situated in California USA. There is always a variation of factors that can influence how the seismic event will impact, both human and physical factors and both influence the outcome of the event.
The main physical feature to impact the size and damage of the seismic event is the magnitude of the ...view middle of the document...

However, the same is not always true for earthquakes with a focus beneath the ocean. Although, due to the distance from the epicenter, the magnitude of waves on land may be smaller, there is a risk of the secondary impact of a tsunami. In Japan, in 2011, despite a magnitude 9 earthquake striking over 100 kilometers east of the Japanese coastline, the damage was relatively low. The majority of the costs of this seismic event were due to the resulting tsunami, caused by vertical displacement of land up to 10 meters.
The rock type the earthquake occurs on can also play a huge part in the impacts the earthquake has. Buildings built on unstable rock such as Mexico City, which is built on unconsolidated lake sediment, will mean that the area is subject to more vulnerability should a large seismic event occur. In order to prevent these buildings built on less stable sediment more money is needed to be invested by the government to earthquake proof these buildings. There is also a risk of liquefaction occurring if sediment land is saturated with rainfall from past days. Liquefaction is where buildings sink as liquid rises to the surface when the surface is violently shaken. This can have secondary impacts as removal of excess water is costly and the structural damage is large.
In addition to both physical and human factors, there are other factors influencing earthquake events that are beyond the control or influence of humans. The timing of an earthquake can vastly affect the extent of the damage as it controls the level of preparedness that people have. Effects will vary depending on the standard of buildings in the country. In Japan, many public sector buildings have the highest standard of earthquake proofing, so earthquakes that occur during the day have the lowest impact. However, the Kashmir earthquake, schools were poorly built across the country, so there was a very high death toll as these buildings collapsed.
When looking at the human impacts of an earthquake the demography of an area is a key factor in how dangerous the seismic event will be. A very densely populated area will clearly be more likely to have a larger death toll than a sparsely populated area, due to the fact that there are more people in the same amount of area that can be impacted. In many LEDC’s the highest rate of population occurs in the shanty towns surrounding the city areas. The people living within these areas are at serious risk to seismic events as they are surrounded my make shift buildings that will collapse under the slightest of earth tremors. The same scenarios are found in more economically developed areas as high population density leads to large amounts of skyscrapers being constructed. Most of the high rise buildings produced will have to follow strict building guide lines so the structure is as safe as possible although the risk of death is still high due to the millions of people located there. ...

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