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Describe and Explain the Factors that Affect the Impact of Earthquakes.

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Sarah Lee Describe and Explain the Factors that Affect the Impact of Earthquakes ? There are various different factors that affect the impact that an earthquake has, not only on humans but the environment. Earthquakes are fundamentally caused by friction between lithospheric plates moving in different directions either constructively or destructively. Therefore, the major earthquakes occur at the boundaries of the lithospheric plates. Examples of these are Kobe quake in Japan on 17th January 1995 and Loma Prieta quake in San Francisco on October 17th 1989. (Seismologists have discovered both as being on plate boundaries.) It is therefore obvious that an enormous factor that affects the impact of an earthquake is its proximity to a plate boundary. The larger earthquakes occur at plate boundaries and can have dramatic effect but are some what expected. Japan is noted to have 4 earthquakes a day! However, minor earthquakes can occur on smaller fault lines on the major plates. An example of such an earthquake was Richter 3.9 in the Manchester area, England on Monday 21st October 2002 that was followed by 13 after shocks. Although earthquakes at plate boundaries can be catastrophic is size and damage caused, the local populations are educated that earthquakes can occur. ...read more.


and even then only 200 troops were mobilised. Only by 21st January, 4 days later, were 30,000 troops helping with the rescue. Political issues also increase the impact of an earthquake. In Kobe there were delays in accepting international help from the U.S military based in Japan or allowing medical teams and sniffer dogs into aid rescue operations. There was a similar incident in Bam, Iran where the government were reluctant to allow U.N assistance due to the political climate of the Middle East. The Mexican government turned down offers of international aid in the first few days after the quake in 1985 believing that it could cope alone. Richer countries that are susceptible to earthquakes and tremors invest in 'earthquake friendly' housing and commercial buildings. MEDC's have the technology to develop items such as rolling weights that counter act shock waves. Underneath skyscrapers, rubber shock absorbers can be placed in the foundations to reduce the impact of the earthquake on the building. In addition, panels of marble and glass constructed with the steel frame add flexibility to the superstructure. Also, reinforced latticework foundations are placed deep into the bedrock. Steel cables attached to bridge girders and to columns to restrain movement of roads as can concrete walls added between existing columns to make structure more rigid. ...read more.


These risks were most recently exhibited in the large fire that destroyed much of the town of Aonae on the Island of Okushiri during the Mw7.8, July 12, 1993, Hokkaido Nansei-oki Earthquake. Also liquifaction is a major secondary hazard. This is a phenomenon in which sand saturated with groundwater temporarily behaves like quicksand when strongly shaken. This occurred in San Francisco's Loma Prieta earthquake where damage related to liquifaction and soil consolidation in the area caused damage to water mains and disturbed numerous older masonry buildings. The earthquake caused landslides along the steep slopes from hills in the epicentral area to at least as far north as the Pacific coast just south of San Francisco. Several residential developments in the Santa Cruz Mountains were badly damaged by these slides. In conclusion to my essay, I have discovered that there are many different factors that can effect the impact of an earthquake which are not necessarily associated with the magnitude. A true disaster would have to be in conjunction with many preparation and financial shortcomings and a true hazard success story would attempt to avoid many of the factors mentioned above. However this is not always possible, as environmental, political, economic and social difficulties cannot always be elevated. ...read more.

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