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Discuss the view that the impacts of volcanic hazards depends primarily on human factors

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Introduction

´╗┐Discuss the view that the impacts of volcanic hazards depends primarily on human factors There are a wide range of volcanic hazards associated with volcanoes, there are the obvious primary hazards; lava flows, pyroclastic activity and poisonous gas emissions. There are also secondary impacts that result from the eruption such as lahars (sometimes called mudflows), avalanches and debris flows. These are all caused by natural causes but the effects from these can be enhanced or worsened by human factors. There are many different ways that volcanoes can impact the people and environment around it. The hazards from volcanoes can cause death to surrounding populations and also destroy important buildings and the infrastructure nearby. The environment can also be affected due to the gas released from volcanoes and also destruction of environment from pyroclastic flows or lava flows. These can be compounded and the impacts will vary depending on a mixture of human and physical factors. In 1980 in Washington State after 123 years of hibernation Mt St Helens erupted. This volcanic eruption produced many different hazards including a huge landslide, one of the largest ash clouds in recent years and a pyroclastic flow that destroyed huge areas surrounding the volcano. ...read more.

Middle

This destroyed hundreds of homes and miles highways but also destroyed large areas of woodland and forest. This had purely physical causes but many of the impacts of this were due to human factors such as the building of large highways, highway 5 is less tan 30km away from the summit of Mt St Helens. This meant that the impacts of the volcanic hazards were made much worse and this applies to most volcanic eruptions. Mount Pelee on the island of Martinique erupted in 1902 and killed 30,000 of the islands inhabitants and left almost no survivors in the city of St Pierre. This was mainly due to the pyroclastic flow that occurred on the 8th May. There had been numerous signs of an eruption for many days beforehand but the leaders of the town ignored these signs. This was partly due to their mistake but as this was over 100 years ago much less was known about volcanoes and eruptions so they would have had less information about what would be best to do. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall it is human factors that decide how significant the impacts of a volcanic hazard are but there is also a large extent to which humans cannot be blamed. When Mt St Helens erupted the area covered and the lightening created could not be controlled by humans and could not be predicted that it would cover such a large area. However there were still highways and cities, including Seattle, built nearby that meant the damage was greater than if humans had decided to build further away. Although lots of the damage was to the environment and therefore it is not only human factors that decide how much of an impact volcanic hazards caused and this is clear from the eruption of Mount Pelee. This eruption killed thousands and had little environmental impact on the area. However it was a mixture of human factors and physical factors that meant this eruption was so dangerous. However form both of these we can see that humans can make the situation much worse and cause the impacts to be much greater and is therefore a greater factor than any physical or natural factors. ...read more.

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