Earth Hazards

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To what extent does the impact of earth hazards depend largely on their geographical location? (30 marks)

Earth hazards are naturally occurring events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides that have a negative impact on economy and society. Impacts can be considered in terms of economic, social and environmental effects. Generally it is the combination of geographical location combined with other factors which causes earth hazards.

The earth hazard, which is responsible for the largest number of deaths, is flooding. Few places are at greater risk of flooding than Bangladesh; on the 15th November 2007 a storm surge and its accompanying cyclone caused the deaths of 4000 people. In July of the same year, there were floods in England and Wales, which did not result in any deaths. Geographical location was significant in the Bangladesh floods such as the natural funnel shape of the Bay of Bengal in front of Bangladesh, which steepened the storm surge resulting in the flooding overwhelming the low-lying tidal floodplains of the delta. Therefore increasing the scale of the flooding and increasing the damage caused. In the British July 2007 floods geographical location was also significant, as large parts of the upper catchment area in central Wales are above 300m, where slopes are steep and the main rock types have low permeability. As a result rainfall is rapid and small tributaries, which feed into the main river are highly responsive to rainfall and therefore liable to flash flooding. Therefore increasing the damage causes the July 2007 floods as more of this area was vulnerable to flooding.

However, other factors were also responsible for these earth hazards, such as Bangladesh’s high average population density of 1150 people per km2 and 40 million people living in the vulnerable coastal zone of Bangladesh. Therefore resulting in the flood affecting more people, as there were lots of people tightly packed together. As well as the...
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