Discuss the view that the impact of earthquake hazards depends primarily on human factors (40 marks)
Earthquakes are an example of seismic activity caused by the build-up of tension at the three types of plate boundaries: destructive, constructive and conservative. The pressure is suddenly released as the plates jerk past each other, sending out seismic waves from the focus that travel through different parts of the earth. The movement of convection currents within the Earth’s mantle causing the crust to become mobile which creates the different types plate margins, makes the cause due to physical factors. However human activity is suggested to be the cause of some minor earthquakes, for instance the building of large reservoirs where the water stresses the surface rocks or the subsidence of deep mine workings. The seismic waves cause the initial effect of ground shaking. The severity of this will depend upon the nature of the event such as the magnitude of the earthquake, the depth of the focus and the local geological conditions. The scale of these conditions will determine the risk to the hazards present, so the larger the event the greater the impacts. Physical factors such as the location of the epicentre and the presence of land can also determine the different impacts, but I feel that human factors play a further critical decider in the type of effects, as each earthquake happens in a different environment which has been created with respect to each area’s characteristics, for example land use, population density and the use of earthquake proofing technologies to limit impacts.
The impact of earthquake hazards does significantly depend on the physical factors influencing the initial nature of the event, which will determine the potential risk posed to the hazards present in the area that will be affected. At destructive plate boundaries, where the denser oceanic crust is subducted beneath the less dense continental crust, the plates may get stuck...
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