Volcanoes and earthquakes are some of the world’s most devastating natural disasters. This essay explores volcanoes and earthquakes as natural disaster phenomena by detailing their causes and effects. The analysis indicates that volcanoes and earthquakes result from the movement of tectonic plates in the earth’s crust. Volcanoes can lead to earthquakes and vice versa.
Among the many natural disasters and catastrophic events, volcanoes and earthquakes rank among the most calamitous ones (Clary & Wandersee, 2015). What makes them even more dangerous is the fact that their impact and time of occurrence cannot be ascertained with significant accuracy. Researchers and scientists are working on the mechanisms to predict volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, but so far they are yet to have a breakthrough. Hence, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, unlike typhoons, tornadoes and storms, remain undetectable until they happen (Egbelakin et al., 2013). Consequently, their mitigation measures, in most instances, are reactive instead of proactive. Reactive approaches are the reason why volcanoes and earthquakes remain the most devastating of natural disasters.
Volcanoes refer to the eruption of the earth’s crust spilling lava, gases, and ash onto the earth’s surface. A volcanic eruption is caused by the movement of tectonic plates (Clary & Wandersee, 2015). There are 17 major tectonic plates that form the earth’s crust (Clary & Wandersee, 2015). The tectonic plates are located above the molten magma making them mobile. The convergence and divergence of tectonic plates creates pressure, and energy which accumulates creates a crack through the layers of the earth’s surface and erupts.
It is estimated that there are over 1500 active volcanoes on the earth’s surface (Clary & Wandersee, 2015). Most of these are located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a ring of fault lines in the earth’s crust. Nearly 50% of the volcanoes are located in the seabed, which is a favorable thing as it minimizes its adverse impact on human lives and properties (Clary & Wandersee, 2015). Among its adverse effects are mudslides, volcanic winters, lava flows which burn houses and nearby forests, sulfuric rain caused by the sulfuric acid found in the ashes, and floods. In other instances, volcanoes cause earthquakes as they intensify the movement of tectonic plates. Volcanoes can also cause flash floods, rock falls, and tsunamis (Clary & Wandersee, 2015).
Earthquakes refer to the instantaneous shaking of the earth’s surface. They are caused by activities that lead to a rupture at the geological faults (Egbelakin et al., 2013). Ordinarily, earthquakes are caused by the sliding of tectonic plates across or above one another releasing seismic waves which are transmitted to the earth’s surface causing a tremor. The point at which the seismic waves originate in the earth’s crust is known as the hypocenter, while the point at which the waves make the impact on the earth’s surface is known as the epicenter (Egbelakin et al., 2013).
Most of the earthquake hotspots, just like in the case of volcanoes, are located along the Pacific Ring of Fire. It has been recorded that more than 90% of the world earthquakes have occurred along the Ring of Fire (Egbelakin et al., 2013). It is also responsible for over 81% of the world’s largest, most devastating earthquakes (Egbelakin et al., 2013). Earthquakes have extensive effects. They can cause loss of human lives, destruction of buildings, bridges, and other properties, a volcanic eruption, landslides, and tsunamis if the epicenter is at the bottom of the ocean.
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In conclusion, it is evident that volcanoes and earthquakes are some of the world’s most destructive occurrences. They are both caused by the movement of tectonic plates. They both have a prevalence of occurring along the Pacific Ring of Fire geological fault lines. Since it is hard to predict their occurrence, adequate measures should be taken to prevent their adverse effects.
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