Natural disasters

Key points

  • Natural disasters can come about as a result of climatic or geological events.
  • The climate can bring about disasters such as droughts, floods, storms and bushfires.
  • Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes are the result of geological events.
  • Natural disasters can have a far-reaching effect on communities in terms of loss of life, property damage and the impact on the economy.
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Sichuan earthquake in China

.... as I reeled about on the pavement trying to keep my footing, I saw a sight! The entire front of a tall four-story brick building in Third Street sprung outward like a door and fell sprawling across the street, raising a dust like a great volume of smoke! Mark Twain writing about the 1865 San Francisco earthquake in his book Roughing It.

Causes

  • The Earth's shifting tectonic plates, that slip, slide and collide with each other, can cause geological events such as: earthquakes, volcanoesand tsunamis.
  • Tsunamis are triggered by underwater earthquakes or landslides and travel at rapid speed across the ocean. The 2011 tsunami that devastated areas of Japan is estimated to have travelled across the Pacific Ocean at a speed comparable to a jet liner.
  • Climatic conditions can combine to bring about natural disasters, such as landslides and floods as a result of tropical storms, or cyclones as they are known in Australia. Other climatic conditions can bring about tornadoes.
  • Severe drought, high temperatures and hot winds can leave areas at high risk of bushfires.

 


Events


Some of the most prominent natural disasters to affect Australia and other parts of the world include:

 


Videos
 

 

 


The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull

Experiment


Try making an erupting volcano at home. You might need a papier-mache recipe.


 

Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood. 'Let us leave the road while we can still see,' I said,'or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.' Written by the 18 year old Pliny to a friend after seeing Mt. Vesuvius erupt on August 24, 79AD

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