Geomorphological hazards at a variety of scales should always be considered when planning the location of the settlement and economic activity. Discuss. Geomorphological hazards should always been considered when planning settlement locations. This is mainly due to the extreme and deadly effects of these hazards for both humans and the environment. Volcanoes and earthquakes are the major hazards to contemplate.
While the death and destruction caused by earthquakes can be quite substantial in urban areas, they usually only leave small scale physical scars on the landscape, with open cracks in the ground and some local land or lake level changes. Whereas volcanoes can be incredibly destructive, destroying anything in the erupted lava’s path whether human or natural vegetation. When the lava cools it leaves bare rock, vegetation growth is then relatively slow and it may take many plant successions before the climatic climax vegetation is reached.
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This can prove particularly devastating in Ledc’s where agriculture is the main income source and these large areas of newly created volcanic desert prove impossible to cultivate on. It can be reasonably safe to live in areas near constructive margins and hot spots where volcanoes emit basaltic lava. Although this greatly depends upon the severity of the volcanoes and also the warning and protection techniques used by the areas authorities. For example in Eldfell in 1963, the amount of damage caused was greatly reduced by careful planning and awareness of the proposed hazard.
So that when the volcano did erupt there was time to evacuate the inhabitants and also to restrict the lava flow by cooling it with sea water. But conversely it can prove difficult to predict when exactly an eruption will take place, even with the current best technology. So for that reason many areas are still at risk, particularly in areas with potentially explosive strato-volcanoes. Also numerous Ledc’s are without any monitoring technology and so an eruption may come as a complete surprise and together with secondary effects of mudflows can produce an even greater death toll.
The planning of settlement and economic activity should be carefully revised when thinking of building along tectonic fault lines which are subject to earthquakes. This is because as they are very difficult to predict the authorities must prepare strategies to reduce the impact of a possible earthquake. High buildings such as skyscrapers are more likely to remain standing if they are built using steel caged structures, small areas between each support, deep foundations on solid rock and a rubber pad placed between the building and its foundations.
This can prove very expensive and is usually only seen in countries of high economic development where the settlement structure and population density are very dense and therefore after an earthquake the property damage would usually greatly outweigh the loss of life While on the other hand many Ledc’s in earthquake zones cannot afford these expensive construction costs and even if they could there are sometimes corrupt government officials that divert the money elsewhere.
Due to many of these Ledc’s very high population densities while low levels of economic activity, the prominent feature after an earthquake would be the large loss of life. I have previously mentioned the negative effects of geomorphological hazards, but there are some positive impacts of these on humans. Mineral and metal reserves of copper, tin, silver and zinc as a result of volcanic activity provide valuable export trade for many developing countries e. g. Chile, Peru and Bolivia.
These minerals can also attract tourism to areas because of fluorescent colours they can create on the surface in geothermal areas. In Yellowstone National Park the emissions of steam, hot water, sulphurous fumes and bubbling mud from geysers, hissing holes and fissures attracts tourists in great numbers. Where hydrothermal activity is present, tourism is in abundance for example the fissure eruptions in Hawaii. The hot water produced is frequently used for heating and in areas where it is hot enough; it can be used to generate pollution free electricity from the geothermal energy contained in it.
This benefits both humans and the environment as it provides a cheap alternate to fossil fuels and will not damage the atmosphere contributing to current problem of global warming. As I mentioned earlier after a volcanic eruption the vegetation is destroyed producing a limited growth desert. But once the erupted materials have had time to weather, they produce some of the world’s most fertile soils because of their mineral content. So this attracts a large number of people to these areas for the farming opportunities, with some of the highest populations in the world located on volcanic soils.
Below Vesuvius where they had been previous of volcanic eruptions leaving fine ash deposits is intensity farmed for wheat, tomatoes, maize, grapes, peaches and various others, and these yields produced are much higher than the national average. So for these positive reasons that I have mentioned including tourism, export trade, pollution free HEP and fertile soils. It is very logical that many people want to live and work in an area of geomorphological interest and that governments want to choose these locations for settlement and tourism opportunities.
But with these benefits come risks, in the form of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions together with the secondary effects of mud flows which can cause extensive damage to both property and human life. And as these events are incredibly difficult to predict when and of what magnitude they will be, it makes living in these areas vulnerable and dependent upon nature. So I believe any government should carefully weigh up both the financial benefits and the possible loss of human life before they should choose a location for settlement or economic activity.