The Geo RoomGeomorphology

Definition of the Day
Atmospheric Instability
A condition in the atmosphere where air parcels are heated and therefore are warmer than the surrounding atmosphere resulting in unstable weather conditions such as heavy rains and hailstorms. See Atmospheric Stability & Instability

Impacts of Volcanoes

Volcanoes can pose devastating impacts to both humans,animals and the environment. Super eruptions are known to affect almost the whole world e.g. Mt Tambora Indonesia 1815 caused the Year Without Summer which caused unusual low temperatures and poor harvests as far as Europe and America. Some of the impacts of volcanoes include:

  • Lose of lives from inhalation of toxic gases or buried by pyroclastic debris
  • Damage to infrastructure
  • Electrical fires
  • Bridge and dam bursts
  • Nuclear and Oil plants are destroyed
  • Deadly mass movements such as Avalanches and Lahars
  • Rivers and lakes are choked by debris which can lead to flooding
  • Animals and aquatic life forms are wiped out. When Mt St Helens (USA) erupted in 1980, several elks and deer were wiped out. The Spirit Lake was choked with debris killing aquatic lifeforms.
  • Trees are wiped out
Secondary Effects occurring after eruption
  • Food, water and sanitation shortages causing hunger or even death
  • Some die after eruption from gas inhalation
  • Homelessness leading to squatters, refugees and migration
  • Low temperatures and sunlight as ash blocks out solar radiation (long term)
  • Poor harvests for several years (long term)
  • Financial loses to pay for reparations and huge piles of debt (long term)
  • Closure of schools (long term)
  • Refusal of inhabiting the area again
  • Paranoia of a possible eruption
  • Blaming others (rebuke)
LEDCs are the most to surfer from volcanic eruptions, e.g. Mt Pinatubo 1991 Phillipines. Late warnings, inability to cope, illiteracy, location, high population densities make volcanoes disastrous. In contrast, developed countries are usually prepared for such hazards and make the impacts less disastrous.
Developed countries study volcanic activities and anticipate possible eruptions. This provides enough time for people to evacuated and even gather precious possessions.Some of the possible predictions and warning signs include:
Studying past volcanic eruptions and recording the time interval of eruptions e.g. on a 100 year interval
Studying unusual animal behaviour
Observing ground hotness
Minor earthquakes
Small eruptions
Geysers, fumaroles, mudvolcanoes and small volcanic features start activating.
These predictions combined together provide enough time for preparedness and lessen some of the impacts of volcanoes.
Some of the mitigatory and management measures include
Fire drills which teach people on how to react during eruptions.
Relocating less privileged people from volcano prone areas, however, lack of cooperation from certain tribes may hinder this process.
Turning volcanic areas into a recreational facilities.
Building wide and navigable roads for faster emergence services.
Households should be equipped with emergence kits such as torches and first aid kits.

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