At 0316 GMT (0846 local times) January 26, 2001, the major tremor hit the Indian state Gujarat. The nearest town, Bhuj was nearly destroyed by the earthquake with the magnitude rated from 7.6 to 7.9 using the Richter scale. It was reported as the most significant earthquake in the region in the last several decades. The aftermaths of the earthquake were disastrous: over than 20,000 people dead, more than 160,000 injured, 90% of Bhuj infrastructure was destroyed, about 600,000 people over the country appeared to be homeless, and more than a million homes were either destroyed or damaged (Carrington par. 3-8). It was a huge humanitarian disaster caused by nature.
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The natural predisposition of the region to earthquakes could have been noticed during the previous years of the seismic activities’ observations. The earthquake occurred on the tectonic interference of tree plates: the Indian, the Eurasian, and Arabian. The depth of the epicenter was about 24 kilometers, and it influenced the power of it as well (Carrington par. 5). Thousands of years of the compression caused by the collision of the tectonic plates resulted in the formation of the Himalayan Mountains as well as the Tibetan Plateau. Even though the epicenter was close to the western coast of the country, a tsunami did not occur. The reason is in the continental-continental convergence of the plates instead of subduction. Such a type of plate collision was the reason for tremors thousands of kilometers away from the epicenter. The earthquake’s waves had noticeable power in New Delhi, Calcutta, Nepal, and Bangladesh (Carrington par. 4). It is the largest registered earthquake in India since 1950.
At 0100 GMT (0758 local times) December 26, 2004, the major earthquake hit the bottom of the Indian Ocean near the Indonesian island Sumatra. It was about 160 kilometers off the coast of the northern part of the island. The earthquake had a magnitude equal to 9.1 on the Richter scale and struck near 30 kilometers below the ocean surface. It was caused by the subduction of the Burma tectonic plate under the Indian tectonic plate and further raise to 20m. It had caused the shift of over 1,000 kilometers of the ocean bottom (Osborne par. 3).
The earthquake itself was tremendous, but considering its location, it was even more dangerous because of the tsunami it had caused. The energy released by the earthquake could be compared to more than 20,000 atomic bombs that had hit Hiroshima. Such a huge amount of energy displaced massive volumes of the ocean water and caused the wave just about 50cm high (Osborne par. 4-5). However, the length of this wave was tremendous. It was about 500 kilometers long. The speed of its spread could have been compared to the speed of an airline jet.
It was hardly noticeable in the ocean, but when it reached the coast, the wave started to grow. Huge, 15-meters (even 30 meters were reported) tall waves hit Sumatra, Shi Lanka, coasts of India, and Thailand (Osborne par. 5). The consequences were terrible. These waves had such power that they managed to hit infrastructure and people 2 kilometers deep into the inland. Considering the touristic infrastructure mainly present in these regions, the wave caused numerous death and damage. Estimations showed that the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries all over the world (Osborne par. 7; Carrol par. 7). Indonesia suffered the most, losing 170,000 people in this major natural disaster.
At 2153 GMT (0453 local times) January 12, 2010, the Republic of Haiti was hit by a major earthquake. It had a magnitude equal to 7.0 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was about 20 kilometers away from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The aftermaths of the disaster were tremendously disastrous. The Haitian Government reported about over 310,000 dead people and the same amount of missing, nearly 300,000 injured people, and more than a million homeless due to the full or severe destruction of almost 300,000 homes (DesRoches et al. 1). Considering the population of the country (about 9 million people), the consequences were utterly negative for Haiti. The reason for such massive death and destruction is in the poor quality of buildings. The majority of the structures on Haiti were built avoiding the norms of building in seismically active areas (DesRoches et al. 2). Haiti’s economy had always been weak which resulted in such devastating outcomes.
Haiti is located on the island of Hispaniola, in its western region (DesRoches et al. 1). The island emerged in the Mesozoic era when the Pangea broke up, and the Atlantic Ocean was created. The Caribbean microplate emerged back then. The earthquake emerged due to “a prominent strike-slip fault that is evident in high-resolution relief maps of the Southern Peninsula of Haiti” (DesRoches et al. 3). The depth of the epicenter was about 13 kilometers under the surface. It should be noted that the region was relatively quiescent in seismic meaning for several decades before the earthquake. The earthquake became the most powerful ever reported in this region and certainly the most devastating and disastrous.
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At 0546 (March 12) GMT (0446 local times) March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake occurred in about 130 kilometers of the Sendai coast. It had a magnitude equal to 9.0 on the Richter scale. It was the most powerful earthquake on record that had ever hit Japan. The shift of the tectonic plates caused the tremendous 7-meter uplift of the sea. As the earthquake had happened in the sea at the depth of only about 30 kilometers, it was obvious that a tsunami was inevitable. All the energy released from the earthquake went into the formation of the tsunami that traveled all the distance to the shores of the northern part of the country. Japan was hit by tsunami waves 3 to 38 meters high (Sorkhabi par. 1). The outcomes of the earthquake and tsunami were horrible for Japan.
The official toll estimated about 16,000 dead, 6,000 injured, and over 3,500 missing after the disaster (Sorkhabi par. 2; Lackey par. 6). Tons of ocean water pushed into the land for hundreds of miles, destroying roads, houses, towns, and cities. Towns and cities in the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima were severely damaged or destroyed. The water flooded airports, fields, schools, buildings. Many ports in the disaster zone were destroyed. Thousands of people were forced to leave their houses, many still have not returned to their homes and still live in shelters or temporary housing. Because of the tsunami and subsequent loss of power, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant lost the cooling system of one of its reactors, which led to the meltdown. The environment and the ocean near Fukushima have been irreparably damaged.
Carrington, Damian. “Indian Earthquake.” New Scientist. 2001. Web.
Carrol, Linda. “Worldwide Surge in ‘Great’ Earthquakes Seen in Past 10 Years.” NBC News. 2014. Web.
DesRoches, Reginald, Mary Comerio, Marc Eberhard, Walter Mooney, and Glenn J. Rix. “Overview of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.” Earthquake Spectra 27.1 (2011): 1–21. Print.
Lackey, Katharine. “The World’s Deadliest Earthquakes in the Past Decade.” USA Today. 2015. Web.
Osborne, Hannah. “2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami: Facts about the Boxing Day Disaster.” International Business Times. 2014. Web.
Sorkhabi, Rasoul. “Japan’s Megaquake and Killer Tsunami: How Did This Happen?” Earth 2011. Web.