Skip to main content

See also:

Quakes,slides and eruptions

For the past few weeks the world and specifically parts of both North and South America have been beset by a series of natural catastrophes that have included flood, mudslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. All of this has occurred in the area known as the ring of fire. This is where the pacific plate and meets several other tectonic plates. When these plates move they create earthquakes, can increase volcanic activity.

Mudslides in Washington State
Mudslides in Washington StatePhoto by David Ryder/Getty Images
Washington State mudslide
Washington State mudslidePhoto by David Ryder/Getty Images

Additionally the plates contain faults like the San Andres Fault in California, or the New Madrid fault line in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. The New Madrid fault line changed the flow of the Mississippi River and caused prime farmlands to sink in to the river basin. This quake occurred in 1811-1812 and is one of the largest quakes to be centered in the United States. It is estimated that it would have registered an 8.0 on the Richter scale.

The movement of these tectonic plates move is a natural phenomenon which occurs almost every day, but not at a level that would create a threat. The larger movements occur less frequently but impact a larger area. The mudslides are created in several different ways. The drought causes forest fires which removes the plant material that is holding the soil in place. When the rain and snow begin the dirt is loosened and flows to a river and then to the sea. But when the rain and snow exceed their normal amounts the loss of soil becomes greater. Depending upon the terrain the water and snow melt may not run on the surface, but beneath the top soil layer. When this occurs mudslides, like the one in Washington State, occur.

The politicians, scientists, and talking heads will again use these events to “prove their viewpoint” on global warming and the effect caused by humans. Many of the effects have nothing to with that issue. The real effect of these natural catastrophes will be on the people and structures that are located close to or adjacent to one of these areas. This is the direct result of people who do not understand that these events will occur, but believe they will not be caught up in the process. Throughout history these types of natural disasters have occurred, but humans were not in the area. Urban planning, environmental planning and population tracking must become an integral part of the growth in this country and the world.