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MEDC'S vs LEDC'S: Earthquakes

Updated on October 6, 2012

This is the cypress freeway in San Francisco


What is the difference in the effects of earthquake strikes between MEDC’S and LEDC’S?

An earthquake is the sudden release of energy inside the earth’s crust which creates seismic waves. Earthquakes mainly occur near the edges of plate boundaries. They occur in the form of 3 types of plate boundary. Destructive plate boundaries which crushes one plate under the other to form a subduction zone where pressure from the friction build up is released, causing an earthquake. Constructive plate boundaries where the earth’s crust moves apart and where the mantle rises towards the crust and solidifies this creates friction and creates an earthquake. Conservative plate boundaries move side by side each other in similar or different directions and when they rub against each other this causes friction and then the release of pressure causes an earthquake.

The infrastructure and buildings in MEDC’s are made very differently than in LEDC’s, for example in San Francisco most building are built with brick and stronger more rigid materials and then earthquake proofed or retrofitted. An example of an earthquake proofed building is putting the building on wheels under the ground to try to make the building move with the earthquake. An example of retrofitting a building would be putting rubber shock absorbers under the buildings to try and keep the building from shaking; also you could put a heavy roof weight on the roof to try to counter the shock waves. In LEDC’s such as Costa Rica; the locals use different materials such as bamboo as it is: strong and sturdy but can bend easily and moves with an earthquake for minimal damage also it is cheap and grows very quickly which is very important for people who live in LEDC’s as they simply cannot afford the “hi-tech” materials that MEDC’s can.

In MEDC’s there is a much lower death count and a lot larger insurance cost when in LEDC’s there is a lot larger death count and a lot lower insurance cost; this is because MEDC’s are a lot more prepared for an earthquake because they have better emergency services who are well trained and know exactly what to do, they are better educated so they have a larger knowledge of what to do during an earthquake, and possibly have experienced many drills of earthquakes as well. However MEDC’s have a much larger insurance cost than LEDC’s because people have enough money to pay for insurance and materials are a lot more expensive than in LEDC’s. when some LEDC’s cannot afford insurance; the death count is also a lot higher in LEDC’s than MEDC’s because LEDC’s have sometimes more densely concentrated areas of people and if an earthquake hits one of those areas then there will be massive amount of lives lost.

In the short term the MEDC’s will be worse off because they have things like gas pipes, power and water mains to think about. If an MEDC had a gas leak it could cause a fire which would spread through the city like it did in the earthquake in San Francisco of 1989. But the LEDC’s would have a bad short term effect because of the many homeless people and demolished buildings, but it will have a more devastating effect in the long term as it will take the authorities and the people years to rebuild the same society that they had because they don’t have money. Whereas San Francisco rebuild quickly as there is a lot financial support from insurance companies and the government; for example in the San Francisco earthquake 1989 the government signed a bill of over $3.5bn to recover the city.

The best way to act in the risk of an earthquake is the three P’s: plan, prepare and prediction. Using the first one and second P’s we can plan and prepare what to do in the result of an earthquake such as buy good equipment for the emergency services and educate people to know what to do in an earthquake. In the third P we should invest money in scientists who can predict where the next earthquake is going to be; for example, near San Francisco there is a seismic gap on the northern American and pacific plate boundary, this means that the is a gap where no earthquakes have occurred recently which means that it is highly likely that there will be an earthquake there soon.

My conclusion is that there are lots of differences between how LEDC’s and MEDC’s look at earthquakes and I think that the LEDC’s are the people who suffer most from earthquakes because it is just so hard for them to put their lives back to normal on their own and without a lot of financial support.

Who do you think is worse off?

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      Frankie 3 years ago

      Really informative on the different aspects related and concerning the events during the aftermath of such significant natural occurrences. Especially useful in the comparison of more/less economically developed countries. It's the perfect research source for my half term yr 9 geography assessment. THANKS

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      steve 4 years ago

      very helpful