A natural disaster is a major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth, which can cause loss of life or property damage, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake, the severity of which depends on the affected population's resilience, or ability to recover. Examples include earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by vibration, shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground. A tsunami is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake, sometimes reaching heights of over 30.5 meters (100 feet), onto land. Volcanoes are essentially vents on the Earth's surface where molten rock, debris, and gases from the planet's interior are emitted.
Occurrence and locations
Most of these types of natural disasters occur along the rim of the Pacific Ocean, called the "Ring of Fire" because of the preponderance of volcanic activity there and where tectonic shifts make volcanoes and earthquakes common. Nearly 80 percent of all the planet's earthquakes and tsunamis happen there, while almost 90 percent of all volcanoes exist within the same region.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), since 1900 there have been more than 1100 significant earthquakes (with a magnitude greater than 7), 700 tsunamis, and 290 volcanic eruptions. The visualization below shows the geographical and temporal distributions of these events, as well as their magnitude, measured according to the Richter scale for earthquakes, the Iida-Imamura scale for tsunamis, and the Volcanic explosivity index for volcanic eruptions.
- Data sources:
- Earthquakes: https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nndc/struts/form?t=101650&s=1&d=1
- Tsunamis: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazard/tsu_db.shtml
- Volcanic eruptions: https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nndc/servlet/ShowDatasets?dataset=102557&search_look=50&display_look=50