Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Post Earthquake Recovery

It is now a year after the Christchurch earthquake, nearly a year after the Great Honshu Earthquake and two years after Haiti. Here is a comparison between the states of recovery of each of these, and some thoughts on the reasons for the differences between these three very different events. Haiti:
Here are a series of photos taken in the same place immediately after the earthquake, 8 months later and then 2 years after:

A combination photograph shows Haitians walking near a damaged clothing store after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince almost two years later on Dec. 29, 2011 (top), eight months later on Sept. 30, 2010 (middle), and on the bottom Jan. 13, 2010. (Reuters)

A combination photograph shows the badly damaged Cathedral after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince almost two years later on Dec. 29, 2011 (top), on Sept. 30, 2010 (middle), and on the bottom on March 18, 2010. (Reuters)
A combination photograph shows Haitians walking in a badly damaged street after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, almost two years later on Dec. 28, 2011 (top), seven months later on Sept. 30, 2010 (middle), and on the bottom Feb. 3, 2010. (Reuters)

The most obvious reason for the slow recovery, is that Haiti is a developing country, the lack of immediate funds, and the various controversies around aid (here is an excellent overview from the Guardian), there are also ongoing hazards. Hurricane Tomas in 2010, and  Emily in 2011, brought intense rains to a region plagued by long term refugee camps. In the ongoing effort to cook and heat their homes, many of the slopes around the Haitian camps have been deforested in order to supply fuelwood, enhancing the risk of slope failures and landslides. (National Geographic article here, some background from the Red Cross here) and a video of the landslides:

These photos are some comparisons to Japan, this earthquake was 700 times more powerful than Haiti, yet the world has watched in awe, as all except the regions around the crippled Fukushima plant have been cleared and repaired rapidly, this picture shows the repairs made 6 days after the quake:

Here are a series of before and after shots, taken in June, only three months after the quake:

In this combo of two photos, a ship swept away by tsunami sits amid debris-covered residential area March 12, 2011, left, while the ship stays in the same position in the area getting cleaned up June 3, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Japan marks three month since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami Saturday, June 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
In this combo of two photos, a sea coast is filled with destroyed houses and debris at Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, on March 12, 2011, one day after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the area, top, and the same area, bottom, with the houses and debris cleared as photographed on June 3. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
In this combo of two photos, a shinto torii, or gateway, leading to Kozuchi shrine stands among the debris in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, northeastern Japan, on March 14, 2011, days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the area, top, and the same area, bottom, with the debris almost cleared as photographed on June 3. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
In this combo of two photos, damaged houses stand amid debris swept away by tsunami March 23, 2011, top, while those debris are almost cleared in the same area June 3, 2011 in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
In this combo of two photos, destroyed houses and debris fill a parking lot of a shopping center in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, northeastern Japan, on March 13, 2011, two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the area, top, and the same area, bottom, with the houses and debris cleared as photographed on June 3. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
So, considering the fact that this earthquake was significantly more powerful than Haiti, why was the destruction comparable (including the effects of the Tsunami) but why was the recovery rapid? As a start, the level of hazard resistant design was high, building codes were strictly followed, and there were mitigation measures in place, such as the Tsu walls, in some places these were 12 meters high. The warning system was in place, and worked, despite the fact that Tokyo had only three minutes warning for the arrival of the P waves, this was enough to get to shelter, or into an open space.

The frequency of the hazard was probably key, the last earthquake in Haiti, the previous earthquake was described as follows:
The earthquake of May 7, 1842, however, was the worst recorded in Haiti before this week’s catastrophic quake. It hit near Cap Haitien, a city of ten thousand inhabitants on the north coast of Haiti. Approximately half of the population died. Waves dashed against buildings along the quay. In the neighboring village of Port de Paix the sea withdrew 60 meters, only to come back to bury the city under four or five meters of water.
This long gap in significant events means that modern day Haitians, did not have a living memory of earthquakes, and in a country where the education system was not well established, and hazard management was not part of the active curriculum, there was little awareness of the risk, and building codes had not been followed, leading to such wide spread collapse. With the added issue of there being only one working seismometer in the country, that at the time had not been turned on, meant there was no warning, or monitoring in place, as opposed to Japan, where there is significant funding for prediction, and the quakes are regular.


Christchurch 2011, was an anomaly, and is a case study to use to illustrate the point that even a developed country, well used to earthquakes, with an integrated hazard management system, hazard resisitant design and a range of recovery practises in place, can suffer a devastating earthquake. In part, this was due to the quake itself, it was shallow, and close to the surface (5km depth). Another key factor was the nature of the substrate, the soft alluvial sediments meant that liquefaction was common, and affected up to 60% of Christchurch. Having suffered another, larger quake in the September before, this quake further weakened damaged buildings, and has caused a migration of people away from the region.

This series of before and after shots, from the week of the earthquake, to a year after, shows how slow recovery has been, and in part this is due to the high volume of significant aftershocks since last February.

So, the key differences are certainly development, money of course helps, the amount of aid received and the size of the quake, but there will always be other factors that create significant disasters from low Richter quakes, and those countries who can recover quickly from mega quakes.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Itinerary for Iceland

Itinerary for Richard Huish College 2012 Please remember this is subject to change with the weather!

Iceland Kit Letter - Sent December 2011

Iceland Kit Letter to Parents

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Iceland Clothing

A post specifically for those coming to Iceland! Below you will find the letters, kit list, itinerary and the PP for the parents meeting embedded so you can show you parents all the information they need.

Iceland 2012

First: clothing!

The key to staying warm in Iceland is Layers. You should be wearing something similar to the list below, and the reason for using a layered system, is that we are on and off the bus a lot, and that involves a temperature change of at least 10 degrees, sometimes as much as 25 degrees, hence, you need to be able to adapt to that quite quickly.

In my opinion, the key thing to ensure you have, is a good base layer, this should be a material that wicks away moisture from your skin, so you don't go out into the cold all sweaty, which is how you get cold fast. I normally wear a t-shirt over mine, they are sometimes a little transparent, followed by a good fleecy jumper (I take two) a soft shell layer (wind proof but not water proof) and covering all of that, a good waterproof.

These images are reproduced from Taunton Leisure, with permission, they currently have a sale on but I am not endorsing either the brands shown, or the store, this is for illustration only!

Few key points:

1) most important - looks don't matter for this week! Fashion, should not be a factor in deciding what to take, we don't really go out, when we do, you will want to be wearing all of the above anyway.

2) not to pick on the girls, but... No miniskirts, high heels, telling me tights will keep you warm - they won't.

3) if you are not appropriately dressed - you get to stay on the bus. That decision rests with me, you have been warned.

4) don't go out and buy the really expensive mountaineering kit - you don't need it, we are not going all Ray Mears, you just need to be sensible

5) buy new boots? Please break them in before you get to Iceland, y don't want blisters.

Secondly: Money

You may wish to buy some souvenirs, they will be expensive, so take an appropriate amount of money with you. If you would like to buys snacks, a chocolate bar and a can of drink will cost you around £4 at the moment, I recommend you take some snacks with you, the healthy variety such as dried fruits and nuts travel well and are good for you, but wee do not stop very often at places where you can buy a snack, they are included as part of your lunch, but if you do tend to eat more during the day, plan for this and take some with you.

A note on Icelandic foods: they run from the mundane and Starchy, to the outright bizarre (fermented rams testicles, shark rotted in its own urine etc) and sometimes, to the borderline ethical issues. Icelanders eat whale, and are relatively defencive about it. students in the stats have elected to buy a sample of said smoked minke whale, a staple of the Icelandic diet, that is up to you.

Third: Alcohol

The legal drinking age in Iceland is 20, as such, any one caught drinking, attempting to buy, or taking alcohol with them, will be sent home. Your parents will be advised of this in the meeting. The cost of being sent home sits with you, at times we are three hundred miles away fr an airport, in the most expensive country in Europe, that taxi will cost you several hundred pounds. Having spent £850 on the trip, please don't ruin it for yourself, and the staff by breaking this rule.

Fourth: Stuff to take

Realistically, you should pack to be outdoors, in a cold country, without much socialising in any fancy places. Nick and I look like Michelin men all week, you will too with all those layers, so don't worry about evening clothes, I take a pair of jeans for the evening, but you will need to stay wrapped up. You certainly don't need to take the following: party clothes, hair dryers, straighteners, footballs, laptops etc.

Other highly recommended items include: music, earphones, cards, a book, travel sickness pills, chargers, personal toiletries etc.

Other essentials: a sleeping bag, a hat, gloves, scarf/neck warmer, sunglasses ( it might be cold, but it is very, very bright, especially on the ice), any personal medication (legally, the staff are not allow to give you anything), hats are absolutely necessary, and a scarf is pretty handy.

Iceland Kit Letter to Parents Itinerary for Richard Huish College 2012

Friday, 3 February 2012

Dantes Peak Volcanology Revision

Dear All

As a nice and simple way to ease you all back in to tectonics after the various challenges of Poole, we are watching Dante's Peak in class, and you have some revision questions based on the order of events in the movie. If you failed to complete them in class, or were absent, or if you are from one of other colleges following the Blog (Hello Queen Mary's in Walsall and thank you for the lovely email!), you can download the questions, watch the movie, and I will post the answers up soon.

Enjoy the movie, it is one of my all time favourites!
Dantes Peak Questions Enjoy not working on 4B!!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Unit 4B fieldwork planning

Dear all

Many questions have come up about fieldwork, I have worked through one hypothesis, but here are my suggestions for an aim and what else should be included in a fieldwork question! See you all at 730 on the live blog.

Aim: To investigate the relationship between the regeneration and conservation issues in Poole

Hypothesis 1:

The building of the Twin Sails Bridge will significantly reduce the congestion in Poole

  • The Old bridge was built in 1927
  • It can halt traffic for up to half an hour
  • it is not cyclist/pedestrian/disabled friendly
  • Poole is a tourist Honeypot site and needs to improve facilities
  • People commute into the centre of Poole for work in the services sector
  • Poole has the European Ferry port
  • Before and after traffic survey (see guidance on Moodle)
  • Include new locations after the bridge is built and has been open for some time
  • Count over a systematically pragmatic choice of locations over a given time period, same time in each location
  • Us a group of geography students
  • Possibly locate secondary data from Borough of Poole on their site. 
  • Use a Mann Whitney U to compare results and assess for a significant difference
Risk Assessment:
  • Students must wear High Vis jackets
  • Groups of three as a minimum
  • appropriate clothing and footwear
  • Mobile Phone contacts to staff
  • Areas with pavements chosen

  • Only possible to do for one day as a group, would require a longer study over a summer and winter season to be significant
  • Could not make it to Poole for morning rush hour with students, so would only reflect evening rush hour
  • Bridge's and new road networks take a few months to bed in, and the old bridge will close for nine months this year in order to be refurbished. 
  • Would be difficult to cover a weekend and weekday as a group of students. 

Hypothesis 2: 

The regeneration of the Hamworthy Gate site, will not have a significant impact on the environment in Holes Bay

Risk Assessment:

Hypothesis 3:

The regeneration plans will significantly improve the quality of life in Poole
Risk Assessment: