Geography 1700- Natural Disasters It’s a course in which I learned about natural hazards, disasters and catastrophes. Throughout the semester I learned many processes which could have cause them. Natural processes such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis become hazards when they threaten human life and property. I learned that we live in nature earth and how it affects humans emotionally, economically and physically. I was well informed about personal safety and how to prepare, prevent for future hazards.
Guatemala a country known as the land of eternal spring, located in Central America between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, due to its location and geography it’s at high-risk for natural hazards and disasters such as: earthquakes, volcanic active eruptions, landslides, flooding, etc.
One of the hardest years for Guatemala Natural Disasters was on 2010:
Here is Pacaya volcano erupting small amount of gas.
Original picture taken by me
Double click to watch video. This is an original video of Pacaya ejecting small gas cloud.
It all started by the most active volcano named Pacaya, a composite volcano also known as strato volcano as stated in class its built of lava flows, pyroclastic deposits, it’s very explosive dangerous and currently active. Pacaya is located 20 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City, Antigua and south of a water-filled Amatitlan Caldera (Caldera as I learned in class was a giant volcanic crater produced by an extremely violent eruption or by a collapse of a summit area of a volcano after an eruption). Pacaya Erupted on May 27th 2010 it started by strong tremors which later on lead to strong explosion of lava, debris and ash up to 1800 meters away in which was able to reach the Aurora airport. Around 20,000 people were evacuated, about 4 people died from the eruption, one person was a reporter who was killed from volcanic asks, many kids were missing and more than 20 people were injured. This volcano is still active today and it last erupted on January 2, 2013.
Volcanic ash eruptions can create several hazards for example: In this picture structural damage to buildings occur as ash piles up on roofs. Crops and trees also got destroyed from ash eruptions.
American Airplane covered with Ash from the volcanic eruption
Tropical Storm Agatha
A tropical storm as I learned in class and in Natural Hazards third edition textbook is a system of thunderstorms around a circular low pressure center that derives its energy from warm ocean waters and has winds between 63km- 119 km per hour; weaker than a hurricane. On May 29th 2010, two days after the eruption from the Pacaya Volcano. Guatemala coastal area was hit by a Tropical Storm Agatha arriving from the Pacific Ocean, excessive rainfall caused lahars, landfalls, landslides and flooding. The storm had winds of about 45mph according to the US National Hurricane and about 20-30 inches of rain had fallen in Guatemala that evening. 112,000 were evacuated, 152 people died, 20,000 people were reported homeless. Other areas reported more than 36 inches of rain the heaviest rainfall over the past 60 years. Cost of damage from eruption of volcano Pacaya and Storm Agatha was 7,885 million quetzales, $982 millions in US money.
Flooding defined in class was high water level in a stream, lake or ocean that may damage human facilities.
Landslide in San Antonio, Polopo
A landslide in this picture caused by water and slope angles is a downslope movement of mud, sand, rocks.
May 31, 2010 Couple days after Storm Agatha a sinkhole appeared in Guatemala City. This sinkhole could have been form by a drain that slowly saturated the surrounding soil for a long time just before Tropical Storm Agatha came long and dumped excessive water that broke the sewage pipes and caused the final collapsed. The hole is 60 feet wide and 300 feet deep. It swallowed a three story building and an intersection.
Right were the arrow points is a missing building and an intersection
Sinkhole seen from above
Conclusion (Personal Reflection):
I learned that a return period when a volcanic eruption is going to happen can be estimated from geologic evidence of past eruptions but prediction of when is actually going to happen is still not exactly known.
With increasing population volcanic risk also increases. Since most of volcanic locations are known, life loss may be minimized with prediction and evacuation plans.
I also learned that consequences of Hazards may be minimized by; proper land used and engineering evaluation of construction sites if is done before construction, but they cannot be always be avoided.
I learned that the best thing to do for a natural hazard is to prepare, write a list of what to do and what to not do. In many cases is best to choose your own personal plan.
Since Guatemala was aware of the Storm coming I knew that if I were to be there I would personally evacuate the area as soon possible.
Keller, Edward A., Robert H. Blodgett, and Duane Edward. DeVecchio. Natural Hazards: Earth's Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophes. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2012. Print.
Hayley.Lake Atitlán.November 16, 2012.San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala. March 17, 2013 Wagner, Joni. May 28, 2010. Guatemala Volcano ‘Pacaya’. March 17, 2013. "A Rough Week for Guatemala." Boston.com. The Big Picture, 2 Jan. 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2013. <http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/06/a_rough_week_for_guatemala.html>. "Pacaya." Wikipedia. N.p., 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacaya>. "Lake Atitlan Guatemala Tropical Storm Agatha Update San Antonio Palopo Landslide Lake Atitlan Guatemala Landslide at San Antonio Polopo Ã¢ÂÂ Travel & Mayan Ruins in Mexico and Guatemala." Travel Mayan Ruins in Mexico and Guatemala. Mayan Trip, 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2013. <http://mayantrip.com/lake-atitlan-guatemala-agatha-update-san-antonio-polopo/landslide>. Than, Ker. "Sinkhole in Guatemala: Giant Could Get Even Bigger." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 01 June 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2013. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/06/100601-sinkhole-in-guatemala-2010-world-science/>.