Physical Geography

Earth Science

Earthquake Case Study: Kobe, Japan

Kobe Earthquake

Early in the morning of 17th January 1995, the Japanese city of Kobe was struck by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9. The centre of the city was worst hit, around the main docks and port area.

Print out and read the account of what happened and then read this article about why some earthquakes are more dangerous than others. Now answer the following questions.

  1. Why is Kobe in a dangerous area and prone to earthquakes?
  2. Why are areas of soft ground, especially reclaimed land, so vulnerable during earthquakes?
  3. Large earthquakes happen every year, but not all result in high numbers of deaths and / or vast repair bills. Why is this?
  4. After an earthquake, the Emergency Services often face major access problems. Explain why access around an earthquake area can become severely restricted.
  5. The initial shock waves can be the cause of deaths and injuries. What other factors influence the death and injury levels after the initial shock waves?
  6. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of buildings made of modern materials such as re-enforced concrete and traditional materials such as wood during and after an earthquake?
  7. Pick out the key points mentioned in the account, and make notes on the event. Cover why and where it happened, the damage it caused and the effects it had on the people living in Kobe. These notes will be useful as the basis of a Case Study to use in the exam.
Another Earthquake : San Francisco 1989

Now take a look at the eye witness accounts of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. After reading all the accounts produce a short newspaper article, reporting on the event, from the point of view of the people living and working in San Francisco at the time.


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