Nature's warning signs

Chilean Earthquake

In this module, we discuss how people can better understand and adapt to the environments they live in.

We look at some of Earth’s natural landforms, processes and systems and how they affect where we live and interact with the natural World.

Populations living on and around plate tectonic boundaries are under constant threat of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Communities in alpine regions are affected by snow avalanches.

Low-lying oceanic island nations are increasingly aware of the tsunami threat.

We discuss how people can better understand and adapt to the environments they live in e.g., developing Early Warning Systems (EWS) for tsunami events and using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for volcanic hazard assessment.


Examples of desktop-based case studies that we discuss are:

  • Death Valley Nevada, USA where tectonics creates the topography and shapes the drainage
  • The Hawaiian Islands where a ‘hotspot’ has created the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain of volcanoes
  • These locations provide excellent opportunities for Geographers to map change, understand Earth processes that shape our World and investigate ways that human populations can cope with living in hazard-prone locations.
Image shows homes that were destroyed after the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 7, 2010 in Constitution, Chile.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)