The forces that sustain life on our planet also have the power to alter it drastically. Some unprecedented Earth’s movements can result in deadly natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Below, we’ve listed the seven most dangerous natural disasters on Earth.
Landslides occur when rocks and soil slide down a slope of land due to heavy rains, minor earthquakes, volcano eruptions, gravitational force, and human activities like mining, construction, and quarrying. Soil movement away from the foundation, sudden decrease in groundwater level, and cracks in the ground indicate landslides.
Slopes, hillsides, previous landslide areas, and islands are the most prone to landslides. Hence, understanding the nature of landslides is crucial. Allowing for effective planning while using available land and ensuring legal possibilities for constructing new infrastructure will help effectively cope with landslides. Proper enforcement of land-use regulations also helps minimize landslide risks.
Volcanoes are openings that connect the inner part of the Earth to the surface. When a volcano erupts, it spews out hot lava, poisonous gases, and ashes. The formation of volcanoes is due to the convergence and divergence of tectonic plates under the Earth, and you can find the most volcanoes in the mid-Atlantic and Pacific ridges.
A volcanic eruption occurs when the pressure in the magma chamber inside the Earth increases, causing magma to be pushed to the surface through volcanic vents. Volcanic eruptions can be extremely destructive to surrounding areas and even aircraft passing through the region due to the high amount of heat released into the atmosphere. Volcanic tremors, small earthquakes, and ejection of steam and gases are indications of volcanic eruptions.
Tornadoes are extremely powerful and dangerous rotating air storms originating from clouds and reaching the earth’s surface. Depending on air pressure, these storms form several shapes, including the condensation funnel, and can attain wind speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes can be due to thunderstorms, mixing cold, moist air with hot air, leading to instability and violent tornado formation.
Tornadoes can destroy entire cities and uproot trees completely. They can occur on all continents except Antarctica, and Tornado Alley, comprising North Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, is the most tornado-prone area globally. The top regions with the highest frequency of tornadoes include Oklahoma, United States, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, New Orleans, United States, and Florida, United States.
Lightning is a natural phenomenon where electricity flows through the air like a sudden flash. It occurs when ice particles collide, forming charges beneath clouds. When this charge concentrates at a point on earth, a sudden flow of electricity passes through it. This can affect anything in its path, such as mountains, trees, animals, or humans.
With a temperature of up to 54000 degrees Fahrenheit, lightning is approximately six times hotter than the surface of the Sun. Around 100 lightning strikes occur every second on Earth. It has enough power to destroy everything in its path within no time. This natural disaster mainly hits areas with environmental instability and temperature or pressure variations.
Tsunamis are enormous waves triggered by natural events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other disturbances in the ocean. These waves can have heights that reach hundreds of meters and travel for thousands of miles, often striking coastal regions. The speed of tsunami waves depends on the depth of the ocean rather than the distance from the source of the disturbance. This means that they move faster in deeper waters.
However, as they approach the coast, their speed slows down, but their height increases. Around 80% of all tsunamis happen in the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” a geologically active region marked by earthquakes and volcanoes. Some countries most prone to these most dangerous natural disasters include Albania, Chile, Japan, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Hurricanes are powerful and rapidly rotating storms that arise from warm tropical waters. Also referred to as typhoons or tropical cyclones, these storms can spread across 600 miles and rotate inward and upward at speeds of 70 to 200 miles per hour. Usually, hurricanes develop in oceans where the water temperature goes beyond 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind blows in the same direction as the upward force.
The evaporation from seawater also contributes to the strength of hurricanes. Although these storms lose some power when they hit land, they can still generate heavy rain, high waves, and strong winds. Some cities most prone to hurricanes include Tampa and Naples in Florida, Honolulu in Hawaii, and Savannah in Georgia, all in the United States.
Earthquakes are one of the most dangerous natural disasters faced by humans ever. The rough edges of tectonic plates on Earth’s surface are in constant motion, sliding over each other. However, when the plate surfaces get stuck, some forces help overcome the friction and keep the plates moving. Unfortunately, the energy released during this process comes as seismic waves that can shake the world.
Thousands of earthquakes happen worldwide daily, but most are too small to detect, while others can destroy everything in their path. Seismometers measure the intensity of seismic waves produced by earthquakes on the Richter scale. A magnitude of 3 or lower indicates a weak earthquake, while a magnitude of 7 or higher can destroy an entire city.