Natural disasters happen all over the world, and they can be utterly devastating for people’s lives and the environments in which they live. Although natural disasters are caused by nature and there is nothing that we can do to prevent them happening, there are many different natural causes that lead to natural disasters, and being aware of these causes enables us to be better prepared when such disasters do arrive.
One common natural disaster is flooding, which occurs when a river bursts its banks and the water spills out onto the floodplain. This is far more likely to happen when there is a great deal of heavy rain, so during very wet periods, flood warnings are often put in place. There are other risk factors for flooding too: steep-sided channels cause fast surface run-off, while a lack of vegetation or woodland to both break the flow of water and drink the water means that there is little to slow the floodwater down. Drainage basins of impermeable rock also cause the water to run faster over the surface.
Earthquakes are another common natural disaster that can cause many fatalities. The movements of the plates in the earth’s crust cause them. These plates do not always move smoothly and can get stuck, causing a build-up of pressure. It is when this pressure is released that an earthquake occurs. In turn, an earthquake under the water can also cause a tsunami, as the quake causes great waves by pushing large volumes of water to the surface.
Tsunamis can also be caused by underwater volcanic eruptions. Volcanic eruptions are another natural disaster, and they are caused by magma escaping from inside the earth. An explosion takes place, releasing the magma from a confined space, which is why there are often also huge quantities of gas and dust released during a volcanic eruption. The magma travels up the inside of the volcano, and pours out over the surrounding area as lava.
One of the most common natural disasters, but also one of the most commonly forgotten, is wildfires. These take place in many different countries all over the world, particularly during the summer months, and can be caused by a range of different things. Some of the things that can start the wildfires can be totally natural, while others can be manmade, but the speed at which they spread is entirely down to nature. The two natural causes of wildfires are the sun’s heat and lightning strikes, while they can also be caused by campfires, smoking, fireworks and many other things. The reasons that they spread so quickly are prolonged hot, dry weather, where the vegetation dries out, which is why they often take place in woodland.