Skip to main content

MEDC'S vs LEDC'S: Earthquakes

This is the cypress freeway in San Francisco



What are the differences in the effects of earthquake strikes between MEDC’S and LEDC’S?

An earthquake is the sudden release of energy inside the earth’s crust which creates seismic waves. Earthquakes mainly occur near the edges of plate boundaries. They occur in the form of 3 types of plate boundary. Destructive plate boundaries; where one plate is crushed under the other to form a subduction zone, where, pressure from the friction build up is released causing an earthquake. Constructive plate boundaries; where the earth’s crust moves apart, the mantle rises towards the crust and solidifies this creates friction and creates an earthquake. Conservative plate boundaries move side by side each other in similar or different directions and when they rub against each other this causes friction and then the release of pressure causes an earthquake.

The infrastructure and buildings in MEDC’s are made very differently than in LEDC’s. For example, in San Francisco most building are built with brick and stronger more rigid materials. They are then earthquake proofed or retrofitted. An example of an earthquake proofing strategy is placing the building on wheels under the ground to try to make the building move with the earthquake. An example of retrofitting a building would be installing rubber shock absorbers under the buildings to try and keep the building from shaking. Another would be to install a heavy roof weight in an attempt to counter the shock waves. In LEDC’s such as Costa Rica; the locals use different materials such as bamboo as it is strong and sturdy but can bend easily and moves with an earthquake for minimal damage. It is also cheap and grows very quickly, which, is very important for people who live in LEDC’s as they simply cannot afford the “hi-tech” materials that MEDC’s can.

In MEDC’s there is a much lower death count and a drastically higher insurance cost. In LEDC’s there is a much higher death count and a significantly lower insurance cost. A reason behind this is MEDC’s are a lot more prepared for an earthquake in terms of the emergency services who are well trained for these scenarios, they are better educated about what to do during an earthquake, and possibly have experienced many earthquake drills. However, MEDC’s have a much larger insurance cost than LEDC’s because citizens and companies have enough money to pay for insurance and the materials used are a lot more expensive than in LEDC’s. The death count may also be a lot higher in LEDC’s than MEDC’s because LEDC’s sometimes have more densely concentrated areas of people and if an earthquake hits one of these areas then there will be massive amount of lives lost.

In the short term; the MEDC’s will be worse off because they have infrastructure such as gas pipes, power and water mains to consider. If an MEDC had a gas leak it could cause a fire which would spread through the city like it did in the earthquake of 1989 in San Francisco. The LEDC’s would also struggle in the short term because of the many newly homeless people and demolished buildings, but, it may struggle with a more devastating long term effect as it will take the authorities and citizens years to rebuild the same society that they had because of the lack of resources and capital. Whereas, cities such as San Fransisco can rebuild quickly as there is a lot financial support from insurance companies and the government; for example in the San Francisco earthquake in 1989 the government signed a bill ensuring over $3.5bn in funding for the city to recover.

The best way to act when there is a risk of an earthquake is the three P’s: plan, prepare and prediction. Using the first and second P’s we can plan and prepare what to do in the result of an earthquake such as buy good equipment for the emergency services and educate people in what to do in the event of an earthquake. In the third P we should invest money in research and scientists who can look to predict where the next earthquake is going to be, for example, new techniques in AI and Machine Learning may be able to create more accurate insights in this endeavour than have been previously been possible.

Scroll to Continue

In conclusion, there are lots of differences between how LEDC’s and MEDC’s look and respond to earthquakes, but, I think that the LEDC’s are the countries who suffer the most. This is because of the initial reduced emergency service response and how hard it is for them to put their lives back together on their own without the financial support that MEDC's enjoy.


Frankie on October 20, 2014:

Really informative on the different aspects related and concerning the events during the aftermath of such significant natural occurrences. Especially useful in the comparison of more/less economically developed countries. It's the perfect research source for my half term yr 9 geography assessment. THANKS

steve on October 22, 2013:

very helpful

Related Articles