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Causes of Seismic Phenomena: Earth Oscillations from Hurricane Katrina

The destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was unlike anything people had seen in a hurricane before.

One aspect of the storm that often doesn’t get much attention entails the seismic changes that occurred due to the storm and the resultant shift in earthquake frequency and severity in the region.

Hurricanes can produce significant sediment movement, as the immense wind speeds and precipitation associated with the tropical system can blow the sediment in many directions.

Such motions can place stress on fault lines, often causing them to rupture. The fast erosion triggered by a hurricane can produce earth oscillations. These shifts often change the structure of the local area.

Such seismic phenomena can be found in many hurricane systems. Hurricane Katrina is one of the most prominent examples of this point.

However, the causes and consequences of hurricanes can be more dramatic due to thermal power plants. The increasing water temperatures worldwide could also be a problem, as warmer water can make many hurricanes more intense.

So, what are the causes of seismic phenomena? And how do global warming, thermal powerplants and hurricanes impact them?

Keep reading to find out!

Hurricanes and Massive Seismic Changes

A hurricane will trigger the erosion of many surfaces due to the vast wind speeds blowing many items around.

The excess stress can cause active faults to become more active. Massive wind and storm conditions in Taiwan have caused erosion in the country, and the region has become more seismically active, with earthquakes and tremors becoming more frequent and more severe.

Extensive erosion can be a concern, with Hurricane Katrina being a good example of this change. During the storm, seismic activities in the nearby city of Macon, Georgia, were measured to see how they were changing.

seismic phenomena - image of house collapsed in a landslide with exposed earth behind it

The seismic activity became more prominent as the eye of Katrina reached the Gulf Coast. The high wind and rain conditions at the time were causing the earth oscillations to develop.

Many essay samples and studies surrounding hurricanes have focused on the damages caused by the storm. Some hurricane Katrina essays often detail concerns about how the local ecosystem has been damaged.

The changes in soil quality in the area from seismic damages have been dramatic. Future studies may be necessary for reviewing further points on how the environment has changed due to the storm, but current reports have found that seismic changes will make things worse than people might expect.

Oscillations Make It Harder For Some Surfaces To Stay Intact

The increased oscillations from Hurricane Katrina caused many properties to become damaged or destroyed. The damage led to environmental pollution through construction debris.

The most common way construction debris can spread from a storm came from a drop in soil quality.

The top layers of soil are easy to peel off and destroy during a hurricane. It becomes more challenging for the soil to promote stability and to manage healthy water flow.

The risk can cause some properties under construction to shift, as many materials might come loose and slide into the local environment.

seismic phenomena - construction debris

The construction debris that comes from a spot will varies, but often includes plastic, wood, metal, chemicals and even small pieces like nails and chunks of insulation. These items clog waterways and may leave materials that will enter a local water supply.

Pollution from construction materials can cause the effects of a storm to become worse than one may expect.

The number of affected people from Hurricane Katrina has been significant, with many of their properties being destroyed.

The seismic phenomena and changes in the area made it harder for many properties to stay intact. The issue could also make it harder for some structures to remain stable and safe.

Seismic Phenomena & Chemical Spread

The new openings produced by seismic phenomena in areas surrounding a hurricane can become areas of concern due to the spread of chemicals in the area.

Chemical and energy production sites produce various toxic compounds which enter the air. However, when they’re flooded or otherwise damaged by a hurricane, the threat of chemicals, fuels and toxic compounds spreading from the site increases.

Seismic changes can increase the severity of these impacts and spread them further afield, through the soil and groundwater.

seismic phenomena - gas station destroyed by hurricane irma

While Hurricane Katrina caused many chemicals to spread around the Gulf Coast, it is not the only hurricane to impact the area to produce such drastic effects.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused the release of about a million pounds of toxic materials like benzene. The carcinogenic nature of the material caused the air quality to become dangerous in parts of the Gulf Coast following the storm.

This video by BBC Newsnight shows the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey:


Thermal Power Plants & Hurricanes 

Thermal power plants can also become a problem during a hurricane.

A thermal plants use heat energy to produce electricity. Such plants can also use coal or natural gas to help generate the power necessary for people in a local area.

Hurricanes are often strong enough to damage these power plants and keep them from producing energy.

In addition, these plants may not perform as well if the air pressure changes too much, which it does during a hurricane.

The changes in air pressure from a hurricane can become a dramatic worry on some thermal plants.

The Impact of Thermal Heat Generation & Global Warming 

The heat generated from a thermal power plant could also be a significant concern when it comes to the intensity and severity of hurricanes.

Many tropical systems become more intense and dangerous when the air and water conditions are warmer.

Since thermal plants require heat for operation, they are often more likely to produce enough warm air that can trigger hurricanes to be more substantial.

seismic phenomena - thermal power plant

The water temperature in the area will be higher closer to the surface. The water can be around 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in many environments.

The number continues to drop as one gets deeper into the water, eventually reaching near-freezing conditions after getting at least 2,000 meters under the water. The added heat produced by a thermal plant can be hard to manage.

People will often write about how global warming is triggering this concern. While evidence on global warming has been scattered, there has been enough proof that water temperatures worldwide are starting to rise.

The general threat of this change is one of the most dramatic subjects to review surrounding how tropical systems are changing.

Will Hurricanes Become Worse?

There’s a need to look at managing the climate around the Gulf Coast and elsewhere to prevent storms from becoming as strong as Hurricane Katrina. But the timeframe for resolving these concerns is limited.

The increasing water temperatures in the global climate are causing hurricanes to become stronger and more common.

Proper energy control and alternatives for thermal energy are necessary for success. The goal should be to prevent future hurricanes from becoming worse.

Keeping these hurricanes in check is essential for preventing future seismic phenomena, seismic activity and erosion in the Gulf Coast and elsewhere.

How Can We Reduce the Risk of Hurricanes and Seismic Phenomena?

While it is often tough to prevent hurricanes from developing because they form thousands of miles off of the coast and are too massive to corral, people can reduce the risks associated with these hurricanes.

Shifting to cleaner, green energy options and stalling climate change is a key factor in reducing the intensity and frequency of hurricanes.

Part of the work can involve lowering the environment’s reliance on thermal energy in high risk areas and using safer and more natural forms of energy.

Communities can focus on using natural energy as a suitable power source. Hydroelectric power and solar power are among the most valuable solutions to consider.

seismic phenomena - green energy options - solar and wind farm

Wind energy may also work, although its effectiveness will vary surrounding the potential for wind conditions to trigger the turbines.

Other solutions can include producing materials that focus on renewable power instead of coal, natural gas, or other items. Electric cars are useful to find, as they won’t require as many resources to operate.

The manufacturing of more items and buildings that use solar panels can also work. These include  massive materials or buildings like lighthouses. These items can reduce energy and heat production, creating a better result for managing power.

About the Author

Michael Fox is a professional ecologist from Raleigh, North Carolina. He has more than ten years of experience studying hurricanes and their impact on human life and nature. Part of his work includes a focus on healthcare and technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Seismic Phenomena refer to?

Seismic Phenomena are phenomena related to the shifts and movements of the earth, which are associated with earthquakes and tremors. They're associated with interactions from other processes and result in changes in pressure, composition and alignment of various plates of lithosphere. Read the full article for more on Seismic Phenomena.

What is seismic activity?

Seismic activity refers to earthquakes and their size, severity and frequency in a specific area, over a defined period of time. Read the full guide for more on seismic activity and how it is impacted by severe hurricanes.

How does global warming affect hurricanes?

Increased temperatures and water temperatures at sea are associated with an increase in the severity and intensity of tropical storms. As global temperatures rise, so will the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Check the full article for more on global warming, hurricanes and seismic activity.

References and Useful Resources

Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions: Hurricanes and Climate Change

Science Daily: Strong Storms Generating Earthquake-like Seismic Activity

Science Direct: Thermal Pollution

Science Direct: Seismic Phenomena – An Overview

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