Earthquakes: effects and responses


The effect is the damage which happens as a result of the earthquake. The effects of an earthquake can vary depending on:

  • The size of the earthquake on the Richter scale - the higher it is on the scale the more destruction it causes.
  • Level of development - whether it occurs in a rich or a poor country. Richer countries will be more likely to be able to predict, and attempt to protect and prepare themselves from the effects of an earthquake.
  • The depth of the focus - if its shallow it can be more destructive.
  • Distance from epicentre - the effects of an earthquake are more severe at its centre.
  • Population density - the more people living in an area, the more likely to be more deaths and casualties.
  • The time of day - whether people are in their homes, at work or travelling.
We can classify the effects of an earthquake into the following categories:
  • primary effects - things that happen immediately as a result of an earthquake
  • secondary effects - happen in the hours, days and weeks after the initial earthquake


Responses are how countries react to an earthquake. They are categorised as follows:

  • Short-term or immediate - a response in the hours, days and weeks immediately after a disaster has happened. Short-term responses mainly involve search and rescue and helping the injured.
  • Long-term - responses that go on for months and years after a disaster. They can involve rebuilding destroyed houses, schools, hospitals, etc. They also involve kick-starting the local economy.