9 types of natural disasters and their definition

Popularly we speak of natural disasters when a natural phenomenon produces serious or irreparable damageleaving huge losses in its wake.

Although there are those who say that there are no “natural disasters” in themselves, but rather disastrous consequences of a natural phenomenon, in the common use of language this difference is not established.

Thus, when we talk about a natural disaster, we normally refer to the following types of phenomena:

Earthquakes or earthquakes

Earthquakes or earthquakes are geological phenomena that consist of the sudden movement of the telluric layers of the Earth due to a fracture or landslide. The collision between the tectonic plates produces seismic waves that expand throughout the interior of the earth and are only normalized when they manage to release all the energy of the movement and recover mechanical balance.

See also Earthquake or Earthquake.

Volcanic eruptions

Volcanic eruptions are geological phenomena that consist of the violent emission of material that comes from the interior of the Earth, transformed into lava and gases, as a consequence of the increase in the temperature of the magma.

tidal waves and tsunamis

A tidal wave is a seismic movement whose epicenter is located at the bottom of the ocean, which causes the sudden movement of the aquatic mass. This seismic movement can be produced either by the collision of tectonic plates or by a volcanic eruption.

tsunami It is a word of Japanese origin that refers specifically to the phenomenon of wave expansion of gigantic proportions towards the shore, and is always the result of a tidal wave.

Therefore, all tsunamis They are tidal waves, but not all tidal waves produce a tsunami. Tsunamis qualify as geological phenomena.

See also: Tsunami.

Landslides (mass movements)

In this category, you can recognize mass slides of materials, such as snow, ice, rocks, earth or vegetation that roll down a slope in an uncontrolled manner, destroying everything in their path.

The following can be mentioned:

avalanches or avalanchesthat is, snow or ice slides, along with other materials that it drags;
landslides which often result from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or soil instability.
alluvium or mudslides or mud, which result from the action of water that penetrates the ground.

See also Avalanche.


Flooding is a natural phenomenon that consists of the occupation of space by water that has been diverted from its natural channel due to its disproportionate accumulation. It can be the result of intense rains, abrupt melting of snow, the action of hurricanes and typhoons, rising tides or earthquakes and tsunamis.

See also Floods.

Atmospheric phenomena

It refers to all phenomena produced by changes in atmospheric conditions. However, not all of them qualify as a “natural disaster.” In this category we can mention the following:

hurricanes; tornadoes; thunderstorms; waterspouts; hail storms that cause serious damage to crops; droughts, which can lead to famine; heat waves; blizzards; sand storms; the simun or “poisonous winds” of the Sahara.

Forest fires

A forest fire is called a fire that spreads through forested areas, and wreaks havoc on the flora and fauna of the affected perimeter.

This type of fire is usually difficult to control, due to the highly flammable nature of the materials, the strength of the winds (which spread it faster or make it change direction unexpectedly) and the inaccessibility of the locations.

See also Fire.

Biological disasters

It refers to epidemics or pandemics that spread uncontrollably due to the spread of an infectious agent. As an example, we can mention the Black Death in medieval Europe.

Space phenomena

They are those natural phenomena that occur in space orbit and that have an effect on planet Earth, direct or indirect. In this category they qualify:

the impacts of cosmic originpopularly called meteoriteswhich, according to their size, can cause significant damage when hitting the ground; solar stormswhich affect satellites, space missions and communication networks.

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