7 junio, 2024

What are Geographical Phenomena?

The geographic phenomena are those drastic and observable changes that take place in nature. They can occur abruptly and are capable of transforming the environment, in such a way that, after these phenomena occur, a new reality arises.

Geographic phenomena are complemented by geographic facts, which refer to elements that are stable and whose variations are perceived over longer periods.

So, in nature one starts from a geographical fact. Then a phenomenon is usually generated that generates an abrupt variation in the environment, and the new reality that is generated later becomes a new geographical fact.

Geographic phenomena can be classified according to the elements from which they are produced. This classification includes three types: physical, biological and human.

Types and characteristics of geographic phenomena

– Physical geographic phenomena

Physical geographic phenomena refer to those that are generated without involving any living organism. These drastic changes normally occur as a consequence of climatic, physical or chemical elements, among others, generated naturally.

Within the physical geographic changes can be found hurricanes, cyclones, torrential rains and earthquakes, among others. The physical geographic changes that are generated are capable of transforming the landscape and generating a new reality.

Some examples of physical geographic changes can be:

river overflow

A river can overflow as a result of different natural causes. Some of the possible causes may be the following:

As a result of heavy and sustained rains in a short time
consistent rains for a long time
Obstruction of channels due to landslides
sea ​​level rise

When a river overflows, it can cause lasting changes to the landscape. It is possible that the river widens its channel permanently, that it inundates plant species from the surroundings and, if there are human communities nearby, it is possible that it washes away houses, buildings, roads and other constructions.

volcano eruption

The eruption of a volcano is generated by the movement of tectonic plates, or by the accumulation of pressure from magma (molten rock that exists in the depths).

In either case, the eruption of a volcano is considered a physical geographic phenomenon because it occurs without the intervention of living individuals.

When a volcano erupts, it can bring definitive consequences to its environment, in which the following stand out:

The destruction of fauna as a consequence of the lava
Devastation of the flora by the action of ash
Generation of forest fires
Even if the eruption is very large, it can increase the greenhouse effect as a result of the absorption of heat from the ash ejected out of the atmosphere.

– Biological geographic phenomena

Biological geographic phenomena are those that are generated by living beings, excluding humans.

Within this classification are the geographical variations produced by plants, animals, insects and microorganisms.

Some examples of biological geographic changes can be:

Deforestation by plague

The appearance of pests can destroy large extensions of flora. Pests can appear, for example, as a consequence of an imbalance in the fauna; if there are no natural predators, a species can become a pest.

Pests especially affect plants located on land with few nutrients, and can result in the deforestation of entire regions and completely altering the environment.

Pests can also greatly reduce the number of animal organisms in an area.

Species extinction

It is possible that a species disappears due to natural causes, without the intervention of the human being. For example as a consequence of physical phenomena, such as droughts, fires or floods, among others.

The extinction of a species can permanently alter the entire ecosystem of which it is a part. The cycles of nature can vary, as can the structure of food chains.

– Human geographic phenomena

These phenomena are among the most obvious and, in many cases, invasive that can be found on the planet. Human geographic phenomena are caused exclusively by the action of man in his environment.

Like physical and biological phenomena, human geographic phenomena alter the environment in lasting ways. As a result of these transformations, positive and, in many cases, also negative consequences can be generated.

Some examples of human geographic phenomena:

track construction

As a result of the need to expand its communication channels, the human being has transformed its environment. This has implied the construction of roads and paths that openly intervene in the environment.

The construction of this type of structures has been beneficial for the development of the human race, allowing to expand the interaction between men and generate more effective communication.

However, in some cases the intervention has been harmful to nature, because some ecosystems have been affected.

As a consequence of this type of construction, entire species of flora and fauna can disappear, or diversions of water courses can be generated, among other manifestations.

dam construction

Hydraulic dams are structures, made with walls and retaining elements, whose main function is to store or divert river water to fulfill different purposes.

Among the functions of a water dam are the regulation of water supply in a particular region, the storage of water to be used for irrigation or energy production.

By building a dam, humans intervene to a large extent in nature. These constructions generate positive consequences for human life, such as the production of renewable energy, flood control in certain areas and the fact of facilitating access to water for human consumption.

On the other hand, the construction of dams is considered a geographical phenomenon because it permanently transforms the environment:

It generates stagnant water, which can bring diseases
Blocks the passage of different marine species, affecting migratory movements
Promotes the extinction of entire colonies of organisms that make life in rivers.


«Definition, application of geography and representations of the earth» at the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics: inegi.org.mx.
Borrajo, J. «Environmental effects of road construction» (March 1999) in Carreteros. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from Carreteros: carreteros.org.
Castro, G. «Impact and Consequences of Dams» (June 8, 2005) in Ecoportal. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from Ecoportal: ecoportal.net.
Tablado, A. «Dam» in the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research: mendoza-conicet.gob.ar.
Taylor, J. «What Causes a Volcanic Eruption?» on eHow in Spanish. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from eHow in Spanish: ehowenespanol.com.
Martí, J. “Why do volcanic eruptions occur? Is it possible to predict them? (August 5, 2011) in Public. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from Public: publico.es.
Martínez, N. «Consequences of the eruption of volcanoes» in eHow in Spanish. Retrieved on August 17, 2017 from eHow in Spanish: ehowenespanol.com.

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