As we're sure you're probably already aware by now, we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. As part of the celebrations, we are running a very special competition to send one lucky group of geographers to Iceland at 1986 prices. It was whilst putting this competition together that we started to wonder what was going on in the world of geography in 1986. As it turns out, it was a very busy year for geographers!
On 26th April 1986, what was to become the worst nuclear accident in history took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in the Ukraine. The explosion of one of the plant's four main reactors had catastrophic effects on the local area, with 31 people killed at the time of the disaster and a further 1 million more potentially affected since. Four square kilometres of pine forest next to the plant was destroyed and to this day there remains an exclusion zone of 1,000 square miles. Effects of the accident were felt as far away as Scandinavia and Wales.
San Salvador Earthquake
The capital of El Salvador, San Salvador experienced a devastating earthquake on 10th October 1986. Whilst the earthquake itself relatively moderate in size (it registered a moment magnitude of 5.7), the epicentre was just 7km from the surface, which is why it caused such a significant amount of damage. It is estimated that 1,000 - 1,500 people were killed, a further 10,000 were injured and around 200,000 were left homeless. The next earthquake to hit the area came just 15 years later, in 2001.
International Geosphere-Biosphere Founded
The International Council for Science created the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme in 1986 to coordinate international research on how Earh processes (such as the carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, water and phosphorus cycles) interact with human systems. The programme's findings were used to help inform policies on global sustainability. The programme closed at the end of 2015, although several of its projects will continue.
'End of Eden' Released
Renowned South African environmentalist, Rick Lomba, released his film 'End of Eden' in 1986. The film focused on the destruction of Africa's fragile ecosystems, particularly with regards to the introduction of cattle ranching in southern Africa, which was a key concern for Lomba. The film promoted several sustainable alternatives, including wildlife farming.
Can you remember any other key developments or news stories from the world of geography in 1986? We'd love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below, or tweet us.
Looking to inspire the next generation of geographers? Contact Jenny, our Geography Specialist today to find out what we can arrange for your group.