CVEN 3698 - Lecture Notes 3
As an engineer, you should be aware of the existence of geologic hazards and their potential impact
on engineering projects. Geologic hazards are geologic phenomena that present common risks to life
or property. Geologic hazards are usually identified during site exploration and investigation. The
purpose of the lectures on natural hazards is to familiarize you with both the causes and effects of
such occurrences and alert you to proper scientific solutions and land-use management practices that
can alleviate or eliminate disastrous consequences.
Natural geologic hazards can be divided into two groups. First, those associated with particular earth
materials. Examples include swelling soils and rocks, toxic minerals (asbestos, acid drainage) and
toxic gases (radon gas). The second group includes hazards associated with earth processes
(earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, avalanches, rock slides and rock falls, soil creep, subsidence,
floods, frost heave, coastal hazards).
Natural hazards are complemented with man-made hazards such as water pollution, mine
subsidence, rock bursts, pumping, waste disposal, carbon emission, global warming, and ozone
depletion. Understanding these hazards requires a multidisciplinary approach. These issues are
interdisciplinary with biology, engineering, chemistry, and environmental sciences.
Geologic hazards are not predictable and often result in loss of life, property losses and indirect
losses (e.g. business disruption). Geologic hazards are not trivial or forgiving; in terms of loss of life,
geologic hazards compare with the most severe catastrophes of this century (see Tables 1 and 2).
Precise figures are difficult to compute, but the monetary and human loss due to such hazards is