introduction

introduction - Natural Disasters & Assessing Hazards...

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This page last updated on 26-Aug-2007 EENS 204 Natural Disasters Tulane University Prof. Stephen A. Nelson Hazardous Processes z Most hazardous process are also Geologic Processes. z Geology is the study of the Earth and its history. z Geologic Processes effect every human on the Earth all of the time, but are most noticeable when they cause loss of life or property. Such life or property threatening processes are called natural hazards. If the process that poses the hazard occurs and destroys human life or property, the a natural disaster has occurred. Among the natural hazards and possible disasters to be considered are: { Earthquakes { Eruptions of Volcanoes { Tsunamis { Landslides { Subsidence { Floods { Droughts { Hurricanes { Tornadoes { Asteroid Impacts z All of these processes have been operating throughout Earth history, but the processes have become hazardous only because they negatively affect us as human beings. Important Point - There would be no natural disasters if it were not for humans. Without humans these are only natural events. z Risk is characteristic of the relationship between humans and geologic processes. We all take risks everyday. The risk from natural hazards, while it cannot be eliminated, can, in some cases be understood in a such a way that we can minimize the hazard to humans, and thus minimize the risk. To do this, we need to understand something about the processes that operate, and understand the energy required for the process. Then, we can develop an action to take to minimize the risk. Such minimization of risk is called hazard mitigation . z Although humans can sometimes influence natural disasters (for example when poor levee design results in a flood), other disasters that are directly generated by humans, such as oil and toxic material spills, pollution, massive automobile or train wrecks, airplane crashes, and human induced explosions, are considered technological disasters, and will not be considered in this course. Page 1 of 7 8/26/2007
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z Some of the questions we hope to answer for each possible natural disaster are: { Where is each type of hazard likely to be present and why? { How often do these hazards develop into disasters? { How can each type of disaster be predicted and/or mitigated? Assessing Hazards and Risk As discussed before, natural disasters are produced by processes that have been operating since the Earth formed. Such processes are beneficial to us as humans because they are responsible for things that make the Earth a habitable planet for life. For example: z Throughout Earth history, volcanism has been responsible for producing much of the water present on the Earth's surface, and for producing the atmosphere. z
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introduction - Natural Disasters & Assessing Hazards...

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