70HjYX-introduction - Natural Disasters Assessing Hazards...

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This page last updated on 23-Aug-2011 EENS 2040 Natural Disasters Tulane University Prof. Stephen A. Nelson Natural Hazards and Natural Disasters A natural hazard is a threat of a naturally occurring event will have a negative effect on humans. This negative effect is what we call a natural disaster. In other words when the hazardous threat actually happens and harms humans, we call the event a natural disaster. Natural Hazards (and the resulting disasters) are the result of naturally occurring processes that have operated throughout Earth's history. z Most hazardous process are also Geologic Processes. 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. If the process that poses the hazard occurs and destroys human life or property, then a natural disaster has occurred. Among the natural hazards and possible disasters to be considered are: { Earthquakes { Volcanic Eruptions { Tsunami { 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, except when they occur as a secondary result of 8/23/2011 Page 1 of 9
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a natural disaster. 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? { What scientific principles govern the processes responsible for the disasters? { How often do these hazards develop into disasters?
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course EENS 2040 taught by Professor Nelson during the Fall '11 term at Tulane.

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70HjYX-introduction - Natural Disasters Assessing Hazards...

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