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This is the first of several posts featuring incredible images of rockfall and landslide damage associated with the Christchurch earthquakes.  It is mirrored from Dave Petley’s Landslide Blog.

This post shows the impact of a large boulder on a house.

This is the (beautiful) house in question – the cliffs that were the source of the boulder can be seen in the background.  Note the distance that the rock has travelled:

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For the last decade I have maintained a database of landslides that cause loss of life in Nepal.  This work was started as part of a DfID project on landslide risk assessment for rural roads in that country and in Bhutan. As part of that project we tried to extend the database back to 1968, although the older data is less robust.  This work is now part of the larger project that I undertake on landslide-induced fatalities, but I retain a particular interest in Nepal because it is both highly landslide-prone and subject to rapid changes in both climate and social setting.  This data is written up properly in Petley et al. (2006) – this can be downloaded for free from here, with an update in Petley (2009) and a write-up of the role of climate on landslide occurrence across Asia in Petley (2010).

At the request of a few people, the graph below shows the data for the period 1980 to 2010 inclusive.  The solid black line shows the numbers of recorded deaths due to landslides in Nepal for each year for the period 1980 to 2010, whilst the dashed line shows the number of recorded landslides that caused one or more deaths:

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A new report published by IHRR from the interdisciplinary project ‘Building Rural Resilience in Seismically Active Areas’  is now available .  This research focuses on how to increase the resilience of rural communities in Nepal to earthquakes and their secondary hazards, such as landslides.  There is a clear role to play for both the physical and social sciences to engage with communities vulnerable to earthquakes, especially communities in developing countries such as Nepal.

There is much discussion about what is ‘public engagement with science‘ and what it accomplishes for researchers as well as the communities they work with.  This research brief introduces some of the activities researchers used to engage with rural communities in Nepal about the physical causes of earthquakes as well as obtaining an understanding of people’s own knowledge of hazards, which plays an important role in building resilience.  A good starting point for increasing resilience is identifying what scientific knowledge is needed by communities as well as working directly with those communities who live in rural areas that are most vulnerable.  These along with other recommendations given in the report provide an initial framework for fostering resilience.

Report: Building Rural Resilience in Seismically Active Areas

Regular readers will be aware that one aspect of my research is to collect data on the occurrence of landslides that kill people worldwide.  I have been doing this since September 2002; occasionally I publish this data on this blog.  In this presentation I examined this data to look at the occurrence of landslides triggered by earthquakes. Overall in the period from 1st September 2002 to 31st December 2010 I recorded a total of almost 82,000 fatalities from landslides.  This figure shows the cumulative total of fatalities during this period: Read more

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is indeed one of the greatest nuclear accidents in history.  Nuclear power is a complicated technology.   On the one hand it promises a relatively ‘safe’ and ‘cheap’ source of energy, on the other it carries a number of risks including nuclear waste disposal, threat of radioactive contamination and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Whether nuclear power is genuinely safe, cheap or clean has been debatable since government initiatives throughout the world first pushed for nuclear as the answer to the world’s energy problems.  There are clearly a number of questions that arise including what deems a nuclear power plant to be safe?  What are the risks involved in the life cycle of a nuclear reactor?  And how should nuclear technologies be governed by society?

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Japan has experienced a large number of aftershocks since the initial 9.0 earthquake in March.  The USGS has recorded 726 aftershocks so far and according to a recent report affected areas are very much in need of aid as 15,077 people have been reported missing and around 500,000 people have been displaced.  There are also large amounts of debris from damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami.  This tragic scenario, combined with the risks posed by leaked radiation from the damaged nuclear reactors, makes this one of the worst disasters Japan has ever faced in history. Read more

Mega cities often receive all the attention when it comes to earthquake risk reduction activities, but what about rural communities living in seismically active areas?  As the recent earthquakes in Kashmir, Pakistan and Sichuan, China have shown, rural populations are vulnerable not only to the shaking but also the secondary hazards associated with earthquake events.  In this blog post series, Katie Oven and Nick Rosser summarise a scoping study funded by the NERC and ESRC which focuses on rural communities specifically and explores how science and local knowledge can be combined to build resilience at the local level.

The aim of our scoping study is to understand community perceptions of earthquake-related hazards in rural areas of Nepal, and the factors increasing the vulnerability of rural communities to seismic hazards, in order to identify current research needs across the physical and social sciences. Read more

The post below is mirrored from Prof Dave Petley’s blog.  He describes the Sendai earthquake from a geological perspective noting that these events were far from unusual taking into account the seismic history of the region.

The impact of the Sendai earthquake, and the media coverage of it, is undoubtedly extraordinary.  This is a tragedy that has so many dimensions, ranging from tragedy (in so many cases) to ecstasy (as a survivor is found), including farce and the surreal.  It plays on our fears of the breakdown of society; of catastrophic loss of all we hold dear; and of being trapped.  The ongoing nuclear crisis brings back memories of the Cold War, a drum beat to which so many of us grew up.  And the effects of the disaster continue to ripple outwards, and will do so for years to come, as the financial markets, insurance industry and energy generators strive to face the consequences.  Of course for most of us life will go on essentially as before, but in every case at least some, often intangible, elements will have changed. Read more

The earthquake that struck Japan 11 March is the largest on record in the country’s history.  It is also one of the largest recorded earthquakes in the world.

Director of Hazards research in IHRR, Dr Alex Densmore, was interviewed by The Guardian about the aftershocks that have taken place since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake first hit Japan.  Much of Densmore’s research has focused on large earthquakes and their secondary hazards, including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in ChinaRead more

NASA posted a new map yesterday that shows the shaking intensity of the earthquakes that took place in and around Christchurch.  According to their website: ‘The deeper the red color of the circle, the more intense the “peak ground acceleration,” or shaking of the earth. Note how intensity is highest right around the most densely developed areas of Christchurch.’ Read more

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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