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As the autumn term is upon us there are a variety of new research seminars coming up in IHRR. More will be added in due course, but this is the list thus far:
Building resilience to landslides in mountain communities
10 October, 12:30-14:00
To kick off the start of this academic year’s seminar series Executive Director of IHRR, Prof Dave Petley, will give a fascinating seminar on research in mountain communities that are vulnerable to landslides. He argues that an alternative approach is needed to build resilience to landslides in less developed countries that reside in mountainous regions of the world, especially in Asia and Central America. For those interested in this topic see also Building Rural Resilience in Seismically Active Areas.
A 6.9 magnitude earthquake in the Himalayas has severely damaged a number of areas including parts of India, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, killing over 100 people. The epicentre of the quake at the border of Taplejung, Nepal and Sikkim in northern India produced destructive shaking throughout the region. Most news reports have been focusing on the death toll of the hazard and rescue efforts, along with mentioning of landslides caused by the earthquake. Landslides have blocked emergency services who need to move the debris in order to gain access. A short video clip of debris being moved from a landslide caused by the quake is available here.
It is likely that Kathmandu could be struck by an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in the future and this recent quake has been seen as a forewarning by some researchers. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) spoke with Director of IHRR Prof Dave Petley about the possibility of a large magnitude earthquake impacting Nepal:
“The main area of concern is in central and west Nepal, where there has not been a large earthquake for a long period,” Petley told AFP after Sunday’s 6.9-magnitude quake damaged hundreds of homes in the east of the country. Read the rest of this entry »
A few months ago I featured the UK Government’s response to the Ashdown report, which sought to review the ways that Britain provides assistance to both slow onset and sudden crises, including both social (e.g. conflict) and hazard related (e.g. earthquake) events. Today, DfID (the UK Government department responsible for foreign aid) released its new policy statement on this topic, providing details of both priorities and modes of operation.
Overall, I think that this is a very positive development, and there is much to cheer in the document. The thrust is set out in the Foreword by the Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell, who notes that
Lord Ashdown’s report was clear: we will achieve far more in the long run if we pull together and collectively channel our efforts through a coordinated international system. Governments across the globe must share the burden of helping those in humanitarian need. We will work first and foremost through the UN, lending our full support to its Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Amos, as she strives to help the UN-led humanitarian system to reach its full potential.
I am not entirely sure how this squares with the Government’s announcement in March this year that ‘The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) has not performed its international co-ordination role well. The UK will still be a member of UNISDR as it is part of the UN Secretariat, but DFID will no longer provide additional voluntary funding. This funding averaged £0.9m between 2002 and 2010’ (see a detailed discussion here). But presumably this indicates that alternative mechanisms will be found (the same document was complimentary about UNDP and GFDRR). The new policy document does talk about the need to improve UN leadership and coordination; it will be interesting to see how this might be achieved. Read more
While it is rare for the east coast to experience an earthquake there are still faults in the region that can and do cause earthquakes. According to the USGS, there have been earthquakes in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone at least since the 18th century, with a 4.8 occurring in 1875 and a 4.5 in 2003. What made this earthquake especially interesting is that shaking from the quake was felt not only along the east coast, but actually spread hundreds of miles from the epicentre. People in states as far as Illinois or Georgia actually reported shaking in their areas. This is because the bed rock of the east coast is quite solid and less fractured than the west coast allowing energy from the earthquake to travel much further.
A map from the New York Times using USGS data compares shaking reports from the Virginia earthquake with another quake in California in 2004:
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: