In late 2020 and early 2021 we saw earthquakes in Croatia, Argentina, Turkey, the Philippines, New Zealand and Indonesia (just to name a few). They have caused damage, injuries and loss of life. In the same period we have also seen the volcano, Mount Etna, erupting again in Sicily, and eruptions continue in Hawaii and the Caribbean islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
So why do people still live in these hazardous areas? There are many reasons for this ranging from cultural beliefs, to poor urban planning, personal perceptions of the risks faced or even because of the actual benefits the location normally provides. For some, they just don’t have the means or resources to move.
Scientists and disaster managers are taking huge steps in the monitoring and predicting of hazards such as droughts or hurricanes, and systems have improved greatly in monitoring and predicting volcanic eruptions over the years. Earthquake prediction, however, is more complicated. The mapping of seismic activity patterns may give us clues as to where the ‘big one’ might happen in a very broad area (e.g. central Italy!) but the when, the magnitude and exact locations are still very difficult to predict. This is where disaster managers and different organisations can help to mitigate the consequences by being prepared to respond and support communities should an earthquake strike. They can also help by educating communities on the risks they face and actions they can take to try and reduce the impacts to themselves, their homes and businesses and also what actions they should take when warnings are given or the hazards arrive. In this session we will start to think about some of these challenges in more depth and look to examples of how planning and education can help keep communities informed and prepared to take action when necessary.
Leanne Hunt is Course Director Disaster and Emergency Management in the School of Energy, Construction & Environment at Coventry University.
The powerpoint is available to download here.
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