As the Syrian Civil War enters its sixth year, seismic hazard might not immediately come to mind, but there is a reason it should. According to research presented at the AGU Fall Meeting, new estimates of the number of earthquake fatalities that could be expected in Turkey under several potential earthquake scenarios are 3 to 20 percent higher when Syrian refugees are counted in seismic risk models. In the April issue of EARTH Magazine, read how researchers at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville made this discovery, which will provide vital data for disaster mitigation and response efforts.
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and American Geophysical Union (AGU) have released a recording of the latest AGU/AGI Heads and Chairs webinar. This month's session focuses on legal issues related to field trips and field courses. The webinar, led by panelists David Mogk from Montana State University and Steven Whitmeyer from James Madison University, serves as a guide for reducing risk and liability for geoscience departments, and reviews tips for properly planning a safe and enjoyable field trip.
Throughout history, humanity has steadily increased its dependence upon technology. Although technology has vastly improved the quality of life for billions of people, it has also opened us up to new risks and vulnerabilities. Terrorism and natural disasters might be at the forefront of the minds of policymakers and the U.S. population, but a significant threat lurks over our heads: the sun. A massive solar storm, the size last seen a century and a half ago, could easily leave hundreds of millions of people in the dark for days, weeks or even months.
The probability that a given natural hazard could become a natural disaster is higher today than at any previous point in history, largely because of population growth putting more people and infrastructure in harm's way. Who pays for the damage and how is value and risk assessed? Much of it comes down to insurance and reinsurance agencies, which are relying more and more on sophisticated catastrophe modeling tools to help gauge when the next disaster will strike, and how much it will cost.
Global seismic hazard maps exist to help societies and decision-makers anticipate and prepare for earthquakes. These maps are supposed to depict the maximum level of ground shaking likely to be produced by an earthquake in a given area. In the past decade, however, ground motions and death tolls in areas struck by earthquakes have far exceeded these maps' projections. Thus, scientists are calling into question the standard methods used to estimate seismic risk, and accepted assumptions and calculations have come under fire.
About 75 million Americans in 39 states face a significant risk from a strong earthquake. Because of this significant risk, the Congressional Hazards Caucus Coalition will sponsor an earthquake hazards briefing Tuesday, September 20 at 3:00 pm, in room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.