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Understanding Extreme Geohazards: The Science of the Disaster Risk Management Cycle

European Science Foundation Conference
November 28 to December 1, 2011, Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain

Lisbon, Portugal, during the earthquake of 1 November 1755: The image shows the city shortly after the earthquake caused severe initial damage and fires, when the tsunamis arrived, causing rough waters in the harbor, sinking many ships and destroying the wharfs. The image shows a part of the cooper engraving made in 1755. The full engraving is available in the Jan Kozak Collection as Image KZ128. The original engraving is in the Museu da Cidade, Lisbon. The graphics is reproduced in O. Terramoto de, 1755. Testamunhos Britanicos The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, British Accounts. Lisbon: British Historical Society of Portugal, 1990. Source of the graphics file: Wikipedia.

Extreme geohazards and society: The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 had a profound impact on European culture, philosphy, politics, science and art. Some people attributed the high number of deaths to the high density of the population in Lisbon. In a similar way, we begin to understand that megacities in seismically active zones, coastal mega cities, and crucial infrastructure in hazardous areas are likely to amplify the impact of future extreme geohazards and to create disasters potentially exceeding by far the most recent extreme events. It is noteworthy that the societal reactions to the 2004 Sumatra and 2011 Japan disasters appear to be minor compared to the European-wide reactions to the 1755 Lisbon disaster. Humanity seems to have grown used to large-scale disasters. However, the most extreme geohazards our planet can produce could by far exceed what we have experienced in the last decade. The conference will address the characteristics of such extreme events, the risks of them occurring, and the challenges they pose for responsible disaster risk management.

Last edited 02 December 2016