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hazards

Natural solutions could save $50 billion in Gulf Coast flood damages

As coastal development skyrockets and the effects of climate change escalate, flooding is becoming an increasingly common threat. A new statistical analysis of the costs and benefits of various coastal protection methods along the U.S. Gulf Coast suggests communities could prevent a significant amount of flood damage by implementing a combination of natural defenses and built infrastructure.

10 Aug 2018

Plumbing Masaya's lava lake

In recent years, volcanic activity at Nicaragua’s Masaya Volcano has been relatively benign, with small eruptive episodes occasionally producing a lava lake in a summit crater that has become one of the country’s top tourist attractions.

24 Jul 2018

Hazards in paradise: Indonesia prepares for natural disasters

Indonesia is a lushly beautiful and tectonically active country that is prone to natural disasters, including eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, tornadoes and landslides. What is the country doing to monitor and prepare for such hazards and are those efforts working?

06 Jul 2018

Tracking Hurricane Harvey's freshwater plume

On Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast as an unexpected Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 209 kilometers per hour. After rapidly intensifying over the Gulf of Mexico, it hovered over southeastern Texas for days, slowly weakening as it dumped 68 trillion liters of water onto the land — more than three times the volume of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

30 Jun 2018

Toxic treatments: Lead lingers in folk remedies

Despite drastic reductions in lead poisoning since the 1970s, some children are still being exposed to lead from atypical sources, including cosmetics and folk remedies with often-unknown origins. Medical geologists are on the case.

25 Jun 2018

Benchmarks: June 15, 1991: Mount Pinatubo erupts

Twenty-seven years ago this month, the calm in central Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines, turned to chaos. On June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo disgorged 5 cubic kilometers of material over a few hours, and ash clouds soared 35 kilometers into the atmosphere. The substantial eruption — the second largest of the 20th century — burned itself into memories and history books.

15 Jun 2018

"Dam levels critical" in Cape Town

At first glance, a visitor to Cape Town might not notice the extent of the parched conditions — people still go about their business, amid the same kind of hustle and bustle you would find in other major cities. But looking closer, there are signs that something is not right. People standing in buckets to conserve water during showers is one such sign, and bottled water flying off grocery store shelves is another.

13 Jun 2018

Taking the surprise out of sneaker waves

Since 2005, more than two dozen confirmed fatalities in California and Oregon have been caused by so-called sneaker waves, which surge far ashore with little warning, sometimes catching beachgoers by surprise. Most beaches in the Pacific Northwest and California have posted signs warning visitors of the hazard, but few scientific studies have been done on sneaker waves and, currently, there is no consensus on their definition or origin. 

01 Jun 2018

Airport earthquakes continued after injection ended

Since Oct. 31, 2008, when seismic activity was first detected, hundreds of earthquakes smaller than magnitude 3.4 have peppered a fault zone that partly underlies the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in north-central Texas. After the quakes were linked to the subsurface disposal of wastewater fluids from oil and gas operations in wells located within a kilometer of the initial quakes, wastewater injections into those wells were halted in August 2009. 

31 May 2018

Cape Town faces a waterless future

The city of Cape Town, South Africa, is bone dry. In 2017, after two straight years of drought, a third drought year offered more of the same.. This past January, city leaders announced that they would shut off the taps to the municipal water supply in April because that was when “Day Zero” — the day when the water supply would run dry — was predicted to occur. Day Zero has since been pushed back to sometime in 2019, but, for 4 million Capetonians, living under the specter of a day without water is the new normal, and signs of that reality litter the city. Sometimes literally.

22 May 2018

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