Taxonomy term

natural hazards

Benchmarks: August 17, 1959: Hebgen Lake earthquake and landslide

By Callan Bentley

You’re camping in Montana, doing some fly fishing on the Madison River. You’ve had a full day of beautiful Big Sky country weather, and had fresh trout for dinner. In your campsite at the Rock Creek Campground, you go to bed satisfied and happy. It’s a nice enough evening that you sleep out in the open, to better appreciate the stars. The waters of the Madison gurgle by, gently lulling you to sleep while Orion shines above.

18 Aug 2009

Asia's hazardous month

August is shaping up to be a hazardous month for Asia — from the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean to Japan. In just the first half of the month, several earthquakes and two typhoons have struck the region. Here’s an update on these damaging events.

Japan

At 7:55 p.m. local time on Aug. 9, a magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck near Japan’s Izu Islands, 325 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. No death or damages have been reported.

11 Aug 2009

Earthquake shakes southern New Zealand

A magnitude-7.6 earthquake rattled the South Island of New Zealand at 8:22 p.m. local time Wednesday. No serious injuries or damages have been reported.

The quake's epicenter was 150 kilometers west of Invercargill, off the coast of New Zealand's South Island at a depth of 12 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards Program. Subsequent to the major tremor, the region has experienced several aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 5 to 5.8.

15 Jul 2009

When and why L'Aquila came tumbling down

Early on the morning of April 6, 2009, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake rocked the Apennine region of central Italy, killing more than 290 people and leaving at least 30,000 homeless. Some 15,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in L’Aquila, the largest city in the region. Although strong, the earthquake was not powerful enough to easily account for the high loss of life in a developed country. The devastation has prompted some researchers to investigate Italy’s seismic safety codes for new construction — but the problem may have more to do with retrofitting older buildings.

14 Jul 2009

Rebuilding Afghanistan

Ravaged by war, drought and natural hazards such as earthquakes and landslides, Afghanistan’s people face many challenges. But the country also has untapped resources — great natural beauty , deep supplies of groundwater and a vast mineral wealth, including coal, gems like emeralds and metals like copper and iron.

02 Jul 2009

Cityscape, 'wet regions' fueled Atlanta tornado

On March 14, 2008, at 9:38 p.m., something happened in Atlanta that had never happened in the city’s 171-year history: A tornado ripped through a 10-kilometer-long swath of the city’s downtown. The twister, with winds reaching 210 kilometers per hour, blew out skyscraper windows and stalled a major college basketball conference tournament.

23 Jun 2009

When wildfires attack: Should I stay or should I go?

As California enters its third consecutive year of drought, officials are standing by for the state’s wildfire season, set to peak later this summer. They have reason for concern: During the previous two summers alone, wildfires have burned more than 12,000 square kilometers and killed more than two dozen people. A new study offers advice on how California can minimize wildfire deaths and save property: Don’t force residents who live near the margins of forest and urban areas to evacuate; instead, give them the option of staying and defending their homes.

01 Jun 2009

Storms brewing over volcanoes

Two hundred years ago, a sea captain was sailing in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, when he observed “an immense body of smoke rising from the sea.” As he watched, the smoke, from a volcanic vent offshore of the island of St. Michael’s, began to rotate on the water “like a horizontal wheel,” the captain wrote in his 1811 account of the event. The rotating smoke and ash grew into a dark column and ascended high into the sky, spawning waterspouts and flashes of lightning.

09 Apr 2009

Earthquake prediction: Gone and back again

The 1990s and early 2000s were hard times for earthquake prediction research. “For 10 years, there was limited funding in the U.S.,” says Dimitar Ouzounov, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. That changed in 2004, Ouzounov says, after a magnitude-9-plus quake struck off the coast of Sumatra and set off a tsunami, killing more than 225,000 people in 11 countries.

07 Apr 2009

Earthquake rocks central Italy

Updated on April 7:

As of April 7, the death toll from the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck central Italy on April 6 has risen to more than 200 people. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency on Monday. On Tuesday, he told reporters that rescue efforts would continue for two more days.

06 Apr 2009

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