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Multi-hazard disaster risk identification for World Cultural Heritage sites in seismic zones

Mohammad Ravankhah (Department of Heritage Studies, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)
Michael Schmidt (Department of Environmental Planning, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)
Thomas Will (Institute of Building History, Architectural Theory and Historic Preservation, Faculty of Architecture, TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 4 September 2017

Issue publication date: 18 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to develop an integrated multi-risk identification procedure for World Cultural Heritage (WCH) sites exposed to seismic events, while considering characteristics of disasters from earthquakes in a multi-hazard context on one side and particular aspects of WCH (e.g. outstanding universal values and associated condition of authenticity and integrity) on the other.


An interdisciplinary review of current relevant approaches, methods, and practices is conducted through the existing literature of disaster risk management, heritage conservation, and seismology. Furthermore, a document analysis of concrete cases affected by seismic events supports concepts and the procedure.


This paper results in a methodology of identifying multi-risk of disasters induced by earthquakes. A bow-tie analysis diagram in combination with a risk identification matrix is developed for illustrating a multiple emergency scenario in identifying possible impacts of earthquakes’ primary effects, secondary hazards, and human-threats on tangible and intangible attributes of cultural properties.

Practical implications

The research aims to provide specialists and practitioners from multiple sectors engaged in pre-disaster risk mitigation and preparedness plan for cultural heritage with a practical risk identification tool. The proposed method, in a multiple hazard context, intends to enhance risk assessment procedure for determining more appropriate risk reduction strategies in the decision-making process.


This paper, through emphasising “earthquake disaster risk” rather than “earthquake risk”, illuminates the significance of quake-followed secondary hazards, potential human-induced hazards and human errors in the risk identification process, due to the fact that while a disaster may begin with a quake, its full scope might be triggered by a combination of the mentioned potential threats.



Ravankhah, M., Schmidt, M. and Will, T. (2017), "Multi-hazard disaster risk identification for World Cultural Heritage sites in seismic zones", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 272-289.



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