Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 August 2000



(2000), "EARTHQUAKES AND OTHER GEOLOGICAL HAZARDS", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 9 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited



California Institute of Technology (TriNet)

TriNet is a five-year collaborative project among the California Institute of Technology, the California Division of Mines and Geology, and the US Geological Survey to create an effective real-time earthquake information system for Southern California. TriNet incorporates new technologies to distribute vital information within minutes of an earthquake, thus helping to mitigate the impact of large earthquakes in the region. The system as designed to aid both scientists and emergency managers. Through continuous monitoring of seismicity in Southern California, TriNet produces rapid estimates of earthquake times, locations, and magnitudes, enabling direct estimates of the strength of ground shaking near earthquakes. Its products include maps (through a program known as ShakeMap) showing the distribution of ground motion and a pilot earthquake early warning system. For more information about TriNet and ShakeMap, see the TriNet Web site or contact: James Goltz, California Institute of Technology, Mail-Code 252-21, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. Tel: +1 (626) 395-3298; Fax: +1 (626) 584-7242; e-mail:

Multi-disciplinary Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER)

On 21 September 1999, a devastating earthquake struck the central region of Taiwan. The quake became known as the "921" or "Ji-Ji" earthquake. Subsequently, researchers from the Multi-disciplinary Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) at the State University of New York at Buffalo and colleagues from the National Centre for Research on Earthquake Engineering (NCREE) in Taiwan held a workshop in Taipei to identify short-term strategies and actions for post-earthquake restoration and research needs, including specific co-operative projects that would involve researchers from both centers. A report on the disaster, based on discussion at the meeting and subsequent reconnaissance, MCEER/NCREE Response: Preliminary Report from MCEER-NCREE Workshop on the 921 Taiwan Earthquake, is available from the MCEER Web site above. A limited number of printed copies are available from the report editor: Jane Stoyle, c/o MCEER Information Service, State University of New York at Buffalo, c/o Science and Engineering Library, 304 Capen Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-2200, USA. Tel: +1 (716) 645-3391; Fax: +1 (716) 645-3399; e-mail:

In addition, at the same address MCEER has published a preliminary report on the Athens, Greece, earthquake of 7 September 1999. MCEER colleagues at the Institute of Engineering Seismology and Earthquake Engineering (ITSAK) provided this preliminary report, which presents strong motion data and examines structural response to the event.

MCEER, in partnership with the Northeast States Emergency Consortium (NESEC) and FEMA, has established a listserve for discussion of issues related to the use and application of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)/FEMA loss estimation software, HAZUS. To join the list send the command "sub HAZUSNET-USA-LIST [your name]" to the address above (leave the subject line blank). This listserve will be regularly archived and moderated for content.

Applied Technology Council (ATC)

In a recently published "TechBrief", the Applied Technology Council (ATC), in cooperation with the US Geological Survey (USGS), offers safety guidelines for entering earthquake-damaged buildings under emergency conditions. The guidelines are based on engineering research by ATC members and aftershock research by scientists at the USGS in Menlo Park, California. Tables summarising the degree of risk for structures, based on the amount of initial damage and probabilities of aftershocks, are included in the report. ATC Tech Brief #2, Earthquake Aftershocks: Entering Damaged Buildings may be downloaded from the ATC Web site above. Alternatively, professionals involved in post-earthquake building evaluation can order individual free copies from the Applied Technology Council, 555 Twin Dolphin Drive 1550, Redwood City, CA 94065. Tel: +1 (650) 595-1542; Fax: +1 (650) 593-2320; e-mail:

As an added note, scientists at the USGS began forecasting aftershocks following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Now, after any earthquake in California of magnitude 5 or greater, the Survey posts the probability of strong aftershocks on its Web site:

Soil Liquefaction Web site

The Soil Liquefaction Web site was developed to provide general information for interested lay persons and more detailed information for engineers on this seismic phenomenon. Visitors who are not familiar with soil liquefaction can find answers to such typical questions as: What is soil liquefaction? When has soil liquefaction occurred in the past? Where and why does soil liquefaction commonly occur? and, How can soil liquefaction hazards be reduced? For each question more detailed information is provided separately for earthquake and engineering professionals. The site is well illustrated with photographs and animated graphics and includes links to much additional information on liquefaction and earthquakes in general.

National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering (NISEE)

The National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering (NISEE) at the University of California, Berkeley, has added the Jan Kozak Collection of Historical Earthquake Images to its extensive online collection of modern earthquake engineering images. The Kozak collection of 876 slides (many with multiple images) depicts artistic representations of earthquakes from 54 countries between the years 1120 and 1932. This compilation is an historical art collection and a scientific record of earthquake occurrence and hazard. Many images provide "macro-sessmic" details of occurrence location, intensity, and damage that can be compared with historical earthquake catalogues. The artistic treatment of cultural themes associated with sudden natural forces touches on folklore, scientific, and religious interpretations of seismic events. The collection, which is indexed both spatially and chronologically, can be explored on the NISFE Web site above. A preface to the collection written by earthquake expert Bruce Bolt and an historical bibliography of sources accompany the collection.

US Geological Survey

The US Geological Survey has been monitoring landslides electronically for many years. Now, through this nifty Web page, the survey offers a next-generation form of monitoring a "Virtual Field Trip of the Slumgullion Earth Flow" in southern Colorado. The site transmits live shots from video cameras positioned around this massive flow (a viewer can pan across and zoom into the various scenes from his or her computer), as well as a 15-chapter monograph on the flow entitled "The slumgullion earth flow: a large-scale natural laboratory", edited by D.J. Varnes and W.Z. Savage.

Climate Change, Severe Weather, and other Atmospheric Hazardshttp://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Climate Prediction Centre Web site covers forecasts, climate monitoring, data and indices, El Nin¬o, and lots of other stuff. There's a host of information here on climate and weather anomalies. For example the "US Threats Assessment" page at the second URL above covers short-term (three to five day), medium-range (six to ten day), and long-range forecasts. The page includes North America maps showing projected temperature/wind, precipitation, and soil/wildfire anomalies, and other data, such as a table of rivers currently at or above flood-stage.


NOAA has recently put together an education Web site to consolidate the many educational activities and resources distributed across the agency. The site has separate sections for teachers and students but is also designed to aid librarians and the general public. It includes extensive information on severe weather and other atmospheric hazards.

Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG)

The Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research has released a new bibliography on the use and value of weather and climate forecasts, available from the URL above. This bibliography represents the initial document in what ESIG hopes will become a single resource for published, peer-reviewed articles on the use and value of weather and climate forecasts. This topic is a subset of the broader area of forecasting in the earth sciences, which interested persons can learn more about through another section of the ESIG Web site entitled "Prediction in the earth sciences", available at:

The authors of the bibliography solicit feedback and welcome suggestions for additions.

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

From its Web site, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) now offers, in downloadable PDF format, the complete text of Confronting Climate Change in California: Ecological Impacts on the Golden State. In their press release, the study's sponsors, the UCS and the Ecological Society of America, state:

The report ... provides the state's citizens and policymakers with a scientific assessment of the likely impacts of [expected warming] on the state's diverse environments and the goods and services they provide. [The authors] conclude that climate change poses a range of serious challenges for California's environment, economy and quality of life [including]:

  • Increased winter precipitation will fall mostly as rain rather than snow. Thus, less water will be stored in the snow pack while more water will runoff immediately, adding to winter flooding and landslide problems. Changes in the water cycle will likely lead to water shortages during the late spring and summer, worsening drought conditions, irrigation needs and water use conflicts. Crops that require large amounts of irrigated water, such as grapes, cotton and alfalfa, will be among the hardest hit.

  • Warmer summers will tend to intensify the summer drought, potentially leading to hotter, harder-to-control wildfires, especially if Santa Ana winds also increase. Higher temperatures will warm the ocean and likely raise the sea level by 8 to 12 inches over the next century, amplifying current problems with storm surge, beach erosion and flooding during major winter storms. El Nino events, with their dramatic impacts on California's weather and economy, may become more frequent and/or more intense as the climate changes.

The report's authors emphasise other consequences to the region's ecology and human population and suggest possible strategies for dealing with this evolving problem.

Tropical Cyclones

The destructive power of a tropical cyclone instills fear in those in its path and intrigues atmospheric scientists interested in its dynamics. This Web site guides the viewer through the formation, structure, energy, and movement of tropical cyclones using sketches, radar and satellite imagery, and animation.

Stormweb Emergency Information System

Since 1996, the Stormweb Emergency Information System has provided real-time disaster reports and emergency information to the residents of coastal Washington and the Olympic Peninsula. Under normal circumstances, Stormweb provides links to:

  • surface and marine weather, satellite, and radar information road condition reports;

  • tide and river information, etc.

Stormweb will soon also offer a broad database of disaster preparedness information and a comprehensive library for researchers.

When potential emergency conditions develop, Stormweb operations increase. Conditions are continually monitored and updates are sent out to Stormweb subscribers by e-mail when warranted. Watches are posted online when they are issued. As conditions progress from watch to warning status, Stormweb shifts to 24-hour real-time reporting of information consolidated from dozens of sources. Stormweb's advisory system - "STORMWEB ALERT" - provides emergency bulletins, preparedness information, and periodic newsletters via e-mail at no cost. Interested persons can sign up via the Web site.

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