1st Edition

Natural Disasters

By David C. Alexander Copyright 1993
    652 Pages
    by CRC Press

    652 Pages
    by CRC Press

    As a well balanced and fully illustrated introductory text, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the physical, technological and social components of natural disaster. The main disaster-producing agents are reviewed systematically in terms of geophysical processes and effects, monitoring, mitigation and warning. The relationship between disasters and society is examined with respect to a wide variety of themes, including damage assessment and prevention, hazard mapping, emergency preparedness, the provision of shelter and the nature of reconstruction. Medical emergencies and the epidemiology of disasters are described, and refugee management and aid to the Third World are discussed. A chapter is devoted to the sociology, psychology, economics and history of disasters.; In many parts of the world the toll of death, injury, damage and deprivation caused by natural disasters is becoming increasingly serious. Major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods and other similar catastrophes are often followed by large relief operations characterized by substantial involvement of the international community. The years 1990-2000 have therefore been designated by the United Nations as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.; The book goes beyond mere description and elevates the field of natural catastrophes to a serious academic level. The author's insights and perspectives are also informed by his practical experience of being a disaster victim and survivor, and hence the unique perspective of a participant observer. Only by surmounting the boundaries between disciplines can natural catastrophe be understood and mitigation efforts made effective. Thus, this book is perhaps the first completely interdisciplinary, fully comprehensive survey of natural hazards and disasters. It has a clear theoretical basis and it recognizes the importance of six fundamental approaches to the field, which it blends carefully in the text in order to avoid the partiality of previous works. It covers the earth and social sciences, as well as engineering, architecture and development studies. This breadth is made possible by virtue of a strong emphasis on simple principles of the interaction of geophysical agents with human vulnerability and response.; All students of environmental sciences/studies and geography should find this book useful. It is an introductory text which treats this dramatic subject area as something demanding serious academic treatment and not just as an assemblage of horror stories.; This book is intended for undergraduate students in geography and environmental studies/sciences. The book should also appeal to any professional or researcher concerned with man- environment relations, whether in social science or natural science or engineering.

    List of tables




    The global program

    Definitions and basic concepts

    Misconceptions about natural disaster

    Time and space in disaster

    Formulating intensity measures


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    The Geophysical Agents

    Earthquakes and volcanoes

    The physical nature of earthquakes

    Predicating earthquakes

    The human impact of seismic hazards

    The lessons of recent events


    Volcanic eruptions


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    Atmospheric and hydrological hazards








    Glacier hazards

    Snow as hazard to the urban system

    Frost hazards


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    Disasters and the land surface

    Soil erosion



    Seismically generated landslides


    Soil hazards

    Coastal erosion

    Forest and range fires


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    The Human Impact and Response

    Damage and the built environment

    Earthquake damage

    Costing and surveying damage

    Buildings, structures and public safety

    Hazards and the urban environment

    High-rise buildings in disaster

    Dam disasters


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    The logistics of planning and emergency action

    Disaster and hazard mapping

    Remote sensing and disasters

    Models of disaster and their practical uses

    Disaster warning

    Planning for disasters

    Disasters and the mass media

    Emergency management

    Emergency shelter

    Recovery and reconstruction after disaster


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    Medical emergencies

    Death and injury

    Disease rates


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    The Third World

    Disasters in developing countries

    Famine and starvation


    The impact of floods upon developing countries

    The case of Bangladesh


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    Disasters and socio-economic systems

    The sociology of disasters

    Disaster psychology

    Perception of natural hazards and disasters

    Risk assessment and management

    Problems of rational hazard management

    The economics of disasters

    An historical perspective


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    Towards an international strategy against disasters

    The lessons of disaster

    National policy and disasters

    The International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction


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    David C. Alexander