Stanford University
Mount Pinatubo explosion

Reducing Disaster Risks

Photo by Alberto Garcia

Understanding threats and reducing risks to human wellbeing

Thousands of lives and billions of dollars have been lost in recent natural disasters such as the 2010 Haiti and 2015 Nepal earthquakes and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Not to mention the hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Geohazards have shaped and reshaped the planet for millennia. Now climate change is adding to the threats, even as urban centers are expanding and more people are living in vulnerable locations.

We study Earth processes—what causes them and how to predict where and when they will happen—but we also seek to reduce the risks to human wellbeing, especially in increasingly populated and vulnerable cities worldwide. Our expertise in both subsurface-originating hazards and the surface changes brought about by shifts in climate and land use provides a unique vantage point from which to analyze a new breed of potential hazards and risks.

Meet some of the faculty involved in Reducing Disaster Risks

Jenny Suckale
Jenny Suckale

Assistant Professor of Geophysics

Simon Klemperer
Simon Klemperer

Professor of Geophysics

Tiziana Vanorio
Tiziana Vanorio

Assistant Professor of Geophysics

greg beroza
Greg Beroza

Professor of Geophysics

Eric Dunham
Eric Dunham

Associate Professor of Geophysics

Howard Zebker
Howard Zebker

Professor of Geophysics and Electrical Engineering

Paul Segall
Paul Segall

Professor of Geophysics

A "billion sensors" earthquake observatory with optical fibers

The same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

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New tool to reduce risk of triggering manmade earthquakes

A new software tool can help reduce the risk of manmade earthquakes by calculating the probability that oil and gas injection activities will trigger slip in nearby faults.

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News related to Reducing Disaster Risks

Solar radio signals could be used to monitor melting ice sheets

A new method for seeing through ice sheets using radio signals from the sun could enable cheap, low-power and widespread monitoring of ice sheet evolution and contribution to sea-level rise.

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Sea-level rise may worsen existing Bay Area inequities

Researchers examined the number of households unable to pay for damages from coastal flooding to reveal how sea-level rise could threaten the fabric of Bay Area communities over the next 40 years.

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Tips to protect against wildfire smoke

Warnings of another severe wildfire season abound, as do efforts to reduce the risk of ignition. Yet few are taking precautions against the smoke. Stanford experts advise on contending with hazardous air quality.

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What causes earthquake foreshocks?

Because foreshocks precede larger quakes, they have long presented the tantalizing prospect of warning of potentially damaging earthquakes. But to date, they have only been recognized in hindsight, and scientists for decades have sought to understand the physical processes that drive them. Computer modeling by Stanford geophysicists finds answers in the complex geometry of faults.

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