Earth-Moving Stories: Natural Hazards and Disasters

March 10, 2006 1:45pm - 3:15pm

Michael Blanpied: When the earth speaks, people listen. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides make for riveting news. Whether a disaster strikes across the street or across the country, the listening public is hungry for information, and rapid advances in data collection, computer modeling, scientific understanding and Internet communication mean that better information is available faster. These advances are also leading to earlier and better hazard forecasts, predictions and warnings as well.

This session will provide a brief overview of these natural hazards, their causes, when and where they're likely to strike, where to find up-to-the-minute information, and recent trends in science, prediction, and response. Earth scientists often discuss hazards in terms of probabilities and uncertainties, so we'll discuss why these tricky concepts are important and how to decipher them for a general audience.

Geologists and seismologists are "detectives," happy to have their science stories told and eager to get information to the public following disasters, so we'll also discuss how reporters and earth scientists can work together to translate complex material into information that is interesting and useful to the everyday person, using as examples several recent newsworthy events and the upcoming 100th anniversary of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake.