Special Issue "Inaugural Section Special Issue: Key Topics and Future Perspectives in Natural Hazards Research"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263). This special issue belongs to the section "Natural Hazards".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

This Special Issue inaugurates the new section of Geosciences devoted to Natural Hazards.

The research in this scientific domain is very dynamic and diverse, encompassing, for example:

  • new findings in understanding triggering and propagation mechanisms
  • the revision of previous hypotheses or hazard scenarios
  • the development of new conceptualisations and methodologies
  • the testing of new data, sensors, and techniques for investigation, monitoring, change detection, and multi-temporal or back-analysis
  • the development of new or refined models for forecasting
  • the integration of hazard assessment in risk analysis
  • the design of new materials and solutions for risk mitigation
  • the exploration of new ways to communicate hazards and increase awareness

Significant advances are also achieved through multidisciplinary and international collaborations, as well as international partnerships, thus producing a multitude of different positive results including, but not limited to, shared standards, improved research capabilities, and new paradigms, not to mention the impact on society whenever research translates into practice, regulation, or policies.

I launch this Special Issue to capture the state-of-the-art of Natural Hazards research through a collection of review papers focused on current key topics, which outline where we are as a research community and future perspectives.

This Special Issue will include invited papers written by scholars of international reputation in this field of research, but also welcomes unsolicited, high-quality manuscripts on the above topics.

Therefore, prospective authors are encouraged to send in an abstract including the description of the key topic they want to address, the justification of its relevance in the current international research on Natural Hazards, and the specific audience and readership they want to reach.

Dr. Deodato Tapete
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Geosciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Key Topics and Future Perspectives in Natural Hazards Research
Geosciences 2020, 10(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10010022 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Since early 2018 the “Natural Hazards” Section of Geosciences journal has aimed to publish pure, experimental, or applied research that is focused on advancing methodologies, technologies, expertise, and capabilities to detect, characterize, monitor, and model natural hazards and assess their associated [...] Read more.
Since early 2018 the “Natural Hazards” Section of Geosciences journal has aimed to publish pure, experimental, or applied research that is focused on advancing methodologies, technologies, expertise, and capabilities to detect, characterize, monitor, and model natural hazards and assess their associated risks. This stream of geoscientific research has reached a high degree of specialization and represents a multi-disciplinary research realm. To inaugurate this section, the Special Issue “Key Topics and Future Perspectives in Natural Hazards Research” was launched. After a year and half since the call for papers was initially opened, the special issue is now completed with the editorial introducing the collection of 10 selected papers covering the following hot topics of natural hazards research: (i) trends in publications and research directions at international level; (ii) the role of Big Data in natural disaster management; (iii) assessment of seismic risk through the understanding and quantification of its three components (i.e., hazard, vulnerability and exposure/impact); (iv) climatic/hydro-meteorological hazards (i.e., drought, hurricanes); and (v) scientific analysis of past incidents and disaster forensics (i.e., the Oroville Dam 2017 spillway incident). The present editorial provides a summary of each paper of the collection within the current context of scientific research on natural hazards, pointing out the salient results and key messages. Full article
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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Seismic Vulnerability and Old Towns. A Cost-Based Programming Model
Geosciences 2019, 9(10), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9100427 - 02 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Vulnerability is a big issue for small inland urban centres, which are exposed to the risk of depopulation. In the climate of the centre-northern part of Italy, and in the context of the recent concentration of a high number of earthquakes in that [...] Read more.
Vulnerability is a big issue for small inland urban centres, which are exposed to the risk of depopulation. In the climate of the centre-northern part of Italy, and in the context of the recent concentration of a high number of earthquakes in that area, seismic vulnerability can become the determinant cause of the final abandonment of a small town. In some Italian regions, as well as in Emilia Romagna, municipalities are implementing seismic vulnerability reduction policies based on the Emergency Limit Condition, which has become a basic point of reference for ordinary land planning. This study proposes an approach to seismic vulnerability reduction based on valuation planning for implementation within the general planning framework of the Faentina Union, a group of five small towns located in the southwestern part of the Province of Ravenna, Italy. This approach consists of three main stages: knowledge—the typological, constructive, and technological descriptions of the buildings, specifically concerning their degree of vulnerability; interpretation—analysis with the aim of outlining a range of hypotheses with respect to damage in case of a prospective earthquake; and planning—the identification of the courses of action intended to meaningfully reduce the vulnerability of buildings. This stage includes a cost modelling tool aimed at defining the trade-off between the extension and the intensity of the vulnerability reduction works, given the budget. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Shallow Shear-Wave Velocity Beneath Jakarta, Indonesia Revealed by Body-Wave Polarization Analysis
Geosciences 2019, 9(9), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9090386 - 03 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Noting the importance of evaluating near-surface geology in earthquake risk assessment, we explored the application to the Jakarta Basin of a relatively new and simple technique to map shallow seismic structure using body-wave polarization. The polarization directions of P-waves are sensitive to shear-wave [...] Read more.
Noting the importance of evaluating near-surface geology in earthquake risk assessment, we explored the application to the Jakarta Basin of a relatively new and simple technique to map shallow seismic structure using body-wave polarization. The polarization directions of P-waves are sensitive to shear-wave velocities (Vs), while those of S-waves are sensitive to both body-wave velocities. Two dense, temporary broadband seismic networks covering Jakarta city and its vicinity were operated for several months, firstly, from October 2013 to February 2014 consisting of 96 stations, and secondly, between April and October 2018 consisting of 143 stations. By applying the polarization technique to earthquake signals recorded during these deployments, the apparent half-space shear-wave velocity (Vsahs) beneath each station is obtained, providing spatially dense coverage of the sedimentary deposits and the edge of the basin. The results showed that spatial variations in Vsahs obtained from polarization analysis are compatible with previous studies, and appear to reflect the average Vs of the top 150 m. The low Vs that characterizes sedimentary deposits dominates most of the area of Jakarta, and mainly reaches the outer part of its administrative margin to the southwest, more than 10 km away. Further study is required to obtain a complete geometry of the Jakarta Basin. In agreement with previous studies, we found that the polarization technique was indeed a simple and effective method for estimating near-surface Vs that can be implemented at very low-cost wherever three-component seismometers are operated, and it provides an alternative to the use of borehole and active source surveys for such measurements. However, we also found that for deep basins such as Jakarta, care must be taken in choosing window lengths to avoid contamination of basement converted phases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Children’s Psychological Representation of Earthquakes: Analysis of Written Definitions and Rasch Scaling
Geosciences 2019, 9(5), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9050208 - 09 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Natural disasters have a potential highly traumatic impact on psychological functioning. This is notably true for children, whose vulnerability depends on their level of cognitive and emotional development. Before formal schooling, children possess all the basic abilities to represent the phenomena of the [...] Read more.
Natural disasters have a potential highly traumatic impact on psychological functioning. This is notably true for children, whose vulnerability depends on their level of cognitive and emotional development. Before formal schooling, children possess all the basic abilities to represent the phenomena of the world, including natural disasters. However, scarce attention has been paid to children’s representation of earthquakes, notwithstanding its relevance for risk awareness and for the efficacy of prevention programs. We examined children’s representation of earthquakes using different methodologies. One hundred and twenty-eight second- and fourth-graders completed a written definition task and an online recognition task, analyzed through the Rasch model. Findings from both tasks indicated that, in children’s representation, natural elements such as geological ones were the most salient, followed by man-made elements, and then by person-related elements. Older children revealed a more complex representation of earthquakes, and this was detected through the online recognition task. The results are discussed taking into account their theoretical and applied relevance. Beyond advancing knowledge of the development of the representation of earthquakes, they also inform on strengths and limitations of different methodologies. Both aspects are key resources to develop prevention programs for fostering preparedness to natural disasters and emotional prevention. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Geo-Hazard-Based Approach for the Estimation of Seismic Vulnerability and Damage Scenarios of the Old City of Senerchia (Avellino, Italy)
Geosciences 2019, 9(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9020059 - 26 Jan 2019
Cited by 12
Abstract
The large-scale seismic risk assessment is a crucial point for safeguarding people and planning adequate mitigation plans in urban areas. The current research work aims at analysing a sector of the historic centre of Senerchia, located in the province of Avellino, in order [...] Read more.
The large-scale seismic risk assessment is a crucial point for safeguarding people and planning adequate mitigation plans in urban areas. The current research work aims at analysing a sector of the historic centre of Senerchia, located in the province of Avellino, in order to assess the seismic vulnerability and damage of old masonry building compounds. First, the typological classification of the inspected building aggregates is developed using the CARTIS form developed by the PLINIVS research centre in collaboration with the Italian Civil Protection Department. The global seismic vulnerability assessment of the building sample is carried out using the macroseismic method according to the EMS-98 scale in order to identify the buildings most susceptible to seismic damage. Furthermore, 12 damage scenarios are developed by means of an appropriate seismic attenuation law. Finally, the expected damage scenarios considering the local hazard effects induced are developed in order to evaluate the damage increment, averagely equal to 50%, due to the seismic amplification of different soil categories. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Earthquakes on Energy Security in the Eurasian Economic Union: Resilience of the Electricity Transmission Networks in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan
Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9010054 - 21 Jan 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
In our research, we focus on the reliability of the interconnected electricity supply system of three countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)—Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. We apply a mathematical model to evaluate the reliability of the electricity supply system under the threat [...] Read more.
In our research, we focus on the reliability of the interconnected electricity supply system of three countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)—Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. We apply a mathematical model to evaluate the reliability of the electricity supply system under the threat of earthquakes. Earthquakes can damage elements of electricity grids and, considering the interconnectivity of electricity supply systems in the EAEU, effects in the aftermath of earthquakes can be far-reaching and even transboundary. This necessitates the development of coordinated policies and risk management strategies to deal with electricity outage risks in the EAEU. In our study, the earthquake probability is derived from seismic zone maps, while damage events are computed using maps of energy power systems. In addition, we determine which elements of the system are susceptible to failure due to an earthquake of a given magnitude. We conduct a scenario analysis of earthquakes and their impacts on the reliability of the power supply system, considering potential energy losses and threats to energy security. An analysis of the resilience of electricity transmission grids allows us to determine the critical interconnection lines in terms of exposure to earthquake risk, as well as exposure to total systemic loss. We also identify the most critical interconnection lines where power outages can lead to the destabilization of the entire power supply system. Some examples of such lines are at the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where power outages can lead to serious economic costs and electricity outages. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Dynamics of Socioeconomic Exposure, Vulnerability and Impacts of Recent Droughts in Argentina
Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9010039 - 12 Jan 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
During the last 20 years, Argentina experienced several extreme and widespread droughts in many different regions, including the core cropland areas. The most devastating recent events were recorded in the years 2006, 2009 and 2011. Reported impacts of the main events induced losses [...] Read more.
During the last 20 years, Argentina experienced several extreme and widespread droughts in many different regions, including the core cropland areas. The most devastating recent events were recorded in the years 2006, 2009 and 2011. Reported impacts of the main events induced losses of more than 4 billion U.S. dollars and more than 1 million persons were reported to be directly or indirectly affected. In this paper, we analyse the drought risk in Argentina, taking into account recent information on drought hazard, exposure and vulnerability. Accordingly, we identified the most severe droughts in Argentina during the 2000–2015 period using a combination of drought hazard indicators and exposure layers. Three main events were identified: (1) during spring 2006 droughts peaked in the northeast of Argentina, (2) in 2009 precipitation deficits indicated a drought epicenter in the central Argentinian plains, and (3) in 2011 the northern Patagonia region experienced a combination of natural disasters due to severe drought conditions and a devastating volcanic eruption. Furthermore, we analysed the dynamics of drought exposure for the population and the main economic sectors affected by municipality, i.e., agriculture and livestock production. Assets exposed to droughts have been identified with several records of drought impacts and declarations of farming emergencies. We show that by combining exposure and vulnerability with drought intensity it is feasible to detect the likelihood of regional impacts in different sectors. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Insights into the Oroville Dam 2017 Spillway Incident
Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9010037 - 11 Jan 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In February 2017, a failure occurring in Oroville Dam’s main spillway risked causing severe damages downstream. A unique aspect of this incident was the fact that it happened during a flood scenario well within its design and operational procedures, prompting research into its [...] Read more.
In February 2017, a failure occurring in Oroville Dam’s main spillway risked causing severe damages downstream. A unique aspect of this incident was the fact that it happened during a flood scenario well within its design and operational procedures, prompting research into its causes and determining methods to prevent similar events from reoccurring. In this study, a hydroclimatic analysis of Oroville Dam’s catchment is conducted, along with a review of related design and operational manuals. The data available allows for the comparison of older flood-frequency analyses to new alternative methods proposed in this paper and relevant literature. Based on summary characteristics of the 2017 floods, possible causes of the incident are outlined, in order to understand which factors contributed more significantly. It turns out that the event was most likely the result of a structural problem in the dam’s main spillway and detrimental geological conditions, but analysis of surface level data also reveals operational issues that were not present during previous larger floods, promoting a discussion about flood control design methods, specifications, and dam inspection procedures, and how these can be improved to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Geographies and Scientometrics of Research on Natural Hazards
Geosciences 2018, 8(10), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8100382 - 18 Oct 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
This contribution aims to reveal patterns of research on natural hazards worldwide, based on the analysis of the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science database. A set of 588,424 research items published between 1900 and 2017 is analyzed, covering different types of natural hazards. [...] Read more.
This contribution aims to reveal patterns of research on natural hazards worldwide, based on the analysis of the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science database. A set of 588,424 research items published between 1900 and 2017 is analyzed, covering different types of natural hazards. Two categories of natural hazards are distinguished in this study: (i) geological/geomorphic (earthquakes, slope movements, erosion, volcanic activity, and others); and (ii) climatic/hydro-meteorological (floods, storms, drought, hurricane, and others). General trends, the geographical focus, and the involvement and cooperation between individual countries are revealed, pointing out certain patterns (e.g., hotspots of research) and trends (e.g., changing publishing paradigm). Further, a global overview of research on natural hazards is confronted with disastrous events, fatalities, and losses of MunichRE and SwissRE global databases of natural disasters. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
On the Predictability of 30-Day Global Mesoscale Simulations of African Easterly Waves during Summer 2006: A View with the Generalized Lorenz Model
Geosciences 2019, 9(7), 281; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9070281 - 26 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Recent advances in computational and global modeling technology have provided the potential to improve weather predictions at extended-range scales. In earlier studies by the author and his coauthors, realistic 30-day simulations of multiple African easterly waves (AEWs) and an averaged African easterly jet [...] Read more.
Recent advances in computational and global modeling technology have provided the potential to improve weather predictions at extended-range scales. In earlier studies by the author and his coauthors, realistic 30-day simulations of multiple African easterly waves (AEWs) and an averaged African easterly jet (AEJ) were obtained. The formation of hurricane Helene (2006) was also realistically simulated from Day 22 to Day 30. In this study, such extended predictability was further analyzed based on recent understandings of chaos and instability within Lorenz models and the generalized Lorenz model. The analysis suggested that a statement of the theoretical predictability of two weeks is not universal. New insight into chaotic and non-chaotic processes revealed by the generalized Lorenz model (GLM) indicated the potential for extending prediction lead times. Two major features within the GLM included: (1) three types of attractors (that also appeared in the original Lorenz model) and (2) two kinds of attractor coexistence. The features suggest a refined view on the nature of weather, as follows: The entirety of weather is a superset that consists of chaotic and non-chaotic processes. Better predictability can be obtained for stable, steady-state solutions and nonlinear periodic solutions that occur at small and large Rayleigh parameters, respectively. By comparison, chaotic solutions appear only at moderate Rayleigh parameters. Errors associated with dissipative small-scale processes do not necessarily contaminate the simulations of large scale processes. Based on the nonlinear periodic solutions (also known as limit cycle solutions), here, we propose a hypothetical mechanism for the recurrence (or periodicity) of successive AEWs. The insensitivity of limit cycles to initial conditions implies that AEW simulations with strong heating and balanced nonlinearity could be more predictable. Based on the hypothetical mechanism, the possibility of extending prediction lead times at extended range scales is discussed. Future work will include refining the model to better examine the validity of the mechanism to explain the recurrence of multiple AEWs. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Big Data in Natural Disaster Management: A Review
Geosciences 2018, 8(5), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8050165 - 05 May 2018
Cited by 34
Abstract
Undoubtedly, the age of big data has opened new options for natural disaster management, primarily because of the varied possibilities it provides in visualizing, analyzing, and predicting natural disasters. From this perspective, big data has radically changed the ways through which human societies [...] Read more.
Undoubtedly, the age of big data has opened new options for natural disaster management, primarily because of the varied possibilities it provides in visualizing, analyzing, and predicting natural disasters. From this perspective, big data has radically changed the ways through which human societies adopt natural disaster management strategies to reduce human suffering and economic losses. In a world that is now heavily dependent on information technology, the prime objective of computer experts and policy makers is to make the best of big data by sourcing information from varied formats and storing it in ways that it can be effectively used during different stages of natural disaster management. This paper aimed at making a systematic review of the literature in analyzing the role of big data in natural disaster management and highlighting the present status of the technology in providing meaningful and effective solutions in natural disaster management. The paper has presented the findings of several researchers on varied scientific and technological perspectives that have a bearing on the efficacy of big data in facilitating natural disaster management. In this context, this paper reviews the major big data sources, the associated achievements in different disaster management phases, and emerging technological topics associated with leveraging this new ecosystem of Big Data to monitor and detect natural hazards, mitigate their effects, assist in relief efforts, and contribute to the recovery and reconstruction processes. Full article
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