(Leader: Suzanne Leroy; email@example.com) 1. Need for the International Focus Group
Natural disasters are on the increase, as more population live in marginal areas. Therefore studying the past is a modern problem
Increasingly it s recognised that Quaternary sciences are
able to deliver information from the past which is relevant for the present.
More precisely in the field of prevention and mitigation of natural hazards,
the range of information that can be derived from instrumental data is often
very short. In order to take the right decisions, it is important to know
what is the full range of potential extreme changes one society may have
to prepare for.
Geohazards are made of a series of events that occur within a very short time span and often with a lot of time between the events. Therefore in order to have a relatively full view of the potential range of geohazards in a region, it is even more essential in this field, than in any other geoscience, to look back into the past using geological and historical records.
Four factors need to combine in order to transform a natural hazard into a disaster: time, space, type of society and recurrence of events (Leroy, 2006; Leroy, in press). Firstly an absence of warning and a spread of the hazards over several weeks or months enhance the disaster: e.g. earthquakes commonly have a series of aftershocks. Secondly the larger the area affected, the worse the impact. Global or hemispheric events are however relatively rare. Some of them stand out, i.e. global climatic changes at 2200 and 850 years BC, tropical volcanic eruptions with an impact in the stratosphere (e.g. Tambora in AD 1815) and bolides. Thirdly the nature of society plays an essential role in the preparedness and response to disasters. Typically, planning is left in the hands of politicians who have short-term goals and therefore hesitate in engaging public money for long-term mitigation. Two radically different socio-political approaches have been recognised as efficient: either a very centralised country such as the Soviet Union or the Kingdom of Portugal of AD 1755 with top-down actions to impose their authority, or bottom-up action when citizens are able to put pressure on local governments, such as in The Netherlands after the flood of AD 1953. Fourthly and finally, combined effects and successive geohazards can be found in the examples we have just used, such as earthquakes combined with landslides in AD 1920 in China, or sub-glacial eruptions with a jökulhlaup in Iceland. An analysis of historical volcanic eruptions after great earthquakes in Chile showed more volcanic eruptions than normally expected in the twelve months following the earthquakes. This was especially true for the two large earthquakes in AD 1906 and AD 1960.
The approach is by necessity multidisciplinary. We will include palaeoeocologists, archaeologists, climate modellers, historians, limnologists, seismologists, volcanologists, palaeohydrologists, paleoeoceanographers, etc.. Increasingly it s recognised that Quaternary sciences are able to deliver information from the past which is relevant for the present. More precisely in the field of prevention and mitigation of natural hazards, the range of information that can be derived from instrumental data is often very short. In order to take the right decisions, it is important to know what is the full range of potential extreme changes one society may have to prepare for.
Leroy S.A.G., 2006. From natural hazard to environmental catastrophe, past and present. Quaternary International, 158-1: 4-12. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2006.05.012
Leroy S.A.G., in press. Natural hazards, landscapes, and civilizations. In: Shroder J. Jr, James L.A., Hardon C., J. Clague (ed.) “Treatise on Geomorphology” Academic Press, San Diego, CA, vol. 13, 14 pages.2. Tasks, Objectives and Activities
(1) to refine the Quaternary methods by increasing their time resolution in order to obtain information at a societal scale
(2) to work with INQUA SCALE to quantify past events and make them relevant to the present.
(3) to work in an interdisciplinary way, insure that human/social scientists are working with physical scientists.
(4) to improve the transfer of information to end-users, eg by organising joint conferences, and by communicating more broadly with the media.
It is planned that for each major type of natural hazard, one leader will be identified: earthquakes, tsunamis, large storms/hurricanes, droughts, floods, landslides, volcanoes, etc. Other natural hazards, which are much rarer occurrences, such karst dissolution, meteorites, limnic eruptions, great fires and hales may also be considered.
One of the first tasks would be to set up a steering committee to assist the leader of this IFG. Regular meetings could be organised using facilities such as Adobe connect.
- to organise special sessions at a range of international venues such as EGU, AGU, WAS, PAGES/IGBP, etc…
- to organise several sessions at the next INQUA congress in Japan,
- to write a joint paper on the relevance of past studies to improvement of preparation plans of natural hazards, to a journal such as Quaternary International.
- to feed regularly the TERPRO website with information from the IFG.
So far only one application has been submitted to TERPRO for a project for the coming inter-congress period (QuickLakeH). The aim of the focus groups is to stimulate activities under the umbrella of TERPRO for a larger range of natural hazards.
3. Initial correspondents, including the leader, together with a statement that those named are prepared to serve
Prof. Suzanne Leroy
Institute for the Environment Brunel University, UK
Member of the editorial board of the journal Quaternary International.
3.2 Initial confirmed correspondents and responsibilities
Dr Angela Bruch, GERMANY, climate change an human evolution
Prof. Peter Bobrowski, CANADA, meteorites
Dr Pedro Costa, PORTUGAL, tsunamis
Dr Michele Clarke, UK, large storms
Dr Catherine Chagué-Goff, AUSTRALIA, tsunamis
Prof. John Dearing, UK, extreme geomorphology/flood events as recorded in lake sediments
Prof. Steve Goldstein, USA, rapid lake level changes
Dr Raisa Gracheva, RUSSIA, landslides and other waste movements and their consequences
Prof. John Grattan, UK, volcanoes and aridification
Dr Andrea Hawkes, USA, tropical cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, and sea level
Dr Benjamin Horton, USA, coastal hazards from EQ, tsunamis, sea-level rise and hurricanes
Prof. Liu Jiaqi, CHINA, volcanoes, climate, hazards and humans in general
Prof. Oliver Korup, GERMANY, landslides and floods (note floods are also covered by GLOCOPH)
Dr Eduardo Piovano, ARGENTINA, rapidly changing lake levels
Prof. Manuel Sintubin, BELGIUM, archaeoseismology
Dr Lora Stevens, USA, droughts in SW Asia
Prof. Iain Stewart, UK, archaeoseismology and palaeoseismology
Prof. Robin Torrence, AUSTRALIA, volcanoes