Skip to content

The Dynamics of Disaster

By Susan W Kieffer

Natural disasters bedevil our planet, and each appears to be a unique event. Leading geologist Susan W. Kieffer shows how all disasters are connected.

In 2011, there were fourteen natural calamities that each destroyed over a billion dollars’ worth of property in the United States alone. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast and major earthquakes struck in Italy, the Philippines, Iran, and Afghanistan. In the first half of 2013, the awful drumbeat continued—a monster supertornado struck Moore, Oklahoma; a powerful earthquake shook Sichuan, China; a cyclone ravaged Queensland, Australia; massive floods inundated Jakarta, Indonesia; and the largest wildfire ever engulfed a large part of Colorado.

Despite these events, we still behave as if natural disasters are outliers. Why else would we continue to build new communities near active volcanoes, on tectonically active faults, on flood plains, and in areas routinely lashed by vicious storms?

A famous historian once observed that “civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.” In the pages of this unique book, leading geologist Susan W. Kieffer provides a primer on most types of natural disasters: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes. By taking us behind the scenes of the underlying geology that causes them, she shows why natural disasters are more common than we realize, and that their impact on us will increase as our growing population crowds us into ever more vulnerable areas.

Kieffer describes how natural disasters result from “changes in state” in a geologic system, much as when water turns to steam. By understanding what causes these changes of state, we can begin to understand the dynamics of natural disasters.

In the book’s concluding chapter, Kieffer outlines how we might better prepare for, and in some cases prevent, future disasters. She also calls for the creation of an organization, something akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but focused on pending natural disasters.

40 illustrations

Format

Book

Availability

1 available at Main (Downtown)
  • 363.34 Kie, Nonfiction

ISBN

9780393080957


Format: Book
Author: Kieffer, Susan W
Summary: Natural disasters bedevil our planet, and each appears to be a unique event. The author, a geologist shows how all disasters are connected. Humans persist in building centers of civilization in places of past disasters. We believe that our technology will protect us next time. Yet we rarely win these battles with the Earth because we do not understand natural disasters deeply enough. The author has two goals for her book. The first is to show how the dynamics, the workings, of disasters are connected by a small number of natural laws. The second is to show that the most obvious process in a disaster is not always the one that causes the devastation. For instance, the transformation of apparently solid ground into a substance like quicksand during the 2010 Haiti earthquake is what caused the destruction of Port au Prince. She argues that only by truly understanding the dynamics of natural disasters can we begin to institute engineering and policy practices to minimize their impact on our lives. --Provided by publisher.
Title: The dynamics of disaster / Susan W. Kieffer.
Publisher Date: New York : W. W. Norton & Co., c2013.
Subject: Natural disasters
Isbn: 9780393080957 (hardcover) 0393080951 (hardcover)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: 363.34 Kie
Oclc: 783163525
Upc:
Bib Id: 454720

Format: Book
Author: Kieffer, Susan W.
Summary: Natural disasters bedevil our planet, and each appears to be a unique event. The author, a geologist shows how all disasters are connected. Humans persist in building centers of civilization in places of past disasters. We believe that our technology will protect us next time. Yet we rarely win these battles with the Earth because we do not understand natural disasters deeply enough. The author has two goals for her book. The first is to show how the dynamics, the workings, of disasters are connected by a small number of natural laws. The second is to show that the most obvious process in a disaster is not always the one that causes the devastation. For instance, the transformation of apparently solid ground into a substance like quicksand during the 2010 Haiti earthquake is what caused the destruction of Port au Prince. She argues that only by truly understanding the dynamics of natural disasters can we begin to institute engineering and policy practices to minimize their impact on our lives. --Provided by publisher.
Title: The dynamics of disaster / Susan W. Kieffer.
Edition: 1st ed.
Publisher, Date: New York : W. W. Norton & Co., c2013.
Description: xvi, 315 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Subjects: Natural disasters
Notes: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents: The Nature of Disaster -- Geologic Consent: Do We Have It Or Not? -- Dynamics and Disasters -- When Terra Isn't Firma -- The Flying Carpet of Elm -- The Day the Mountain Blew -- The Power of Water: Tusnamis -- Rogue Waves, Stormy Weather -- Rivers in the Sky -- Water, Water Everywhere, or Not a Drop to Drink -- Earth and Us.
LCCN: 2013018412
ISBN: 9780393080957 (hardcover)
ISBN: 0393080951 (hardcover)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: 363.34 Kie