Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Geological/Geophysical Disasters

  • Richard Guthrie
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_155



A disaster is an event that causes hardship, loss of life, or damage to infrastructure, the environment, the economic well-being, or other things that humans value. It is a cultural construct that refers to the relative impact of a hazard. It is important to recognize that a disaster would not exist without some direct impact on humans. A volcanic event, for instance, is an occurrence of a volcano. A volcanic hazard is the threat to humans from impacts of this event. A volcanic disaster is the negative impact of a volcanic hazard on things humans value. Disasters are therefore heavily influenced by a community’s vulnerability to a particular hazard or group of hazards.

As a cultural construct, a disaster may be perceived differently by individual persons or groups of people, and there is no absolute disaster scale. The magnitude of a disaster may not be related to the magnitude of a hazard, highlighting, once again, the important role of vulnerability by humans and...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Director of Geohazards and GeomorphologyMDH Engineered Solutions, SNC Lavalin GroupCalgaryCanada