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Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Modern World

Earthquakes over the last decade have produced a series of revealing examples illustrating the world we now live in. There have been large earthquakes that have killed very few people, and demonstrated the impressive resilience and improvement in infrastructure in several countries; yet they have sometimes been accompanied by tsunamis that were devastating and deadly. Over the same period, much smaller earthquakes have killed up to 30% of urban populations in countries that are far less well prepared. These contrasts are related to wealth, development and education, but also to the geological setting and the nature of the hazard involved. We now have an unprecedented ability to reveal exactly what happened in these events, through a combination of relatively new monitoring technologies that can provide information rapidly and with extraordinary resolution. Such knowledge is helpful, and in the long term helps build resilience, but also reveals our ignorance of fundamental processes. This lecture will examine such issues and what is behind the sombre conclusion that ‘the rich pay and the poor die’.

Listen to an audio recording of James Jackson's lecture by clicking on the link below:

'Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Modern World' by James Jackson (.mp345744 Kb)


James Jackson


James Jackson is Professor of Active Tectonics in the Department of Earth Sciences in the University of Cambridge. His research uses seismology and satellite-based techniques, combined with observations of the landscape in the field, to study how the continents develop and deform on all scales, from the movement that occurs in earthquakes to the evolution of mountain belts. His field work has taken him to many parts of Asia, the Mediterranean, Africa, New Zealand and North America. He is increasingly involved in how to use the insights obtained by geologists to reduce the appalling risk earthquake pose to populations in developing countries. In 1995 he delivered the Royal Institution/BBC Christmas Lectures on 'Planet Earth: an Explorer's Guide'. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the American Geophysical Union, and is also a Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge.



earthquakes tsunamis

Event Details

Date: 18 January 2012
Venue: The Geological Society, London
Speaker: James Jackson



Naomi Newbold
Tel: 020 7432 0981
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