Stanford University
Mount Pinatubo explosion

Reducing Disaster Risks

Photo by Alberto Garcia

Understanding threats and reducing risks to human wellbeing

Thousands of lives and billions of dollars have been lost in recent natural disasters such as the 2010 Haiti and 2015 Nepal earthquakes and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Not to mention the hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Geohazards have shaped and reshaped the planet for millennia. Now climate change is adding to the threats, even as urban centers are expanding and more people are living in vulnerable locations.

We study Earth processes—what causes them and how to predict where and when they will happen—but we also seek to reduce the risks to human wellbeing, especially in increasingly populated and vulnerable cities worldwide. Our expertise in both subsurface-originating hazards and the surface changes brought about by shifts in climate and land use provides a unique vantage point from which to analyze a new breed of potential hazards and risks.

Meet some of the faculty involved in Reducing Disaster Risks

Jenny Suckale
Jenny Suckale

Assistant Professor of Geophysics

Simon Klemperer
Simon Klemperer

Professor of Geophysics

Tiziana Vanorio
Tiziana Vanorio

Assistant Professor of Geophysics

greg beroza
Greg Beroza

Professor of Geophysics

Eric Dunham
Eric Dunham

Associate Professor of Geophysics

Howard Zebker
Howard Zebker

Professor of Geophysics and Electrical Engineering

Paul Segall
Paul Segall

Professor of Geophysics

A "billion sensors" earthquake observatory with optical fibers

The same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

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New tool to reduce risk of triggering manmade earthquakes

A new software tool can help reduce the risk of manmade earthquakes by calculating the probability that oil and gas injection activities will trigger slip in nearby faults.

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News related to Reducing Disaster Risks

Local impacts from fracking the Eagle Ford

Stanford scientists simulated the local risk of damaging or nuisance-level shaking caused by hydraulic fracturing across the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. The results could inform a new approach to managing human-caused earthquakes.

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Homes in floodplains are overvalued by nearly $44 billion

Analysis of sales data and flood risk data over two decades indicates that housing markets fail to fully account for information about flood risk. The findings suggest that policies to improve risk communication could influence market outcomes.

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U.S. asbestos sites made risky by some remediation strategies

Efforts to prevent human exposure to asbestos may be mobilizing the cancer-causing mineral so that it can reach water supplies, based on new findings about how the fibers move through soil.

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Understanding Biden's environmental challenges and actions

The Biden administration’s ambitious plans for environmental progress face complex obstacles. The findings, expertise and policy experience of Stanford researchers working across multiple fields could help contribute to sustainable, cost-effective solutions. 

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