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Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Newsletter

Interview: Rock Fall Hazards after the Christchurch Earthquake Dr Chris Massey, GNS Science


• IHRR Research • Risk Masters Update • Christopher Moyes Memorial Fellow Spotlight

Tipping Points Research Instability: A Barrier to Fusion Energy? Emotion Words in Books Reflect History and Culture Volume 6, Number 2

Spring 2013

From the Executive Director of focus of the Institute, concerned with leading research on a range of environmental and human hazards, and researching ways to increase resilience.


his issue of the Newsletter from the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience at Durham University includes reports from across the wide range of different types of activity we support. IHRR supports a number of research projects including the Leverhulme Trust Tipping Points project. In this Newsletter we present articles on some of the latest findings from studies from Work Package 3: Mathematics and Work Package 4: Metaphor and Agency, and a call for papers on ‘Fragile Futures’ from Dr Marc Botha (WP5). Readers may also refer to the Tipping Points annual reports for further details about the project’s research. (

We are pleased to report on a number of special events with national and international reach, which have taken place at Durham University in the last few months with support from IHRR. These are related to diverse issues including resilience of young people who are brought up in institutional care settings, and the significance of the quality of care that they receive. This allowed a large and varied audience to engage with the Children’s Commisioners for England and Scotland and with David Divine, the author of a new book on the subject which draws on his own experiences and research carried out at Durham University. Also reported in these pages is a meeting organized around the Matariki network of universities which brought together specialists from the USA, Germany, Australia, Portugal and New Zealand at a meeting in Durham to discuss disaster preparedness, response and resilience and plan collaboration for new research that would build on our shared expertise in these fields.

Our role in helping to promote postgraduate study and research is reflected in an update on the Risk Masters programme showing that this is expanding rapidly into a very successful taught Masters course with strong results and good employment prospects for the talented students undertaking the programme. This Newsletter features a spotlight on Muhammad Jahedul Huq, a first year PhD student supported by the Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation, which illustrates how the Foundation is working with IHRR to promote research important for the well being of countries like Bangladesh, which are extremely vulnerable to risks associated with climate change.

IHRR wishes all our readers an enjoyable and fruitful summer and as many of our colleagues at Durham University will be taking forward their research during this period, we look forward to reporting again in our Summer Newsletter on further exciting new developments in research and knowledge exchange on Hazard, Risk and Resilience.

This Newsletter also features Co-Directors recently appointed to the Management Board of IHRR. Nick Rosser, Claire Horwell and Graham Coates represent some of the breadth

Professor Sarah Curtis Executive Director of IHRR


For more information on the activities of IHRR we encourage our readers to take a look at the second issue of IHRR’s magazine Hazard Risk Resilience edited by our Research Writer and Dissemination Officer, Brett Cherry, which has just been published online and in print.

IHRR Newsletter

Review of the Risk Masters Programmes at Durham University Dr Louise Bracken

Director of the MA / MSc Programmes in Risk Risk is shaping the fundamental basis for how we live and interact in society. Our environment is persistently bombarded with risks on a daily basis, some of which we are able to avoid, but many others we must learn to live with. Conventional knowledge and methods seem no longer capable of meeting some of the new as well as old risks we face in the world today. The Risk Masters programmes seek to meet some of these global challenges by training researchers of the future in order to help pioneer new ways for understanding and dealing with hazard and risk in society. We offer three courses within the Risk Masters: an MSc in Risk and Environmental Hazards, an MA in Risk, Health and Public Policy and an MA in Risk and Security. Each route provides students with a unique focus in risk combined with training in core interdisciplinary research methods. These unique taught Masters programmes provide critical training in core methodologies and offer in-depth analysis in the student’s chosen element of contemporary risk. The courses are delivered by world-leading experts and led jointly out of Durham’s Department of Geography and the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. Student Numbers and careers The Risk Masters started in 2010 and we have seen a rapid growth in applications from which we select the most able students to offer places. For 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 we secured five prestigious bursaries from the Open Society Foundation. These are available to applicants from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Nepal and Palestine. Students also do exceptionally well on the Risk Masters Programmes. This year over half of students are projected to receive Merits and several will receive Distinctions. The number of students accepted to the Risk Masters is growing as total students on the programmes are expected to double for 2012-2013. Not only are students Spring 2013

graduating with excellent degrees, but they continue onto successful careers within a range of risk-related fields. Students have gone to work for leading environmental consultancies in the UK such as Halcrow, JBA, Tiscali, URS and Watermark Risk Management International. One student has become an Emergency Management Analyst in the USA, another entered the Civil Service Fast Track scheme and two further students have secured employment in the insurance industry. A number of students have also gone on to undertake research; three have secured funding for PhD research (two in Geography at Durham and one in Canada) and a fourth student has taken up a research assistant position in Europe.

The Future We hope to continue to attract students from around the world and help them enter into risk related employment. We continually reflect on our course content and develop our teaching and assessment in line with progress in risk research, policy and practice. We are developing strong links with consultants such as JBA and Water Value and are keen to develop more. Some companies have offered a vocational dissertation and we are keen to expand this route of study. Both the students and companies involved have found this worthwhile. Hence the future is bright and we hope the Risk Masters continues to be a successful route of study producing postgraduates who are able to pioneer new ways for understanding and dealing with hazard and risk in society. Further details about the Risk Masters can be found at: ra phy/postg raduate/ riskmasters/.


Focus On... Dr Graham Coates

School of Engineering and Computer Sciences Graham is an engineer with a PhD in computational engineering design. He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University and a member of IHRR’s management board. His recent research focuses on emergency management in designing computer simulations for major emergency incidents in the UK in order to adequately manage and plan for these events before they occur. The EPSRC-funded REScUE project, on which Graham is Principal Investigator, uses agentbased simulation coupled with optimisationbased decision support to enable coordinated emergency response. Agents are used to represent emergency responders, such as firefighters whose behaviour is defined by standard operating procedures, operating within a geographical environment. Simulating exercises to test plans for different kinds of emergency scenarios, assists authorities in developing preparedness at a local level. Research by Graham and colleagues can help local authorities study strategies for addressing emergency events and improve upon current emergency planning.

Dr Claire Horwell

Department of Earth Sciences Dr Claire Horwell is a Co-Director of IHRR and Geohazards Theme Leader in the Department of Earth Sciences. She originally joined IHRR as a Research Council UK Fellow in 2007. Claire’s research focuses on the study of respiratory health hazards from volcanic ash. She is a pioneer in her field as little research has been done on the short or long-term health effects of human exposure to volcanic ash. Crystalline silica in volcanic ash is of concern to public health because in industry it is well known that


breathing in crystalline silica can lead to chronic diseases in the lungs, such as silicosis and lung cancer, and people with pre-existing lung conditions like asthma are particularly vulnerable. In her research, Claire studies the ash from a mineralogical and geochemical perspective to understand the different features of the ash that might affect its toxicity, including the size, shape and composition of volcanic ash particles, along with measuring the crystalline silica content of the ash. Scientific research of volcanic ash can help to better inform policy on protecting populations from exposure. As Director of the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (, Claire works closely with government agencies in rapidly assessing the potential hazard of volcanic ash after an eruption occurs, allowing appropriate actions to be taken to safeguard communities from potential volcanic health hazards.

Dr Nick Rosser

Department of Geography Dr Nick Rosser joined IHRR in 2007 as a Research Council UK Fellow and now serves on IHRR’s management board. As a physical geographer, Nick is interested in changes in the landscape that lead to slope failures causing landslides and rockfalls. His research has contributed to the aims and mission of Durham’s International Landslide Centre. He investigates how slopes fail in both the lab and field, gaining important insights that can assist risk management of regions highly prone to landslides, such as Nepal. In the UK Nick’s research focuses upon coastal rock slope collapse, and innovative approaches to monitoring and modelling this process. Specifically Nick employs the latest 3D laser scanning technology to monitor deformations in the rock that can lead to hazards. Much of this work can be used to develop low-tech applications for landslide early warning systems that can be used by local communities at risk, and conversely in real-time slope safety monitoring systems in large opencast mines.

IHRR Newsletter

Christopher Moyes Memorial Fellow – Muhammad Jahedul Huq Jahed Huq completed his MSc in Risk in the Department of Geography and Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. Prior to studying for his MSc, Jahed worked at ActionAid Bangladesh on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and at Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies as Research Officer on climate change. Climate change is expected to worsen the problem by increasing flood risks that threaten all aspects of people’s lives in Bangladesh, especially the poor. After completing his MSc, Jahed is now doing his PhD on the ‘Political Economy of Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh’, which investigates how discussions about climate change adaptation are framed politically in

Bangladesh and how they are translated into adaptation projects. His research is funded by the Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation. For his PhD thesis, Jahed is researching what impacts climate change adaptation policy in Bangladesh will have on the most vulnerable people living in the country, namely the poor. He is interviewing experts, NGO representatives and people in government about how they are prioritising climate adaptation in their activities, and local communities to find out how they perceive climate change adaptation. This research has large implications for how Bangladesh can develop suitable policies that address both the needs of government and the communities they must support in adapting to environmental hazards caused by a changing climate. For more about the Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation visit:

BIOPICCC Toolkit Launched during extreme weather events a number of different partners need to be involved in the public, voluntary and private sectors and local communities and individuals have an important role to play. Health and social care services and infrastructure rely on utilities like power, water and water supplies, roads and communication networks. The BIOPICCC project has launched an online toolkit for assisting local planning for older people’s health and social care facilities to make services better adapted to the effects of climate change. The BIOPICCC (Built Infrastructure for Older People’s Care in Conditions of Climate Change) toolkit provides a series of resources to assist local authorities, partner organisations, and neighbourhood and community groups with local level resilience planning. The resources are designed to support users to develop plans to make health and social care services for older people (aged 65 years and older) more resilient to the effects of extreme weather.

‘We need to take a more joined up approach to planning adaptation for climate change at local level since many different groups need to be involved and think more about how to make systems in place more resilient to extreme weather,’ said Professor Sarah Curtis, one of the principal investigators on the BIOPICCC project. Researchers in the BIOPICCC project are collaborating with partners in national and local agencies and communities to provide research findings that can support action in localities around the country to respond to the National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change. The BIOPICCC Toolkit can be accessed at researchprojects/biopiccc/toolkit/.

In order to care for vulnerable older people Spring 2013


Tipping Points Research Reports on some of the latest research from the Tipping Points project funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Instability: A Barrier to Fusion Energy?

Inside the NIF Target Chamber Nuclear fusion -- the physical process that powers the Sun -- has massive implications for generating energy on Earth, yet not all of the fundamental physics needed for its practical realisation is well understood. Attempts to replicate fusion on Earth have been ongoing for over half a century, but doing so in a controlled fashion has proven more difficult than originally thought. In physics and engineering there are many phenomena that are familiar on macroscopic scales, such as the transfer of heat in a coal power plant, or conversion of kinetic energy from a waterfall into hydroelectricity, but as things scale down further and further scientists encounter exotic phenomena that are not universally known, if at all. When researchers begin to run into problems they have never encountered before, new theoretical research is needed. This is especially true in fusion physics, where enormous temperatures reduce atoms to their constituent charged particles, form a plasma, and then interact via electromagnetic forces in unusual ways.


What is a plasma? Plasma is known as the ‘Fourth State of Matter’ in physics after solids, liquids and gases. When a gas is energised to the point at which electrons break free from their atoms it becomes ionised, forming a plasma. Plasma is the most common state of matter in the universe.

The sun, lightning, northern lights and electric sparks are all examples of plasmas.

Recent research in plasma physics led by Dr John Bissell from the Tipping Points project could help point physicists and engineers working on nuclear fusion projects, such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in the US, in the right direction. According to Bissell and colleagues from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, researchers need to be aware of a range of phenomena that their models currently neglect if they are to better understand fusion plasmas. In particular, some answers may lie in resolving plasma instabilities, not least for Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) experiments like that at NIF, where plasma inside a gold can -- or hohlraum -- is heated by high energy lasers. For starters, the basic theory behind how electrons transport heat in laser-fusion experiments is not always considered. Despite some progress made, NIF still has much work to do if it is to reach its goal of achieving ‘ignition’ (a self-sustained fusion reaction, or burn), and one of the reasons for this may be not fully accounting for how electrons transfer heat in the first place. In the absence of IHRR Newsletter

NIF Target Chamber magnetic fields, ‘conductive’ or ‘diffusive’ heat flow is normally well understood: electrons collide with particles in the plasma, and as they spread through it they take energy with them. However, if a magnetic field is present, charged electrons can be ‘deflected’, complicating the process of heat flow. This is important because concentration of heat is essential for igniting a fusion burn, and the intimate relationship between thermal energy and pressure means that Spring 2013

localised ‘hot spots’ form interfering with fuel compression that is needed for fusion to take place. If ignition can be achieved it will bring nuclear fusion closer to becoming a reliable and powerful source of energy, perhaps capable of resolving some of the world’s energy problems, but that may only be the beginning. This dream is locked in with phenomena that in extreme physical


conditions, such as those at NIF, can unexpectedly interfere with experimental design. According to Bissell, it is often assumed that for a magnetic field to be present in a plasma, it must be imposed externally, but researchers sometimes

Hohlraum that holds the spherical capsule of fuel ignore the fact that plasmas tend to generate their own magnetic fields, with consequences for the heat-flow required to make atomic nuclei fuse together. If researchers are neglecting the magnetic field generated by the plasma itself, then they may not be able to see some of the root causes of their problems. Indeed, while ICF physicists recognise that magnetic fields do exist inside of the hohlraum, the effects of the field on laser-plasma interactions are not necessarily acknowledged.

collide with ions, which scatters their motion into thermal energy, a process known as inverse bremsstrahlung (IB) heating. IB heating is important for understanding the laser heating of plasmas in fusion experiments because it can distort the distribution of energies in the plasma. Bissell and colleagues note in their study that IB heated plasmas tend to have more slow electrons and fewer fast electrons, relative to other kinds of plasmas, and because fast electrons are responsible for most of the thermal energy transfer, heat flow in IB plasmas can be strongly suppressed by up to 80-90%. Given that IB is a key mechanism for heating inertial confinement fusion plasmas, this effect could be significant: not only for heat-flow itself, but also for related phenomena, such as the generation of magnetic fields. If the plasma exhibits temperature gradients (spatial variations in the temperature) and density gradients (spatial variations in the density) then these features can interact to generate a magnetic field. As noted earlier, this is important because heat-flow deflected by the magnetic field can further concentrate thermal energy, enhance the temperature gradient, and lead to even more

“When they started working on NIF they assumed that they were talking about experiments where they could do very simple modelling and I think they’re beginning to realise that things like electron transport, magnetic field generation, all these kinds of more exotic laser plasma phenomena, actually might be really key”, said Bissell. In order to understand what researchers may be missing you need to look closely at how lasers heat up plasmas in the first place. Laser light itself is an electromagnetic wave that oscillates (or swings) back and forth in a constant rhythm. As the laser light passes through the plasma, it causes electrons to accelerate up and down like boats bobbing in a harbour, giving them energy. The electrons then


The fuel capsule is 2mm in diameter containing a super-cooled hydrogen fuel field being generated via positive feedback, or instability. This is called field generating thermal instability and although Bissell says that it isn’t really clear what’s determining the actual field, IHRR Newsletter

“…it could be contributing to field generation in ICF hohlraums, and if it’s doing that it could be important later on for drive uniformity” (compression of the fuel). “Instabilities are amongst some of the main problems with doing fusion”, he said. Another issue with ICF is in the techniques they’re using to model the distribution of electrons in the plasma. Normally in a plasma the distribution of electron speeds follow what is known as a ‘Gaussian’ or `bell curve’, but the problem is that because the lasers fired at the plasma are of such high intensity, it’s not Gaussian at all. When a plasma is heated by IB it generates more slow moving electrons and fewer fast heat carrying electrons. On the other hand, even relatively small numbers of very fast moving electrons can be important, because they can transfer thermal energy without diffusing in the normal way. Much of the computational modelling at NIF fails to account for these effects, and for good reason: cost. The numerical calculations necessary for simulating inertial confinement fusion experiments are extremely expensive. But Bissell thinks there’s a way of getting around some of the problems by including IB in the underlying physical description. “That’s something that can be implemented relatively easily. And it could be important, especially at early times when IB has really dominant effects”, he said. But he admits that “while certain phenomena may be key at early stages in ICF experiments, they may not be as important later on”.

Nevertheless, physicists and engineers working on ICF projects probably would do best to listen to their theoretical colleagues, especially since ignition is proving far more elusive than anticipated. “They need to start getting more theorists onto this kind of area, and pay attention to complicated phenomena that require much more theoretical and experimental investigation”, said Bissell. Researcher Behind the Study: Dr John Bissell is a physical scientist on Work Package 3 of the Tipping Points project in mathematics. A plasma physicist by training, John’s current research is focused on modelling the spread of public health problems such as smoking in human populations. He is interested in how disciplines in physics, mathematics and the social sciences can inform one another to develop new insights into complex problems. Photos credit: Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Close-up of the hohlraum used in NIF experiments Spring 2013


Emotion Words in Books Reflect Trends in 20th Century History and Culture Researchers from Tipping Points together with colleagues from Bristol University have for the first time tracked how words in British and American English books published in the 20th century correspond with historical and cultural trends. They categorised the words according to moods such as sadness, disgust, joy, fear and surprise. English language is well-known for its ‘mood words’. Try reading literary heavyweights such Virgina Woolf, Charles Dickens, William Blake or Shakespeare without encountering emotional expression. Emotion can capture a time, place, event or person like no other. (a)

4 American–British (z-scores)

American–British (z-scores)


Since the study included American and British English books it compared how often mood words appear in both respective forms of English literature. The research team found that American books have gradually used more mood words than British books in the last








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4 American–British (z-scores)

American–British (z-scores)











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Difference between American English and British English 1900-2000. Figure a: Emotion words Figure b: Content-free words Figure c: Random sample Figure d: 100 largest agglomerations in the world


IHRR Newsletter

4 Emotion–Random (z-scores)

Joy-Sadness (z-scores)

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half of the 20th century, although mood words have been used less frequently overall in recent decades. Findings also point to some interesting correspondences between words in published English books and historical time periods. The vast size of data available on book words gives researchers a unique tool for examining cultural trends. The Google books data set is comparable to physical data such as temperature, but is much greater in volume, which prevents inconsistencies or ‘noise’ conflicting with the results. ‘If you’ve got millions of books or hundreds of thousands for each year then any effects unique to a particular author or style of text become vastly reduced when compared with the whole body of data’, said Tipping Points researcher Dr Philip Garnett, a co-author of the study. Researchers found a ‘sad peak’ during the Second World War in books from American and Britain and two ‘happy peaks’ in the 1920s and 1960s. While the frequencies of nearly all moods expressed in 20th century English books, fear is the one exception. Fear experienced a decline in the early 20th century, but has increased significantly since the 1970s. In comparison, ‘disgust’ had the lowest frequency, especially in 2000. Currently, the use of mood words in books is historically less frequent in America and Britain. Spring 2013

1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 Year

But there is one caveat: if words change meaning more frequently in coming years then it will be more difficult to do this kind of research. Take ‘wicked’ for example, which was normally associated with a negative emotion, but is now used to describe something people are excited about. In slang, ‘bad’ can mean ‘good’ depending on the context in which it is used. There is currently no direct explanation for why the use of mood words is going down in English books. Researchers also used contemporary mood word lists from Twitter data to describe recent events, but no increase in usage was found. Researcher Behind the Study Dr Philip Garnett is a researcher on Work Package 4 of the Tipping Points project: Metaphor and Agency. He has training in biology, physics and computer science culminating into his PhD in computational biology. His research for the project investigates what makes something popular or trendy in human culture and focuses on the modelling of human behaviour and the evolution of language.


Interview with Dr Chris Massey, GNS Science in New Zealand Dr Chris Massey is an Engineering Geologist with GNS Science and a Durham University alumnus who visited IHRR earlier this year. Chris has collaborated with researchers in hazard research at Durham University, including Professor Dave Petley and Dr Nick Rosser. In this interview Chris talks about field research on rock falls in New Zealand after the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, hazard mitigation, early warning systems, and the importance of policy to scientific research. You’ve done some quite interesting work in investigating rock falls after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Tell me about some of the research you’ve done so far and the implications it has for post-disaster reconstruction. At first it started with helping the search and rescue geotechnical people assess what areas they should be looking at. Then it evolved into helping and bringing together all of the consultants to develop a risk methodology for rock falls, debris flows and avalanches. We’ve been working very closely with both the council and with


the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). Together we have zoned about 2,000 properties in the Port Hills. The total value is somewhere around 1.5 billion dollars (NZ). We’ve done the risk assessment for rock falls. Five people were killed by rock falls in Christchurch after the earthquake. But we’re also looking at the risk to life from larger failures, classic landslides, mass movements, and there’s a component of looking at the risk to buildings as well as structural damage. The Port Hills are the hilly part of Christchurch which is part of an extinct volcano and so it tends to have very complex geology. In these areas we also have big landslides where they’re mainly in the sediments at the bottom of the more hilly basalt areas. They’re not a risk to life in that they haven’t moved catastrophically to kill people, but they have damaged homes quite significantly, especially if you’re at the top of the landslide in the cracking area or at the bottom.

IHRR Newsletter

Spring 2013


How can people learn to mitigate these forms of hazard? The best hazard mitigation is avoidance. I think there’s a lot to be said about trying to identify these hazards or risks in the early stage, such as planning consent. When somebody puts an application in to build a house these are actually identified at that stage, so we don’t start populating zones that are inherently risky. Now the problem we’ve got is that there are a lot of houses that are already there, somebody could have lived there for 50 years of their life and now all of a sudden it’s too risky because of the earthquake. It comes down to planning. Debris avalanches were a major hazard caused by the earthquake, such as boulders falling from cliffs and crashing into people’s homes. What research have you been doing on this particular hazard? There’s a crossover between the need for Christchurch city council to zone houses to allow people to move on with their lives, and the need for the research community to understand what controls the travel distance of the boulders.


We’ve collected this fantastic data set that can be used for risk assessment, but at the same time to understand the rock fall process. One of the big issues we have with rock falls is predicting where they go and that is a three dimensional issue, but the majority of rock fall monitoring is two dimensional; this is where field testing is really important. The reason we could do field testing was because all of the railroad tracks in the Port Hills were shut because of the deaths on the tracks from rock falls, so we had a situation where we could actually get out and throw boulders down slopes that are 700 m long. We used various methods to initiate the rock falls, but essentially the rocks are so shaken and loose [from the earthquake], they can break off from the cliff easily. We spray painted a series of these boulders and numbered them and then put video cameras along the edge of the trail and from the top. Then we literally threw a good representative set of boulders off from one location and then located them with GPS to find out where they ended up. We were looking at the spatial variability across the slope. What we found was that from one source area the boulders generated from this one IHRR Newsletter

location could deviate 30 degrees more or less from the line of fall. If you use your classic rock fall 3D models you just don’t get that because in most cases the boulders that are being used or modelled are spherical, where in fact as soon as you start to put in boulder shapes and angles and change material properties you start getting different bounces and patterns. One of the most effective ways for boulders to move down a slope is skipping or jumping, and rolling.

as working very closely with the local government and emergency management, to actually setup a robust emergency management plan for landslides, which brings all these scientific and social aspects together. Those plans are critical really.

In the field what we’ve also done is mapped boulder trails. The furthest run out we mapped was around 750 m and that boulder went straight through a house, but no one was harmed. So the database of falling boulders at the moment is something like 10,000 or more boulders that have actually been mapped. But there’s a sample bias, we tend to only map boulders greater than ½ cubic metre. They are mainly in residential areas. We’re using those distributions to back analyse and test the 3D models.

It’s all well and good doing science but policy is the critical bit. There’s this policy zone that often gets forgotten about and I think really, that’s a critical part of the work that we’ve been doing, especially in Christchurch. The policy is fundamental, without the policy the science wouldn’t get done. At that level it’s really important to have a fully integrated approach, not just a scientific approach. But I think at the local level it’s about understanding that local communities have a good knowledge of the areas they live in and they will often be the first people to actually understand there’s something happening, so it’s about empowering or giving people the knowledge that needs to be known in order for them to understand what signs to look out for.

How useful are early warning systems in detecting hazards before they become a problem? After the Christchurch research and previous work that I’ve been involved with we’ve put monitoring equipment in place, but we’ve kind of stayed away from going to the next stage of providing early warning systems. Although we can do that and we’ve done that for various people, it’s the cost of maintaining these systems. They’re really huge. And there’s also a certain amount of institutional risk involved because once you commit to monitoring something for hazard warning purposes then you have to maintain it. Say we have a big landslide, GNS gets involved because of a national interest; we put instruments out on the landslide. Those instruments are used to aid our understanding of landslides, they will not be there to provide warning although the data could be relayed and used for warning. We make sure the local authorities use the data and set the warnings with our scientific input.

What is the role of policy in helping researchers and communities better prepare for hazards?

Further information about research on the 2011 Christchurch earthquake available at http://www.gns. A video of GNS Science’s rock fall field research is posted on IHRR’s blog:

Also, it’s all well and good in having a warning system in place, but data you’re collecting to provide the hazard warning is only one part of the whole system. You then have to have a series of actions linked to triggers and thresholds, such Spring 2013


Fragile Futures – Calls for Submissions Tipping Points researcher Dr Marc Botha is guest editor of a new special issue of The English Academy Review: Southern African Journal of English Studies on fragility. The English Academy Review proposes to investigate the relation between literature, fragility, and the future in a special issue on Fragile Futures. We invite essays of up to 5000 words which interrogate how literature, criticism and theory have or might be able to clarify historical fragilities and to confront the fragility of the future, to offer forms of regional or global resistance to crisis or catastrophe, and to foster resilience and hope with respect to the fragile future with which we are all confronted. The characteristic fragility of human existence has always been marked by a deep ambivalence regarding the future. On the

one hand, ceaseless crisis and catastrophe appear to justify a pervasive pessimism, while on the other, it is difficult not to marvel at the seemingly boundless human capacity for novelty, invention and change. Literature, in particular, has the unique capacity simultaneously to exemplify and critically examine the fragile co-existence of utopian and dystopian visions of the future. Indeed, the literary imagination has the ability to negotiate the multiple valences of the past, the contingencies of the present and alternate visions of the future. Submissions should reach The English Academy Review by 31 MARCH 2014 and should be submitted electronically as a Word document to englishacademy@societies.wits. as well as in hard copy to the following address: English Academy Office, P.O. Box 124, Wits, 2050 Johannesburg, South Africa

Publications Akinbami F. ‘Is meta-regulation all it’s cracked up to be? the case of UK financial regulation’. Journal of Banking Regulation, 14, 1:16-32.

implied toxicity of ash produced from sugarcane burning’. Environmental Toxicology. DOI: 10.1002/ tox.21776.

Tomasic R. and Akinbami F. ‘Trust and public companies: beginning to reconceptualise corporate law in a networked world’. Australian Journal of Corporate Law. 27:233-261.

Weinstein P., Horwell C.J., Cook A. ‘Volcanic emissions and health’. Book chapter in: ‘Essentials of Medical Geology’, 2nd edition (Eds: Selinus O. et al). Springer Verlag.

Clark T., Greatbatch D. and Bhatanacharoen P. ‘Consulting, Gurus and Big Ideas’. Mercury, Special Issue.

Stevenson J.A., Loughlin S.C., Font A., Fuller GW, MacLeod A., Oliver I.W., Jackson B., Horwell C.J., Thordarson T., Dawson I.Willis P.: (in press) ‘UK monitoring and deposition of tephra from the May 2011 eruption of Grímsvötn, Iceland’. Journal of Applied Volcanology.

Damby D.E., Horwell C.J., Baxter P.J., Delmelle P., Donaldson K., Dunster C., Fubini B., Murphy F., Nattrass C., Sweeney S., Tetley T. and Tomatis M. ‘The respiratory health hazard of tephra from the 2010 Centennial eruption of Merapi with implications for occupational mining of deposits’. J Volcanol Geotherm Res, doi. org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2012.09.001 Le Blond J.S., Tomatis M., Horwell C.J., Dunster, C., et al. ‘The surface reactivity and


Baxter P.J., Searl A., Cowie H.A., Jarvis D.. and Horwell C.J. (in press) Evaluating the respiratory health risks of volcanic ash at the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, 19952010. In: G. Wadge, R. Robertson and B. Voight (Eds), ‘The Eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010’. Memoir of the Geological Society of London. IHRR Newsletter

Publications Horwell C.J., Hillman S.E., Cole P.D., Loughlin S.C., Llewellin E.W., Damby D.E., Christopher T.A.. (in press) ‘Cristobalite content of ash generated by 15 years of activity of the Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat’. In: G. Wadge, R. Robertson and B. Voight (Eds), ‘The Eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010’. Memoir of the Geological Society of London.

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

Ormerod P. ‘Social networks can spread the Olympic effect’. Nature, 489, 387. Ormerod P. Positive Linking:How Networks Can Revolutionise the World. Faber and Faber. Acerbi A., Lampos V., Garnett P., Bentley R.A. ‘The Expression of Emotions in 20th Century Books’. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59030. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0059030 Bissell J.J., Ridgers C.P. & Kingham R.J. ‘Super-Gaussian transport theory and the fieldgenerating thermal instability in laser-plasmas’. New Journal of Physics 15(2): 025017. http://dro. Williams, Kingham, and Bissell, ‘Heat-flux effects on magnetic field dynamics in solid density plasmas traversed by relativistic electron beams’, (accepted for publication in Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. Bissell J.J., Caiado C., Goldstein M., and Straughan B., ‘Compartmental Modelling of Social Dynamics with Generalised Peer Incidence’ (accepted for publication in Mathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences, April 2013)

IHRR is pleased to announce the second issue of its full colour magazine reporting on research in hazards, risk and resilience throughout Durham University. The magazine is available online and hard copies are available in IHRR’s foyer. If you would like to receive the magazine via email or in the post please send an email to ihrr.admin@ with name and address. These are some of the topics featured in this issue: • Disaster through the Eyes of Religion • B ank Bailouts • Volcanic Health Hazards • Geohazard vulnerability in Nepal • Photo Stories of Resilience • Interviews with key researchers and practitioners in hazard and risk Download the magazine at iPad version coming soon.

Spring 2013


IHRR in the Media Professor Peter Atkins was featured in the Financial Times and other news publications for two recent studies co-authored with PhD student Philip Robinson on the spread of Bovine tuberculosis in cattle and badgers. A podcast about the research is available online: Professor Sarah Curtis was interviewed by BBC Radio Cumbria and ITV Tyne Tees on how extreme weather events are becoming more common in the UK.

A study co-authored by Tipping Points researchers Dr Philip Garnett and Professor Alex Bentley (Bristol University) on emotion words in 20th Century English literature received wide media coverage including Nature, New Scientist, New Statesman and many others. An Op-Ed, ‘The Buzzwords of the Crowd’, by Professor Alex Bentley and Michael J. O’Brien about the findings of their study on climate words appeared in the New York Times.

Latest Posts from IHRR’s Blog Photo stories of resilience runners-up A first analysis of the potential landslide distribution from the Iran earthquake Future trends in natural hazard losses The rise of the word resilience

New ‘toolkit’ for helping older people’s health care facilities adapt to extreme weather Climate change perception matters Air pollution: An old hazard with big consequences for Asia

IHRR Presents ‘Matariki Plus’ network colloquium on Disaster Preparedness, Response and Resilience An international perspective on disaster preparedness, response and resilience was the subject of a meeting held 28-30 April 2013 at Durham University. The discussion showed that participants share an interest to work together with the aim of building international collaboration and exchange on disaster preparedness, response and resilience and a number of actions were agreed to take the collaboration forward.

of Western Australia). Also taking part were participants from Canterbury Christchurch (working closely with Otago University and Durham University) and Coimbra University Portugal (linked to Durham through an ERASMUS exchange). The meeting was convened by the Institute of Hazard risk and Resilience at Durham University and was supported by a development grant from Durham University. For further information about this group and the discussion that took place please contact:

Researchers at Durham met with representatives of research teams at several Matariki Networked Universities (Dartmouth College USA; Tuebigen University, Germany; University


IHRR Newsletter

James Balog hangs off cliff by Columbia Glacier, Alaska to install time-lapse camera. Photograph by Tad Pfeffer/Extreme Ice Survey © 2007 Extreme Ice Survey Researchers from the Tipping Points project, Professor Antony Long and Dr Eleanor Maddison, along with Dr Sim Reaney were part of a panel discussion after a screening of the stunning film on climate change Chasing Ice at the Star & Shadow Cinema in Newcastle. The event hosted by Professor Sarah Curtis was sold out and attracted attention from the local media along with environmental groups in the North East. It was very successful leading to lively and interactive discussion with the audience

Audience at film screening of Chasing Ice at the Star & Shadow Cinema in Newcastle.

IHRR Postgraduate Forum ‘Doing Fieldwork: Challenges and Opportunities’ IHRR hosted a very well received Postgraduate Forum on doing field research. It included presentations of field work from a variety of disciplines including geology, anthropology, Spring 2013

archaeology and geography. The main goal of the Postgraduate Forum is to give postgraduate researchers at Durham the opportunity to present and discuss their research within one or more of the themes of hazard, risk and resilience. The Postgraduate Forum also gives students the opportunity to consider perspectives on doing research they may not have considered before. Professor Sarah Curtis kicked off the forum by giving a brief introduction to the research and mission of IHRR, followed by four presentations by researchers. Discussions at the forum were diverse moving from how to do risk assessment and planning for field work to potential hazards encountered by researchers, and presenting the context of research to communities involved. Challenging your pre-conceived notions about communities in which your field work takes place, especially if your research is ethnographic, was raised by Dr Elena E. Burgos-Martinez in her presentation ‘The Impact of Environmental Change on Language Development Among Two Bajua Communities of the Celebes Sea’. Presenter Dr Elias Lopez-Romero, a Marie Curie Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, focused on the preservation and protection of valuable sites in archaeological field research as they are both vulnerable and resilient to environmental factors. Issues of personal safety were also discussed especially the support and resources available from Durham University if an emergency should arise during students’ field work. Participants in the forum also had the opportunity to talk about doing field


research within individual groups before going into a Q&A discussion with Dr Nick Rosser. Jaafar Jotheri a Geo-archaeology PhD student in Earth Sciences originally from Iraq gave an interesting presentation, ‘Risks and advantages of doing fieldwork in Iraq’, about some of the hazards and risks that can be experienced in his home country while doing field research. Despite the risks Jaafar explained that there are good reasons to do field work in Iraq. He highlighted the value of field work in Iraq that can be published in high impact journals. Towards the end of the forum, Nick presented on field work risk assessment and how good planning can make field research safer and more efficient. Collecting data from the field is no easy task, especially if it involves exposure to environmental hazards. Nick reminded participants that risk assessments need to be done because sometimes problems do arise and you need deal with them if or when they happen. Preparation is key. Overall the Postgraduate Forum was a huge success in bringing together a diverse array of postgraduate researchers, who also expressed interest in being more involved with the work of the Institute. Many when asked agreed that the forum gave them a more informed perspective on doing field research and was helpful in making them aware of some of the problems they could encounter and how to prepare for them. Professor Alex Densmore and Dr Claire Horwell organised a successful ‘Research Generator’ meeting bringing together hazard researchers from Geography and Earth Sciences. Dr John Bissell was invited to the Science of Ignition on the National Ignition Facility - Collaboration Opportunities Meeting at the University of Oxford, and Study of Electron Transport & B-Field Dynamics Relevant to Hohlraum LPI (TAW12210018) Central Laser Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratories on an Advisory Visit. Dr Katie Oven and Dr Jonathan Wistow presented the BIOPICCC project and Professor Sarah Curtis gave an introduction to the work of IHRR at special meeting with the Insurance Institute of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

IHRR met with three other institutes focused on hazard and risk at the Royal Geographical Society: UCL, Kings College London and Bristol, to discuss our shared agendas concerning work on hazard, risk and resilience. In collaboration with the International Office, Professor Sarah Curtis, Professor Lena Dominelli, Dr Claire Horwell, Dr Katie Oven and Professor Robin Conningham met with representatives of foreign embassies, NGOs and charitable funding agencies at the Royal Geographical Society to introduce the research of the Institute. The launch of David Divine’s new book, focusing on resilience in childhood based on research from his PhD, was chaired by his supervisor Professor Lena Dominelli and attended by Children’s Commissioners for England and Scotland. Congratulations David. Professor Lena Dominelli was plenary speaker at the Global Climate Change talks in Doha on environmental justice and social work: Professor Sarah Curtis convened a Rapid Prospective Health and Wellbeing Assessment Workshop for members of Durham County Council, entitled: ‘Health Impact Assessment – developing the evidence base’. She also presented at the meeting and led the plenary discussion for the workshop. Other Durham University colleagues supporting the workshop were Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite, Dr Wayne Medford and four Risk Masters students (Azizullah Safi, Djoni, Mamata Ghimire and Charlotte Hammer) as well as Dr Alyson Learmonth, a fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute. Dr Eleanor Maddison and Dr Helen Ranner attended the Quaternary Research Association conference in Newcastle. Eleanor gave the talk ‘Neoglacial cooling: a multiproxy approach’ and Helen presented a poster: ‘Tipping Points: Rapid Neo-glacial transitions in the North Atlantic Region’. Professor Dave Petley presented on dilemmas


IHRR Newsletter

relating to landslide hazard and risk assessment and Professor Phil Macnaugten also presented his work in governing geoengineering at the ‘Responsible Science and Public Engagement: A Dilemmas Café’ organised by Philip Robinson (Centre for Community Justice) and sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Study. A report summarising the event is available online Dave also co-convened a session on rockfalls and rockslides at EGU in Vienna, gave an invited

keynote lecture at the International Seminar to Commemorate the 5th Anniversary Wenchuan earthquake in China and gave an invited paper at the landslides session for the Japanese Geosciences Union in Tokyo, Japan. Prof Louise Amoore was featured on BBC Radio 4 in the programme ‘The maths of spies and terrorists’. programmes/b01snyk3.

IHRR Seminar Series The following seminars were given in IHRR for its Monday seminar series, plus seminars from visitors: ‘Developing healthy and socially resilient cities in Europe and China in response to Climate Change impacts’, Dr Clive Sabel, University of Exeter ‘Disease in South Asia: Impact of Climate Change’, Prof Manzurul Hassan, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh ‘Laboratory geophysics simulations of crustal processes: Applications to volcanic risk and forecasting’, Dr Philip Benson, University of Portsmouth ‘Does good risk assessment lead to good adaptation in responding to climate change?’, Julian Wright, Senior Advisor for Climate Change, Environment Agency ‘Integrating Hazard, Risks and Socio-economics in Chemical Risk Management’, Meg Postle, Director, Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd

Spring 2013

‘Spatialities of security and surveillance: Managing spaces, separations and circulations at sport mega events’, Dr Francisco R. Klauser, Université de Neuchâtel ‘Characterisation of rockfalls triggered by the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence, New Zealand, and determination of rockfall risk’, Dr Chris Massey, GNS Science New Zealand ‘The Cultural Construction of Rivers and Revenge of Nature’, Professor Manzurul Mannan, Independent University Bangladesh ‘Climate Change: Vulnerability and Adaptation in Coastal Bangladesh’, Professor Subash Chandra Das, Jahangirnagar University ‘Following the fire engine: sowing, prospecting and qualifying risk in low finance’, Dr Liz Mcfall, Open University ‘Earthquake rupture propagation processes: a field and laboratory perspective’, Dr Nicola De Paola, Rock Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Earth Sciences


Awards and Grants Durham PhD student Nahid Rezwana has been awarded a unique fellowship from the United Nations Development Programme to study the effects of disasters on women’s access to health care in the coastal region of Bangladesh. Nahid Rezwana’s research in IHRR and the Department of Geography will analyze the incidence of health problems among the inhabitants of the coastal region of Bangladesh with the availability of health care facilities during and after disaster periods. Placing women at the centre of her inquiry, the work aims to uncover women’s experiences and challenges in accessing health care services during and after disasters. The study will present policy recommendations to improve disaster mitigation plans in Bangladesh and to reduce the

effects of natural disasters on human welfare and well being in the hazard-prone coastal regions of the country. Dr Dave Selby and Professor Bob Holdsworth received £204K from BP Exploration and Operating Company for ‘Rhenium-osmium geochronology’. Professor Anoush Ehteshami has been selected as Routledge’s author of the month for his book ‘Dynamics of Change in the Persian Gulf ’ and has been appointed to the President’s International Advisory Board for the Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences. Dr Claire Horwell has been awarded £7000 from the University’s Impact Seedcorn fund to develop preparedness plans for volcanic eruptions with governmental health ministries and agencies in Singapore, New Zealand and Japan. She has also been invited to join the Cabinet Office’s Expert Advisory Group for Risk H55 in the National Risk Register. H55 is the risk to the UK from the impacts of effusive gas-rich volcanic eruption.

Welcome Katie Thurlbeck has joined the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience as Trainee Secretary and will provide support to IHRR’s administrative office.

Visitors Professor Manzurul Hassan, Professor Nazrul Islam and Professor Subash Chandra Das from Jahangirnagar University visited IHRR and the Department of Geography through the INSPIRE programme. Dr Chris Massey from GNS Science in New Zealand visited IHRR and the Department of Geography.


Dr He Honglin and Shi Feng, are visiting from the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing. Honglin is a senior researcher in the Institute of Geology at CEA in Beijing, working on active faulting and tectonic geomorphology in China. Feng is working on his PhD under Honglin at the Institute of Geology, focusing on active faults in Yunnan province, and on the 2008 Wenchuan and 2010 Yushu earthquakes in eastern Tibet.

IHRR Newsletter

Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience

Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Durham University Lower Mountjoy, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK

Introduction The Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) supports the capacity of researchers from across Durham University to make a difference to how we live with emerging hazards and risks. IHRR is a nerve centre for innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to hazard and risk research in the UK and throughout the world. We are championing key research programmes in hazards, vulnerability and resilience. The Institute operates through a growing array of research projects and fellowships with significant external funding from UK Research Councils and other major grant awards and donations. It is involved in policy engagement in risk and hazard debates across much of the globe, strategy development with industry and wider stakeholders and also research consultancy. Our research aims to improve human resilience to geohazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and floods as well as those associated with climate change, terrorism, financial crises and use of modern technologies. It focuses particularly on the nature of hazard, risk and vulnerability in the developing world as well as developed regions. The Institute aims to develop radical new insight with regard to hazard and risk. By adopting an approach which directly engages policymakers, local communities and other stakeholders in the co-production of knowledge, the Institute aims to develop innovative policy and to increase social capacity for reducing vulnerability and harm.

Focus The Institute is developing three areas of activity through interdisciplinary research, allowing problems to be framed in different ways and new theoretical approaches and understandings to be developed in relation to existing problems. Hazards: how hazards are produced, particularly environmental hazards and notably landslides, floods, droughts, volcanoes, sea level rise and earthquakes; but also hazards that emerge in surprising ways, such as socio-technological and financial hazards. Vulnerabilities and Resilience: the vulnerabilities and resilience of communities that have to live with hazards, notably those communities whose vulnerabilities arise from poverty, changes in life course and social isolation, and where these in isolation and combination reduce resilience. Frontier Knowledge: innovative and creative ways of learning to live with the pervasive nature of hazard and risk, through new ways of risk learning, new forms of risk sharing and new ways of risk forecasting.

Examples of Current Research Activities Landslides: Exploring both the spatial and temporal distribution of landslides, and the impacts that they cause (Figure 1). Secondary Hazards: Examining the controls on secondary earthquake phenomena, particularly landslides and river basin changes, in space and time, while collaborating with social scientists to explore ways these hazards affect communities in developing countries in order to build resilience. Climate Adaptation: Understanding the diverse array of influences climate change has on species including humans, especially in the preparation of infrastructure needed for vulnerable groups, such as older people. Tipping Points: Researching the physical and social complexity of so-called ‘tipping points’ in past climate systems, historical and contemporary banking crises, knowledge diffusion and mathematics. Resilience: Developing innovative ways to build resilience in communities to the hazards that they face, ranging from threats from natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes in the Himalayas) through to acute social impacts.

Items for the Next Issue IHRR e-news only publishes what it knows about. If you have items for the next issue, please e-mail them by 16 August to:

Cover image: Rockfalls caused by the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Credit: Dave Petley

Contact Details: Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Durham University Durham DH1 3LE, UK

Director of IHRR: Professor Sarah Curtis

Tel: +44 (0)191 3342257 Fax: +44 (0)191 3341801

Design: Cartographic Unit, Department of Geography

Editor: Brett Cherry

IHRR Newsletter Spring 2013  

This university newsletter provides updates on research and researchers at the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Durham University.

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