• Italian scientists face manslaughter charges for failing to predict 2009 L'Aquila earthquake

    Italian prosecutors have issued indictment against six scientists for failing to warn the residents of L’Aquila about the 6 April 2009 earthquake; the magnitude-6.3 earthquake caused 308 deaths and 1,600 injuries, and left more than 65,000 people homeless; prosecutors say the scientists participated in a press conference on 31 March, in which they encouraged residents not to move out of the L’Aquila region; coming to the defense of the seismologists, nearly 4,000 scientists from around the world have signed a letter to Italy’s president, urging him to focus on earthquake preparation rather than holding scientists responsible for something that they cannot do — predict earthquakes

  • DHS adopts ASIS's resilience standard for private sector organizations

    DHS has adopted ASIS International’s Organizational Resilience Standard as part of a program designed voluntarily to bolster the resilience of private organizations during man-made and natural disasters and emergencies

  • 2010 hurricane season is going to be a busy one

    The 2010 hurricane season, which began 1 June, is going to be a busy one: the National Hurricane Center forecasts a 70 percent chance of eight to fourteen storms reaching hurricane strength, and three to seven becoming dangerous “major” hurricanes of category 3 and above

  • Attention to design details will make buildings withstand hurricanes

    One example of design ideas architects in hurricane-prone regions should follow: design buildings with square, hexagonal, or even octagonal floor plans with roofs of multiple slopes such as a four-sloped hip roof; these roofs perform better under wind forces than the gable roofs with two slopes; gable roofs are common only because they are cheaper to build; research and testing demonstrate that a 30-degree roof slope will have the best results

  • Scientists monitor earthquakes in real time

    Better to understand earthquakes like El Mayor-Cucapah, researchers have set up GPS instruments throughout the state of California, as part of the California Real Time Network (CRTN); the CRTN consists of more than 130 continuous GPS receivers run by numerous agencies

  • 2010 hurricane season unusually active

    As if the on-going oil spill were not enough, people who live near the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic should brace themselves for an unusually active hurricane season this year (the hurricane seasons lasts from 1 June to 30 November); FSU researchers say there will be an average of seventeen named storms with ten of those storms developing into hurricanes in the Atlantic this season; the historical seasonal average is eleven tropical storms with six of them becoming hurricanes

  • Oregon town plans first tsunami-resistant building on stilts

    Geological findings in recent years suggest there is a one-in-three chance that in the next half century a mega-earthquake will tear the seafloor apart off the Oregon Coast; huge waves would surge onto coastal communities in as little as fifteen minutes; an Oregon city plans tsunami-resistant buildings on stilts

  • Berkeley quake demonstration shows bridge safety ideas

    Researchers demonstrate new bridge design that can withstand powerful earthquakes; the design concept relies on building segmented bridges with seismic isolators between the segments; the design would be particularly useful for long stretches of elevated freeways and high-speed rail lines that often run on elevated tracks

  • FEMA says immigration status to determine eligibility for disaster relief

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that the legal status of applicants for disaster relief will be taken into account in determining whether or not they are eligible for the agency’s Individual Assistance program’s grant funds

  • Louisiana children taught how to prepare for storms

    The 2010 hurricane season set to begin 1 June; from the Florida panhandle to Brownsville, Texas, there is a 44 percent chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall, compared to a 30 percent average in the last century; the Louisiana homeland security office offers a Get a Game Plan book for children in which the main character, Get-a-Game-Plan Gator, walks children through the necessary preparations for a natural disaster

  • Identifying disaster victims: Looking at teeth to determine victims' age at time of death

    In disasters which claim many victims as well as in an unsolved homicide case, looking at victims’ teeth to determine how old they were at the time of death would help in identifying them; age determination of unknown human bodies is important in the setting of a crime investigation or a mass disaster, because the age at death, birth date, and year of death, as well as gender, can guide investigators to the correct identity among a large number of possible matches

  • Katrina, Rita cleaned up polluted, lead-laden New Orleans soil

    It appears that hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with all the devastation they have caused, made one beneficial contribution to the future of New Orleans: decades of Louisiana-type corruption and collusion between the oil industry and the state government have caused the city’s soil to be heavily polluted, laden with lead, arsenic, and other poisonous substances; the sediments washed into the city by the hurricanes have blanketed the polluted soil, resulting in a dramatic drop in the presence of lead and arsenic in the city’s soil — and in the blood stream of children in the city

  • Oil spill, flooding create perfect storm for commerce, shipping

    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Icelandic volcanic eruption, and flooding in Tennessee have created a “perfect storm” for businesses that rely on an efficient supply chain; in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities the impacts of the spill may only be beginning; New Orleans is still down 200,000 to 250,000 residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The impending oil catastrophe could lead to further flight as jobs are lost and people default on their businesses and homes

  • Search-and-rescue dogs to be fitted with satellite navigation devices

    Spanish company develops dog collars fitted with satellite navigation technology; the collar will be used by search-and-rescue dog to help locate trapped victims after an earthquake or similar disasters; the technology combines information on the scenting abilities of the dog with data on its location

  • New California tremor map shows 50 new faults

    California has an estimated 15,000 faults; many of those are short, and experts have found no evidence that they have generated sizable temblors; others, though, can produce major quakes; the state’s geological agency have placed fifty new faults — all of them surface faults that have been discovered over the last two decades — on one map which will help educate the public and aid in planning and quake readiness