Thursday December 18th, 2014 05:07 The Science of Natural Disasters

As recent events in Haiti and Chile have shown, the Earth is an amazingly dynamic and mobile planet. Solar heating of the Earth’s surface drives violent weather such as hurricanes; how the Earth absorbs and reflects this heat causes long term changes in climate. Likewise the cooling of the Earth’s deep interior to space drives geological motions, which lead to catastrophic events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Destructive earthquakes and volcanoes are closely linked through plate tectonics, and in particular where the sea-floor sinks down into the Earth’s rocky mantle at ocean trenches over hundreds of millions of years. The science behind these phenomena is rich and complex, but understanding it is a crucial part of hazard assessment and mitigation. Prof. David Bercovici, Professor of Geology & Geophysics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, presents this lecture at the Association of Yale Alumni Reunion Weekend on May 29, 2010.

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