Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
Research article
23 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 23 Aug 2016

Hazard interactions and interaction networks (cascades) within multi-hazard methodologies

Joel C. Gill and Bruce D. Malamud

Abstract. This paper combines research and commentary to reinforce the importance of integrating hazard interactions and interaction networks (cascades) into multi-hazard methodologies. We present a synthesis of the differences between multi-layer single-hazard approaches and multi-hazard approaches that integrate such interactions. This synthesis suggests that ignoring interactions between important environmental and anthropogenic processes could distort management priorities, increase vulnerability to other spatially relevant hazards or underestimate disaster risk. In this paper we proceed to present an enhanced multi-hazard framework through the following steps: (i) description and definition of three groups (natural hazards, anthropogenic processes and technological hazards/disasters) as relevant components of a multi-hazard environment, (ii) outlining of three types of interaction relationship (triggering, increased probability, and catalysis/impedance), and (iii) assessment of the importance of networks of interactions (cascades) through case study examples (based on the literature, field observations and semi-structured interviews). We further propose two visualisation frameworks to represent these networks of interactions: hazard interaction matrices and hazard/process flow diagrams. Our approach reinforces the importance of integrating interactions between different aspects of the Earth system, together with human activity, into enhanced multi-hazard methodologies. Multi-hazard approaches support the holistic assessment of hazard potential and consequently disaster risk. We conclude by describing three ways by which understanding networks of interactions contributes to the theoretical and practical understanding of hazards, disaster risk reduction and Earth system management. Understanding interactions and interaction networks helps us to better (i) model the observed reality of disaster events, (ii) constrain potential changes in physical and social vulnerability between successive hazards, and (iii) prioritise resource allocation for mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

Short summary
Understanding interactions between hazards and other processes can help us to better understand the complex environment in which disasters occur. This enhanced understanding may help us to better manage hazards and reduce the risk of disasters occurring. Interactions (e.g. one hazard triggering another hazard) are noted between (i) natural hazards, such as earthquakes; (ii) human activity, such as groundwater abstraction; and (iii) technological hazards/disasters, such as building collapse.
Final-revised paper