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Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Tim R H Davies

COFUND Senior Research Fellow at Hatfield College, Durham University (April - June 2015)

Prof Tim Davies, Senior Lecturer in Engineering Geology, University of Canterbury, New Zealand is a world authority on rock fall and debris flows. His research stretches beyond the technical boundaries of engineering to understand the human implications of losses from hazards and now attempts to integrate it into a social context, asking, particularly, what leads to a resilient community.

Complex Dynamic Systems of resilience to environmental hazards. The Fellowship project is closely related to the ongoing IHRR work on increasing the resilience of communities in the mountains of Central and South Asia (Nepal and Bihar State) to high-intensity, low-frequency earthquakes and the consequential hazards of landslides and flooding. Specifically, Prof Davies, proposes to work on:

(1) finalising a Ms defining the limitations of conventional probability-based (reductionist) risk management procedures for designing disaster reduction strategies;

(2) Developing a framework whereby scenarios can be used as sources of public information about future disasters as representative situations to which resilience can be developed;

(3) Identifying the structural and behavioural characteristics of complex dynamic systems that enable them to survive and regenerate from severe system shocks; and

(4) Deriving, from these characteristics, indications of ways in which communities and society can develop procedures to become more resilient to severe and unexpected shocks. 

This project forms part of an initiative to develop research linkages between Durham University and New Zealand, linking strongly to the NERC/ESRC Earthquakes without Frontiers project, the EPSRC BIOPICCC project which focused on building resilience to weather-related events in the UK, and projects in Christchurch following the 2010/11 earthquakes, and ongoing research into potential consequences of a future Alpine Fault earthquake in New Zealand.