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Durham University

Research & business

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Hazards and Surface Change

A research group of the Department of Geography.

The principal aim of the Hazards and Surface Change cluster is to advance holistic approaches to understanding hazards as the outcome of recurrent or chronic physical processes that occur within specific societal settings, rather than as one-off events. In particular, we are focused on three interrelated challenges: (1) understanding the physical mechanisms of mass movements, coupling novel laboratory and field-based approaches with numerical modelling, to allow assessment of slope stability at societally-relevant scales; (2) quantitative estimation of the long-term and large-scale effects of mass movements on the sediment and terrestrial carbon cycles, including systematic assessment of how debris flows and earthquake-triggered landslides mobilise and transport sediment and organic carbon in montane environments; and (3) investigation of how scientific understanding of hazards - particularly around earthquakes, mass movements, and sea-level change - is used in decision-making and management processes - in particular, how ‘expert’ and local knowledge of hazards and surface change can coexist and inform both policy and practice.

For further information on the activities of this cluster, please contact Dr Robert Hilton.

Hazards and Surface Change website


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