The Cassas Landslide in North Western Italy

The Cassas Landslide in North Western Italy

Oct 14th, 2011

As we presented this case at an the WLF2 conference in Rome, we have decided to publish it on our blog.

A fully developed natural hazard risk management and mitigation approach.

It constitutes a complete and fully developed case study which included the following phases:

  • probabilistic behaviour forecast,

  • behaviour monitoring (which luckily allowed to actually “see happen” what we had predicted a few years earlier),

  • Risk Based Decision Making (RBDM), and finally

  • implementation of mitigative and crisis management plan.

Interestingly, in a curious turn of events, while doing some reconnaissance work on the landslide, two of us almost lost our lives in a helicopter crash. Risk managers are unfortunately not immune to risks…and somehow it was a good lesson for us to be in the “victim role” that day.

Some discussions on L’Aquila earthquake

During WLF2 many people were discussing the L’Aquila quake (and related phenomena), and, of course, the trial  where seven public officers are currently tried over their alleged failure to properly communicate risk. They belong to the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). One is a member of the Civil Protection Agency.

The defendants were members of a so-called “high risk committee”, a panel that had met just six days before the quake after numerous minor tremors shook the city.

Foreign press and media have erroneously reported that “Scientists went on trial Tuesday for failing to predict the earthquake that killed more than 300 people in 2009 in Central Italy” (an example of “lost in translation”?). The state accused the defendants of giving overly reassuring information to residents. Poor information was the cause of poor protective measures.

According to the indictment, the seven men are suspected “of having provided an approximative, generic and ineffective assessment of seismic activity risks as well as incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information.” People close to the victims hope this trial will change mindsets and will lead to greater attention given to communication of risks, focusing attention on a problem that we, at Riskope, have seen happening all over the world, from Japan to South America, and Europe…(we were defence expert-witnesses in trials against public officers in similar cases).

We would of course also wonder why higher governmental levels are not indicted for not enforcing strict anti-seismic building upgrades, but that’s an entirely different ball-game.

Reportedly. Prof. Domenico Giardini, the current president of the INGV told the media that the process was not about science but about the way it had been submitted to the public and the trial will cover the numerous “failures” in the chain of communication. ”We all have to work on new protocols and clearer about sharing information,” he said.

Apparently, contrary to what several groups have stated (for example the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) or The American Geophysical Union (AGU), no one is doubting the quality of the scientists , or trying to say that they should have foreseen “day and hour of the quake”, a prediction that, despite the efforts developed all over the world, still eludes scientific models.

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Category: Hazard, Mitigations, Risk analysis, Risk management

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