Groundwork: How good do natural hazard assessments need to be?

Seth A Stein*, Jerome Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


The article discusses how good natural hazard assessments need to be. Society faces the challenge of choosing mitigation strategies, given that assessments of potential hazard have large uncertainties. This challenge is similar to that in national defense, involving choosing among expensive weapons and strategies to deal with poorly known future threats. like defense planners, hazard planners must decide how much is enough. For example, given the damage to new York City by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, options under consideration range from continuing to do little through intermediate strategies like providing doors to keep water out of vulnerable tunnels to building barriers to keep the surge out of rivers. Progressively more extensive mitigation measures cost more but are expected to produce increasing reduction of losses in future hurricanes. Relative to the optimum, less mitigation decreases mitigation costs but increases the expected damage and thus total cost, so it makes sense to invest more in mitigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-61
Number of pages2
JournalGSA Today
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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