Natural hazards such as bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, severe weather, tsunami, and volcanoes can have severe impacts on all Australian states and territories. These phenomena threaten lives and damage private and public assets as well as disrupt water, power, transport, and communication services. Natural hazards and their associated impacts can also seriously affect employment and incomes to industry, agriculture, commerce and public administration.
In Australia, natural hazards are estimated to cost an average of A$1.25 billion annually (BTE, 2001), but the cost of individual hazards can be much greater. For example, in 1989 an earthquake cost the Newcastle community in New South Wales an estimated A$4.5 billion.
Natural hazards cannot be averted, but their consequences can be minimised by implementing mitigation strategies and reducing the potential impact to areas which are most vulnerable.
As part of our extensive work on natural hazard risk research, Geoscience Australia monitors and assesses Earth-surface processes which pose a risk to Australia. We gather data and develop tools for use by governments and other authorities to help them make Australia as safe as possible from natural hazards. The proactive steps we take against hazards include:
- recognising which areas have the greatest hazard potential
- measuring the likelihood of various hazards occurring in these priority areas
- modelling the impact of hazards
- estimating the potential loss to communities
- collecting data when a hazard occurs to help prepare for future events.