A geography of natural perils

Russell Blong

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Earthquakes, tropical cyclones and floods are the most important natural perils in terms of human deaths on a global basis. In Australia, at least 4300 deaths in the last 200 years have been produced by heatwaves; about 2000-2200 each by tropical cyclones and floods; and bushfires and lightning strikes have each killed at least 650 people. On a global basis it appears that floods, tropical storms, droughts and earthquakes are the most damaging natural perils. In Australia, in terms of median damage per event, hailstorms are the most expensive insured natural peril, while three events - the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, 1974's Cyclone Tracy, and the 1990 Sydney hailstorm - produced 36 per cent of the total insured damage in the period since 1967. The Newcastle earthquake and the Sydney hailstorm have provided opportunities for new understandings of these perils and their consequences. While much has been learnt from the devastation of Rabaul town by the 1994 eruption, a rare opportunity for a detailed study of building damage has been lost. Without detailed studies, risk rating, where Risk = Hazard (or peril) X Vulnerability, is difficult.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1997


  • Damage
  • Deaths
  • Earthquakes
  • Hailstorms
  • Natural hazards
  • Newcastle
  • Perils
  • Rabaul
  • Risk
  • Sydney
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Vulnerability


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