Academic helps to coordinate national programme of geohazard science and activities

An academic from the University of Plymouth is to play an integral role in raising scientific and public awareness of the increasing threats posed by geohazards.

Dr Irene Manzella, Lecturer in Engineering Geology and Geohazards, has been nominated by the Geological Society as a deputy theme leader for its forthcoming work around Geohazards, Geoengineering and Georesilience.

A programme of work will involve the development of innovative interdisciplinary activities, public engagement events and networking opportunities.

All of that will be aimed at bringing together researchers from all disciplines, along with members of the public, NGOs and policy makers to foster new collaborations and develop cutting-edge knowledge.

Dr Manzella’s nomination is recognition of her expertise in multiple and complex hazards, geoengineering and resilience. She is currently working on several projects on these topics including two funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

The first - Tsunamigenic mass flows at Stromboli Volcano - is focused on the island of Stromboli, off the coast of Italy, and aims to assess how landslides and mass flows caused by eruptions can trigger potentially devastating tsunamis.

She is also the Plymouth lead on SENSUM, a £1.2million project which aims to develop new monitoring technologies that will reduce risks related to landslides and floods. She said:

Dr Irene Manzella

Dr Irene Manzella

“Climate change, pandemics and demographic growth are acting in the direction of an increase of vulnerability, risk and number of catastrophic events across the globe. The systemic aspect of these complex hazards has clearly demonstrated the need for a truly interdisciplinary and participatory approach in geoengineering practice to increase resilience and mitigate risk.

"The new theme of the Geological Society embraces this approach and I am really looking forward to work with my colleagues to tackle these pressing issues. I am also committed in my new role to promote, enhance and support equality, diversity and inclusion within the Society.”


Read more about Dr Manzella and her work

In her new role with the Geological Society, Dr Manzella will be working alongside theme leader Dr Anna Hicks, from the British Geological Survey, and another deputy theme leader Dr Aggie Georgiopoulou, from the University of Brighton.

Dr Hicks, Disaster Risk Reduction Geoscientist at the British Geological Survey, said:

“It is increasingly urgent that we develop joined up responses to address problems such as disaster risk. I am keen to develop this theme to explore and advance the many ways that geoscientists can work with others to reduce risk to hazards. Geoscientists could be good practice leaders when it comes to working with at-risk populations, and we can definitely co-develop solutions to intractable problems, we just need to take a broader and deeper view of them.”


Read more about the Geological Society's new strategic science themes

Dr Georgiopoulou, Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton with a focus on marine processes and hazards, added:

“As the needs of society are adjusting in a world of environmental change, so are we, as geoscientists, evolving to meet them. However, in order to become more resilient to the increasing threat of natural hazards, such as landslides, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, we need to work collaboratively, across disciplines and sectors and I am very excited to be part of this new and visionary endeavour led by the Geological Society.”
This is one of five new strategic science themes that the Society will support in the coming years, culminate with its Year of Sustainability in 2022. The Society’s Secretary for Science, Dr Alex Whittaker, said:
“These scientific themes are a great opportunity for the Society to engage with major global challenges, to advance the contribution of geosciences, and to work collaboratively towards creative and innovative solutions that inspire and engage current and future geoscientists.”

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