Proceedings of the International Conference: GEORISKS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND THEIR MITIGATION
Proceedings of the International Conference: GEORISKS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND THEIR MITIGATION
ISBN: 978-88-98161-20-1
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Abstract:

This conference is one of the activities organised within the SIMIT strategic project (Integrated Cross-Border Italo-Maltese System of Civil Protection), Italia-Malta Operational Programme 2007 2013. SIMIT aims to establish a system of collaboration in Civil Protection procedures and data management between Sicilian and Maltese partners, so as to guarantee the safety and protection of the citizens and infrastructure of the cross-border area. It is led by the Department of Civil Protection of the Sicilian region, and has as other partners the Department of Civil Protection of Malta and the Universities of Palermo, Catania and Malta. SIMIT was launched in March 2013, and will come to a close in October 2015. Ever since the initial formulation of the project, it has been recognised that a state of national preparedness and correct strategies in the face of natural hazards cannot be truly effective without a sound scientific knowledge of the hazards and related risks. The University of Malta, together with colleagues from other Universities in the project, has been contributing mostly to the gathering and application of scientific knowledge, both in earthquake hazard as well as in building vulnerability. The issue of seismic hazard in the cross-border region has been identified as deserving foremost importance. South-East Sicily in particular has suffered on more than one occasion the effects of large devastating earthquakes. Malta, although fortunately more removed from the sources of such large earthquakes, has not been completely spared of their damaging effects. The drastic increase in the building density over recent decades has raised the level of awareness and concern of citizens and authorities about our vulnerability. These considerations have spurred scientists from the cross-border region to work together towards a deeper understanding of the underlying causes and nature of seismic and associated hazards, such as landslide and tsunami. The SIMIT project has provided us with the means of improving earthquake surveillance and analysis in the Sicily Channel and further afield in the Mediterranean, as well as with facilities to study the behaviour of our rocks and buildings during earthquake shaking. The role of the civil engineering community in this endeavour cannot be overstated, and this is reflected in the incorporation, from the beginning, of the civil engineering component in the SIMIT project. Constructing safer buildings is now accepted to be the major option towards human loss mitigation during strong earthquakes, and this project has provided us with a welcome opportunity for interaction between the two disciplines. Finally the role of the Civil Protection authorities must occupy a central position, as we recognize the importance of their prevention, coordination and intervention efforts, aided by the input of the scientific community.