Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the study of earthquakes. A massive earthquake in 1755 devastated Lisbon, and this disaster helped inspire a new science of seismology which intensified after San Francisco in 1906 and advanced even further with the need to monitor nuclear tests around the world from 1945 onwards. While we now know so much more about what lies beneath the surface of the Earth, and how rocks move and crack, it remains impossible to predict when earthquakes will happen. Thanks to seismology, though, we have a clearer idea of where earthquakes will happen and how to make some of them less hazardous to lives and homes.

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  • Rebecca Bell No other episodes
    Senior lecturer in Geology and Geophysics at Imperial College London
  • Zoe Mildon No other episodes
    Lecturer in Earth Sciences and Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Plymouth
  • James Hammond No other episodes
    Reader in Geophysics at Birkbeck, University of London

Reading list

  • The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter
    Deborah R. Coen (University of Chicago Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Solid Earth: An Introduction to Global Geophysics
    C.M.R. Fowler (Cambridge University Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • The Great Quake Debate: The Crusader, the Skeptic, and the Rise of Modern Seismology
    Susan Hough (University of Washington Press, 2020) Google Books →
  • International Handbook of Earthquake & Engineering Seismology
    William H.K. Lee and others (eds.) (Academic Press, 2002) Google Books →
  • Earth: Portrait of a Planet
    Stephen Marshak (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m00154gh

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Auto-category: 550 (Earth sciences & geology)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. On the 1st of November, 1755, a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Lisbon and its people, making it one of the deadliest in history.