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1 May 2000 Geomorphological Hazards in High Mountain Areas
David Petley
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Geomorphological Hazards in High Mountain Areas , edited by Jan Kalvoda and Charles Rosenfeld. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1998. 314 pp. £95. ISBN 0-7923-4961-X.

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A volume examining geomorphological hazards in mountain areas would seem to be most timely, with the increased prominence given to the “Mountain Agenda” after the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and the ending of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. This volume was produced within the long-term research program of the International Geographical Union Commission “Natural Hazards Studies” and represents a “symposium by correspondence.” It consists of 16 papers examining natural hazards in mountain chains, with some emphasis on high mountain areas. The authors come from an impressive number of countries, including Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The main topics covered are slope movements, glacial hazards, and floods in a range of mountain environments, including the Andes, the Himalayas, the Rockies, and the High Tatras. However, at least one paper appears somewhat out of place in this volume, covering salt weathering in desert environments. While there is no doubt that salt weathering can be a significant geomorphological hazard in desert environments, there is little reference in this paper to mountain areas beyond a single paragraph in the introduction. Indeed, much of the paper concentrates on data collected from the deserts of Bahrain, Dubai, and Egypt, and the conclusions seem to be more closely related to lowland areas. Thus, the inclusion of this paper seems to be anomalous and out of step with the aims of the volume.

The other papers present a range of approaches, from a sedimentological examination of glacial-lake outburst deposits to an essentially descriptive, but very interesting, review of geomorphological hazards in the High Tatra Mountains. Some of the papers represent quite significant contributions, including an examination of chaos theory for slides and mudflows and a review of Late Holocene sturtzstroms in Montana.

Overall, the book represents a timely and interesting contribution to an important subject. The majority of the papers are relevant and topical, and the inclusion of well-reproduced photographs in addition to the generally clear maps greatly assists the reader. The editors have been careful to ensure that the volume is more than just a set of case studies, with many of the papers including theoretical work and all of them outlining the wider implications of the research. It is unfortunate that some of the chapters are a little peripheral to the main subject. However, in general, the book stands as an excellent tribute to Professor Clifford Embleton, the founder of the IGU's Commission on Natural Hazards Studies, to whom it is dedicated.

David Petley "Geomorphological Hazards in High Mountain Areas," Mountain Research and Development 20(2), 203-204, (1 May 2000).[0203:GHIHMA]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 May 2000

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