This PhD Programme (PP) aims to analyse the main risks associated to several natural hazards which are more common or of greater importance.
- Conduct hazard assessment. Hazard is associated to the likelihood of occurrence of phenomena of given characteristics, region and time period;
- Perform vulnerability analysis of the several infrastructures, including the interdependence effects, this is, the damage or disruption of an infrastructure due to the disruption of another; multi-hazard and multi-risks are at stake;
- Propose and prioritize solutions and techniques for the strengthening and rehabilitation of infrastructures to reduce their vulnerability, prior and/or after the occurrence of a damaging event;
- Contribute to define prevention and preparedness policies and measures aiming at the enhancement of socio-economic resilience.
Risks: Earthquake Engineering (Earthquakes and Tsunamis); Hydrological Engineering (Hydrological, including Floods, Coastal Environment and Maritime Structures); Infrastructures and Geotechnics (Geotechnical, Collapse of large infrastructures, i.e. dams, Operation of transportation systems).
Infrastructures: Housing and office building stocks, built cultural heritage (monuments and buildings of high cultural value), industrial facilities, lifelines such as power, telecommunications, transportation, water, sewage and gas networks, as well as critical facilities, such as hospitals, schools, government buildings, etc..
The PP should include issues which are common to all risks such as the theoretical basis of risk and decision analysis, the economic impact of losses, the legal, social and political responsibilities involved and the risk management of infrastructures. Special attention will be given to either more probable as well as extreme events of very large consequences. In all cases, the modern technologies for “health monitoring” of large structures and their rehabilitation should be addressed.
In Portugal, earthquakes are the phenomena with the largest human and economic impact. Even though the larger are rare events, the scale of the devastation they can induce is so spread to cause decades of economic stagnation. Recently, several organizations have recognized the urgent need for consideration of seismic hazards and risks, emphasizing the importance of this PP.
Catastrophic tsunamis have affected the Portuguese coast numerous times over the past two millennia. Portugal should address this topic contributing to the mitigation of the consequences of this extremely important risk through countermeasures and enhancement of tsunami research.
Hydrological (including Floods)
Natural and hydraulic structures related floods are severe threats to life and property. The aging of dams and the increase in human occupation of river areas, combined with climate change effects on sea level rise and alterations in large precipitation events, induce more frequent high-impact inundation events in the future.
Risk management and related issues are extremely important in ground engineering where there is growing awareness that most decisions are made under uncertainty and therefore rational approaches are required. Liquefaction, embankments, slopes and other topics are to be studied.
Coastal environment and maritime structures
Several coastal zones are facing shoreline retreat problems, losing territory due to energetic sea actions, negative sediment transport balances and climate changes phenomena’s. The vulnerability and risk of coastal erosion are caused by a complex interaction of several natural and man-made coastal processes. Efficient tools are necessary to help decision-makers.
Collapse of large infrastructures (for instance dams)
The flooding that arises from the rupture of dams and dikes can cause loss of human lives, the destruction of property and permanent damage in the fluvial ecosystem. The consequences of the rupture of protection flooding dikes can be even more catastrophic. The study of the failure modes and the evaluation of the consequences of those failures are therefore essential.
Operation of transportation systems
High-Speed Rail system’s operation is a complex subject where transport infrastructures are critical. The design and safety/performance assessment of these facilities should include an understanding of the various dimensions of the problem, where technical and natural hazards must be considered, in both assessment and management perspectives.