Fire keen keep a person warm, allows them to cook freshly killed meat, and provides light and comfort. At the same time, fire is one of the most destructive forces on the planet, destroying millions of acres of forest every year and leaving thousands homeless. It can rapidly spread at an alarming rate as it engulfs fuel along the way, feeding itself and growing exponentially.
The surreal dust storms experienced by the inhabitants of the Southwest resemble images seen in apocalyptic movies. With walls of rolling dust rising as high as 10,000 feet, these surreal dust storms are real and hit the region several times every year, rerouting aircraft and turning daylight to dusk.
Large, powerful earthquakes with the potential to kill and injure people and destroy or damage property occur periodically in many areas of the United States and the world.
The schoolroom view of volcanoes depicted entire cities inundated by white-hot lava, then buried under tons of ash, in times long ago and far away: Pompeii, the island of Crete, and the lost city of Atlantis, all were destroyed in the mists of antiquity. Many people believe volcanic activity in recent times has been confined to the Hawaiian Islands, where physical evidence of volcanism serves as a tourist attraction. This is only part of the picture.
Landslides have always posed a hazard to humans and property. Appropriately, the technical term for landslides and related phenomena is “mass wasting:’ To a large degree the cause of mass wasting is gravity, the attraction of smaller particles to a larger, denser, lower mass. Landslides are possible when the particles that make up the land lose the cohesiveness that has held them in place.