2009 John Monash Scholar James Daniell, studying for a PhD at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute for Technologies, is already playing an important role in helping governments and agencies address natural disasters. James has developed analytic models for the economic impact of major disruptive events, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. With Australia subject to a number of damaging natural events over recent months – Queensland and Victorian floods, Cyclone Yasi, and Western Australian bushfires – estimates of damage, and analysis of the relief and recovery resourcing requirements are becoming critical.
James has released two major summaries over the last six weeks. In December his "First Annual CATDAT Damaging Earthquakes Review – 2010 report" summarized the socio-economic impact of the 90 damaging earthquakes across the globe in 2010, including the devastating Haiti earthquake, and the Chilean earthquake which caused around US$30 billion in damage. James' analysis indicates that between 100,000 and 200,000 people were killed directly in these earthquakes; another three million were made homeless; and economic losses were between US$50 and US$70 billion. James' earthquake report has been cited by a large number of sources, including the US Geological Survey and the leading earthquake monitoring websites.
Last week James released the "First Annual CATDAT Damaging Volcanoes Database – 2010 report" which summarized the socio-economic impact of the over 64 damaging volcanic eruptions around the world in 2010. The most notable was Eyjafjalla in Iceland, causing widespread disruption to air travel and over US$5 billion in economic loss across the globe. The Merapi volcanic eruption in October and November in Java caused nearly US$1 billion in damages. Total losses for the year were between US$3 billion and $7 billion. James' analysis indicates that between 300 and 400 people were killed directly in these volcanoes; another 11,000 were made homeless; and nearly 400,000 evacuated during the disruptions.
James, together with Belgian earthquake expert Armand Vervaeck, is one of the most cited analysts of natural disaster losses. His work is especially important in developing countries such as Pakistan – struck by a major earthquake on January 31 – for governments and agencies attempting to marshall relief efforts, or for insurance groups in developed economies.