Introduction and Overview
Earthquakes have been an integral component of the geologic evolution of planet earth. Since the dawn of history, mankind has been continually reminded of their ruinous power, usually without warning. Although the first attempt to fully document a seismic event and its effects probably occurred in 1755 following the great earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal, scientific earthquake research is mainly a product of the 20th century. Because of the complex nature of earthquake effects, investigations encompass many disciplines, including those of both the physical and social sciences. Research activities center on such diversified topics as earthquake mechanics, earthquake prediction and control, the prompt and accurate detection of tsunamis, earthquake-resistant construction, seismic building code improvements, land use zoning, earthquake risk and hazard perception, disaster preparedness, plus the study of the concerns and fears of people who have experienced the effects of an earthquake. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.