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The last decade was particularly devastating in terms of major natural disasters. At the same time people become more aware of such disasters due to global media coverage and the widespread use of the Internet. Examples are the giant 2004 Sumatra-Andaman, the 2011 Tôhoku-Japan, and the Chile 2010 earthquakes and their associated tsunamis. We believe that it is of first order importance to keep the scientific literature up-to-date in relation to such events, in particular through the compilation of a specialized book that can also function as a teaching tool. This volume will thus provide the opportunity to compile a large variety of information related to such events as well as it will offer new studies and reviews on the general theme of plate boundaries and associated natural hazards.
Specific contributions on natural hazard are also expected to attract the attention of physicists, geographers, biologists, engineers and policy makers. This potential broad spectrum of audience will be achieved by incorporating different levels of complexity within the volume. Specifically, review papers on key subjects (e.g. subduction zones, giant earthquakes) will provide an overview of state-of-the-art concepts and research, historical perspectives and eventual sociality impacts, and also point to new lines of research and future challenges. This will turn the book into a potentially exciting tool for lecturing in universities and an indispensable working instrument for scientists working in the covered fields. The more focused case studies will provide new research findings in key areas that over the years have attracted the interest and attention of many Earth Scientists and the popular media (e.g. Sumatra, Japan, San Andreas Fault, the Alpine Fault in New Zealand, SW Iberia, among others). The book will also include some chapters on the potential risk of global natural hazards, prediction of natural disasters and mitigation of its impact. This volume will thus focus on some of the most fundamental problems of plate tectonics. At the same time that it will provide major insights on how plate boundaries function, it will also reveal how major earthquakes and tsunamis are generated and how they impact modern societies.