First Advisor

Jiunn-Der Duh

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography




Geographical information systems, Disasters -- Social aspects, Environmental health -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social aspects




In the past three decades, research in the geography of hazards and disasters has expanded beyond the response to hazard events and incorporated the concepts of preparedness, recovery, and mitigation. These issues require a complete understanding of the vulnerability of places to hazards, not only in regards to hazard characteristics but in regards to social and economic conditions as well. This paper offers a case study in hazard exposure and social vulnerability analysis which incorporates the methodology of two previous studies on the same topics. A geographic information system was used to determine vulnerable areas and populations exposed to five environmental hazards, assessed by five demographic indicators, within the Portland metropolitan area. The results portray broad spatial variations in exposure to different hazards, while they also suggest that several areas exhibit a combination of high levels of vulnerability and exposure to multiple hazards. Various factors in the interpretation of the results are discussed, including patterns of development, geographical units of analysis, differences in hazard probability and magnitude, and others. It is anticipated that the findings of this paper may be applicable to emergency planning and communication efforts within the region.


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A research paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Geography

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