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JCA Media jcamedia at starclass.com.au
Sun Aug 15 08:39:14 EST 2004


August 15, 2004


Australians love their beaches because of the fun and relaxation they offer. However, already this year two people have died from beach landslides. 

One of the deaths was of a tourist who fell to his death at Bangalley Point, north of Sydney, when the rock ledge he was standing on collapsed. The other was of a 15-year-old boy who was digging a tunnel in sand that collapsed and suffocated him, at Ocean Grove Victoria.

Researcher Dr Marion Leiba, of Geoscience Australia, is passionate about informing the public of the potentially fatal hazards that lurk in these playgrounds.  

She will give two talks entitled 'Landslides and Shore Safety" at the Geoscience Australia open day on August 22, during National Science Week, at 1.00 pm and 3.30 pm. 

Males digging tunnels or deep holes in sand accounts for three of the five deaths and five of the seven injuries caused by landslides at Australian beaches since January 2000.

"You can have plenty of fun digging around in sand, without digging [yourself] a grave," says Dr Leiba.

"The sad fact is that most, if not all, of these shore landslide deaths and injuries are preventable, if people could only be aware of the dangers of digging tunnels or deep holes in sand, displacing unstable boulders, standing on rock ledges and sheltering under cliffs and overhangs." 

Because we live in a flat continent, many people are unaware of the risk posed by landslides. In total, 13 people have been killed and 71 people injured by landslides across Australia since January 2000.

Dr Leiba has written a brochure entitled 'Shore Safety' that explains the different types of shoreline landslides, and the geological reasons behind them. The brochure will soon be available through the State Emergency Services, the Emergency Management Service and Geoscience Australia.

Dr Leiba updates Geoscience Australia's Australian landslide database, and is keen to hear from anyone who sees, reads or hears about a landslide.

"Throughout Australia, we have machines to record all earthquakes, even those too small to be felt by people but, unless someone sees a landslide, it isn't recorded."

"Any report of a landslide is important to improve the database, which can provide information for assessments of landslide risk throughout Australia," says Dr Leiba.

Her research into landslides and beach safety is among more than 160 stories about cutting edge Australian science that feature in National Science Week's list of top scientific research. To interview any of the scientists on the list: http://www.scienceweek.info.au/media

To learn about shore safety, and the Australian landslide database:

Dr Marion Leiba, 02 6231 9476, 0417 401 415
leiba at bigpond.net.au
marion_leiba at yahoo.com

To report landslides:
landslides at ga.gov.au

For information on National Science week, contact:
Telephone: 02 6205 0281
Mobile: 0407 781 891
Facsimile: 02 6207 0072
Email:	scienceweek at orac.net.au

For events in National Science Week 2004, please visit:

National Science Week is supported by the Commonwealth Government Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR).

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