“Geology was a major contributor to the fortune of Rome, which had more resources and reduced risks relative to Naples”, the pair wrote. “Rome could also safely expand toward the Alban Hills area because of the plateau geomorphology, which further provided an easy path for the construction of the aqueducts. The city could also develop agricultural practices that, until Republican times, ensured its self-sustenance.”
As time passed, however, rapid urban expansion and population growth led to the over-exploitation of resources. Both cities became unstable and disasters occurred as a result of natural processes, such as flooding and earthquakes.
“…many past examples have shown how the indiscriminate use of technology in response to a natural hazard–induced risk, instead of generating security, can lead to higher risk and danger,” the article explains.
Häuber and de Rita’s work offers a stark warning for modern cities. Expansion must be managed carefully, allowing for urban growth without out-stripping resources. If we do not heed these warnings, we risk our cities being increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters.