Dr. Gordon Woo is a catastrophist with the risk modelling agency, RMS, as well as an adjunct professor at the NTU Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management. He is a noted expert in many fields of disaster management. He is the author of the two books, ‘The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes’ and ‘Calculating Catastrophe’, both published by World Scientific Press in Singapore. The latter book has been translated into Italian by leading Italian geophysicists. Dr. Woo graduated as the best mathematician of his year at Cambridge University, completed his PhD in theoretical physics at MIT, and has been a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows.
The statistical foundation of disaster risk analysis is past experience. From a scientific perspective, history is just one realisation of what might have happened, given the randomness and chaotic dynamics of Nature. Stochastic analysis of the past is an exploratory exercise in counterfactual geological hazard assessment, considering alternative possible scenarios. In particular, the dynamic perturbations that might have transitioned a volcano from an unrest to an eruptive state need to be considered. The stochastic modelling of past volcanic crises can illuminate historical volcanic crisis evacuation and return decisions. It can also inform future infrastructure development and insurance management decisions in regions where there has been some volcanic unrest, but no actual eruption for at least hundreds of years.