Assessment of Cascading Failures and Collective Recovery of Interdependent Critical Infrastructure in Catastrophic Disasters: A Study of 2015 Nepal's Earthquake Grant

Assessment of Cascading Failures and Collective Recovery of Interdependent Critical Infrastructure in Catastrophic Disasters: A Study of 2015 Nepal's Earthquake .


  • The objective of this Rapid Response Research (RAPID) project is to collect time-bound data on the nature, impacts, and recovery process related to cascading infrastructure failures from the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal. Due to the growing frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, understanding of the relationship between interdependencies and cascading failures in infrastructure systems is critical for strategic investments to enhance community resilience. The outcomes of this research will include a database of cascading failures and associated attributes and variables in interdependent infrastructure systems, which can be utilized to inform planning and decision making processes. By studying the pre-disaster infrastructure interdependencies, post-disaster cascading failures, and restoration interdependencies, this study will help policymakers in the United States, Nepal, and other countries prone to disasters to establish methods and processes to integrate resilience into their infrastructure planning and strategic investment efforts. Despite emerging knowledge on resilient infrastructure systems, the number of empirical studies related to cascading failures and collective recovery of interdependent infrastructure is rather limited. This RAPID project addresses this gap in knowledge by collecting and analyzing data related to the power grid, transportation, water, sewage, and communication networks from the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal. The data to be collected will include primary and secondary infrastructure failures, failure modes, duration of service disruption, pre- and post-disaster conditions and performance, and post-disaster infrastructure restoration. These data will be collected through local infrastructure agencies and direct field observations. Geo-tagged photos and videos of infrastructure failures and damages will be used along with GIS information to capture and document the nature and the extent of cascading infrastructure failures across space and time. The other group of data to be collected is related to the decision making processes of infrastructure agencies for restoration and recovery of infrastructure systems. The primary method for collecting these data will include in-depth interviews with elected and appointed public officials at local and national levels involved in restoration and recovery efforts. Finally, a public survey will be conducted to collect data related to extent and duration of disruptions in infrastructure services in Kathmandu, Nepal. The collected data will be analyzed through the use of statistical and network analysis methods. In addition, a meta-network analysis will be conducted to answer the questions of who, what, why, how, and when to better understand restoration interdependency in infrastructure systems. The collected empirical data could be used as a foundation for verification and validation of the existing analytical models related to cascading infrastructure failures. Hence, the results will enable better understanding of the nature and impacts of cascading failures in interdependent infrastructure systems. In addition, this research will advance the understanding of the dynamics of restoration interdependency and provide insight into ways to influence the collective recovery of infrastructure systems in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster.

date/time interval

  • August 1, 2015 - July 31, 2016

sponsor award ID

  • 1546738