Granada and its metropolitan area lie on the eastern edge of a basin where the foothills rise into the adjacent Sierra Nevada (3,482 m). On the west the valley is bordered by several faulted, Quaternary-age alluvial fans and by dissected terraces of the Genil River. Landscape evolution from about Tortonian to Pleistocene time is reflected by relict Quaternary glaciers preserved on a deeply eroded lower Paleozoic terrain and by terrace remnants and channels resulting from rapid Late Pleistocene and Holocene fluvial incision. This particular geological, geomorphic, and active tectonic setting, combined with a Mediterranean climate under continental influence, and the rapid urban development in the last 60 years have increased exposure to several natural hazards. Urban expansion has increased flash-flood and mass-wasting vulnerability, and seismic risk is similarly increasing with the 1884 Andalusian Earthquake (M 6.3), reflecting the last of several large, ∼500-year recurrence temblors that have affected the area since at least Roman times. Modern Granada and its metropolitan area, with about a half million inhabitants, are currently increasingly challenged by the highest levels of exposure to natural hazards, by strain on traditional society resulting from adapting to the changes produced by the three decades since the advent of democracy (1978) and by the consequences of the deep economic crisis.

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