Earthquakes And Tsunamis In The Pacific Northwest

Thursday, October 11, 2007

2325 Rayburn House Office Building

3:00 - 4:00 pm

The Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 that killed more than 200,000 people and devastated several countries was a reminder of the power of earthquakes and tsunamis. The Pacific Northwest is vulnerable to both and this briefing will discuss our understanding of these events, efforts to plan and prepare for the worst case scenario and efforts to mitigate the impact of such events on people and the built environment.

The briefing will highlight the U.S. Geological Survey's efforts to understand and detect earthquakes, and estimate their probability of occurrence and their probability of producing a tsunami. There will also be a discussion of the Seattle fault earthquake scenario and the Sound Shake '08, a functional catastrophic tri-county earthquake exercise to be conducted on March 5, 2008.

The briefing will also highlight the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's efforts to maintain and enhance the Alaska and West coast tsunami warning system as well as information about NOAA's new approach to warning announcements. There will then be a discussion about lessons learned from the destructive waves that caused over $10 million in damage at Crescent City, California, the value of the Tsunami Warning & Education Act of 2006 and needs for further integration of science, planning, education and warning.


William Ellsworth, President of the Seismological Society of America


Craig Weaver, Western Region, Earthquake Hazards Team, U.S. Geological Survey
Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest - Understanding the Hazards

Mark Stewart, Hazards Mitigation Strategist, Washington State Emergency Management
The Seattle Fault Earthquake Scenario and Preparing for Such Events

Paul Whitmore, Director of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, NOAA
Tsunami Warning Systems and Disseminating the Message

Lori Dengler, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California
Lessons Learned from Crescent City: Tsunami Mitigation and the Role of Education

William L. Ellsworth is a senior research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA. Over the course of a 35 year career with the USGS, he has conducted research on fundamental problems in seismicity, seismotectonics, probabilistic earthquake forecasting, earthquake source processes and earth structure, while providing leadership and direction in areas of critical importance to the USGS Earthquake and Volcano Hazards Programs. He received his bachelors degree in Physics and masters in Geophysics from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. in Geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is a Consulting Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University.

Mark Stewart has 13 years' experience in emergency management with the State of Washington, serving since February 2007 as the State Hazard Mitigation Programs Manager and the State Hazard Mitigation Officer. He is responsible for implementing FEMA-funded hazard mitigation grant programs, helping local jurisdictions develop mitigation plans and project applications, and providing technical assistance to a variety of state and local organizations on various mitigation issues.

Paul Whitmore is Director of the NOAA/West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. He has held this position since 2002 and has worked at the center since 1986. Prior to this he worked in geophysical exploration for a major oil company. While at the Warning Center, his projects have included automation of seismic data processing, earthquake magnitude studies, geographical information system development, and improving tsunami warning products and graphics. He has worked closely with researchers at the University of Alaska to develop a scheme to forecast tsunami wave heights presently used at the U.S. tsunami warning centers. Paul is chair-person of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program's Warning Guidance Subcommittee.

Lori Dengler is Professor and Chair of the Geology Department at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California and an expert on tsunami hazards and tsunami mitigation. She was a member of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) Steering Committee from 1996 to 2003 and authored the Strategic Implementation for Mitigation Projects for the NTHMP. Dr. Dengler was the first recipient of NOAA's Richard Hagemeyer Tsunami Mitigation Award (2001) for her leadership and involvement in the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, community education activities in Del Norte and Humboldt counties, California, the NTHMP, and other activities promoting and supporting tsunami mitigation. She was a member of post tsunami survey teams to Papua New Guinea (1998), Southern Peru (2001), and Indonesia (2005), and most recently studied the impacts of the November 15, 2006 Kuril Islands tsunami on Crescent City, California. She recently completed a study of the tsunami hazards of San Francisco Bay and is working on a monograph on the 1964 tsunami in Crescent City, California.

The briefing was sponsored by the following members of the Hazards Caucus Alliance: 

Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
Seismological Society of America