Exploring Earthquakes: Analyzing The Past To Protect Lives And Property Today

Tuesday, April 26, 2014
2325 Rayburn House Office Building
12:00 - 2:00 PM

Invitation Flyer

In March 1964, the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America struck Alaska, shaking Anchorage and an area larger than the state of California for more than 4 minutes and causing landslides and tsunamis that took lives in Alaska, Oregon, and California. In the 50 years since, earthquakes in the United States and worldwide have cost billions of dollars of economic loss in addition to countless lives. Advances in science and engineering have made people safer – but the job is not done. Come hear how the USGS and partners are working to protect lives and property across the country, and what more needs to be accomplished to build resilience for the future.


David Applegate, U.S. Geological Survey 
Peter Haeussler, U.S. Geological Survey 
Tom Jordan, Seismological Society of America 
John Schelling, Washington State Military Department's Emergency Management Division

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Speaker Biographies:

David Applegate is the Associate Director for Natural Hazards. In this position, he oversees the geologic hazards and coastal and marine programs of the USGS and coordinates the long-term planning and hazard response activities for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, geomagnetic storms, floods, severe storms, tsunamis, and wildfires. Applegate came to the USGS in 2004 as the first senior science advisor for earthquake and geologic hazards. Since 2006, he has chaired the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction, an interagency body providing guidance to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to joining the USGS, Dr. Applegate spent 8 years with the American Geological Institute, where he served as the director of government affairs. Applegate has also served with the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources as the American Geophysical Union's Congressional Science Fellow and as a professional staff member. Applegate has a B.S. in geology from Yale University and a Ph.D., also in geology, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Peter J. Haeussler is a Research Geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska, where he has lived and worked for the last 23 years. His current research focuses on understanding active tectonic processes in southern Alaska, with studies on the frequency of earthquakes, the location and rate-of-movement of active faults, and mountain building. Other research efforts relate to submarine landslides and their role in tsunami generation, as well as framework geology for energy and mineral resource assessments. He is author or co-author on more than 100 scientific publications.

As the Alaska Coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, Haeussler coordinates the Alaskan efforts of about 15 USGS research scientists and a similar number of academic scientists who receive funding through the Earthquake Hazards Program's competitive research grants, administered by the USGS. He has served on Anchorage’s Geotechnical Advisory Commission and Alaska’s State Geologic Mapping Advisory Board, and he is frequently asked to serve on National Science Foundation and other agency panels and committees related to earthquake hazards work in Alaska. He received a Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Thomas H. Jordan is a University Professor and the W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California. His current research is focused on system-level models of earthquake processes, earthquake forecasting, continental dynamics, and full-3D waveform tomography. He is an author of more than 200 scientific publications, including two popular textbooks (with J. Grotzinger) Understanding Earth, 6th ed. and The Essential Earth, 2nd ed.

As the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, Jordan coordinates an international research program in earthquake system science that involves over 600 scientists at more than 60 universities and research organizations. In 2006, he established the international Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability and, since 2006, has been the lead SCEC investigator on projects to create and improve a time-dependent, uniform California earthquake rupture forecast.

He is the current President of the Seismological Society of America, an international scientific society devoted to the advancement of seismology and the understanding of earthquakes for the benefit of society, and a member of the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council.

John D. Schelling is the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Volcano Programs Manager for the Washington State Military Department’s Emergency Management Division. He is responsible for coordinating the seismic and associated hazard risk reduction efforts between federal, state, tribal, and local partners with a goal of increasing community resilience. He staffs the Washington State Seismic Safety Committee, chairs the State/Local Tsunami Workgroup, and is currently serving as the National Emergency Management Association representative on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Advanced National Seismic System Steering Committee. His recent projects include the award-winning efforts to implement tsunami vertical evacuation strategies in vulnerable coastal communities through Project Safe Haven and developing a 50-year framework for minimizing earthquake losses and improving statewide recovery through the Resilient Washington State Initiative.

In addition to his emergency management expertise, Schelling has an extensive background in state and local government with an emphasis on policy analysis, land use planning, and implementation of smart growth management strategies. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of West Florida and Master’s Degree from the University of South Florida.