Brian McAdoo, Ph.D.
Department of Earth Science and Geography, Vassar College
From Technical to Tents: Offshore Geohazard and Tsunami Risk Assessment
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.
Offshore geohazards rarely constitute a threat to human populations, but understanding the occurrence of submarine landslides informs us of potential hazards that lurk offshore, and yields critical insight into both earthquakes and tsunami.
In this talk, I outline what we know and don’t know about submarine landslides and tsunami, and how tsunamis affect communities on land. There are dramatic examples of tsunami triggered by landslides, including the 1929 Grand Banks event (Canada’s worst earthquake-related disaster) and the controversial 1998 Papua New Guinea tsunami. Landslides also inform us about earthquake tsunami by highlighting active zones on continental margins. Post-tsunami surveys in areas including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands demonstrate the need for an interdisciplinary approach to risk assessment and hazard mitigation. Inputs from scientists (geologists, ecologists, social) and engineers are critical in the early stages of a region’s post-tsunami recovery, and there is a clear need for an integrated approach to post-disaster reconstruction before policy changes are instituted.