RAC Meeting 2009

Minutes of ANSS Pacific Northwest Regional Advisory Committee

7 May 2009 (convened at the University of Washington Seismology Lab)
Minutes prepared by Andrew Delorey

Bill Steele called the meeting to order at 10:15am pst, greeted the crowd and had members introduce themselves

John Vidale reviewed the timing of Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) meetings, and the once-a-year spring meeting was considered amenable.

Vicki McConnell suggested it might be prudent to have additional meetings on a tighter schedule for matters of the stimulus and siting.

John Vidale reviewed the 'Big Picture'
1. The PNSN has evolved to a current state of obsession with upgrading software and hardware, and is likely to reside there for a year or two.
2. The State has cut its portion of the PNSN budget by 9%, like many of UW's budgets.
3. The Federal, NOAA, and Hanford budgets are stable for now.
4. The PNSN is likely to benefit from ARRA funds in four ways, detailed below.
5. Art Frankel is scheduled to arrive in Seattle in September.
6. ESS is shifting to the College of the Environment, minimal impact expected.
7. New Molecular Engineering Building planned next door, minimal impact expected.

Craig Weaver revealed an effort to produce deliberated suites of ShakeMaps for both Washington and Oregon. The Washington effort has already had several meetings and has been utilized in development of products and exercises including the CREW Crustal Earthquake Scenario to be in development. The Oregon effort is just being fired up.

CB Crouse endorsed such efforts.

Art Frankel mentioned that he is extending his Seattle modeling to 2 second period shaking in addition to 1 second. Computer modeling for development of a Portland Seismic Hazard Maps is next.

John Schelling reviewed a wide range of EMD activities and distributed a handout with many details. He particularly emphasized successful tests of the AHAB sirens, the reformation of the Seismic Safety Committee (SSC), and the SSC's nascent Resilient State effort, modeled on SF's Resilient City documents.

Eric Holdeman referred to the UK's Resilient Nation as another good template, saying he might post in on his blog www.disaster-zone.com.

Tim Walsh spoke about the state of DNR Divison of Geology and Earth Resources (DGER). They will suffer a 58% budget cut starting July 1st, a relief compared to the 67% cut originally planned. Soft money will mitigate some of the short-term impact. Three geologists and three support staff will be laid off.

Ray Cakir talked of ANSS site characterizations and HAZUS efforts.

Bill Steele mentioned potential usefulness of various State telemetry resources for carrying PNSN data if the State Dept of Information Services would allow us access.

Tim Walsh went on to describe the new strong motion station installed on the capitol campus in Olympia in a collaborative effort between DGER, the PNSN, and USGS NSMP. Tim has begun trenching across a new fault scarp found near Price Lake in Mason County.

Vicki McConnel reviewed the state of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI). The department will suffer a 15-20% budget cut resulting in the closing of most field offices. DOGAMI participated in geologic mapping of the area above the Maupin swarm but found no surface evidence of faulting. She bemoaned lack of tractable paleo-trench sites in Oregon but DOGAMI keeps hunting for candidates. LIDAR mapping is major new thrust in support of numerous research efforts and the new data may help identify subtle surface deformation from faulting. DOGAMI participated in the April 24th Cascade Peril (recovery not response) drill and the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) is being reinvigorated. Vidale and Bodin again said they were eager to meet with various Oregon agencies and commissions working to mange earthquake risk. Vicki will suggest OSSPAC invite the PNSN to present at a future meeting.

Joan Gomberg asked whether we should make communications more structured in the case of potentially foreboding events. This arose because CEPEC (California Earthquake Prediction Advisory Council) members expressed concern that events in PNSN's purview (Washington and Oregon) may warrant California action. Joan suggested we might wish to develop a plan for communications with the wider seismological community and then regional stakeholders (EMD, DOGAMI etc.) when predictions or events that may have an impact on seismic hazard occur, ideally before discussing hypotheses with the media. Joan may circulate a questionnaire to poll whether action is desirable.

Paul Bodin provided a detailed update of PNSN activities and accomplishments of the past year. He discussed the design and building of the new discriminator rack, seismic stations and improved IT infrastructure. Swarms under Maupin and Hanford are on going and the PNSN portable broadband array helped constrain the source area of the Maupin quakes.

Andrew Delorey has developed a new Seattle basin structure model and has been making measurements of the viaduct shaking. January 30 Md 4.5 Kingston earthquake processing hiccup the failure of an alerting script on a slow news day, brought a media spotlight on our failure to generate alert pages and emails immediately following the quake. (John Schelling kindly expressed admiration at our performance despite hiccup). Other topics Paul addressed included the PNSN approach to the development of aftershock forecasting, ETS (episodic tremor and slip) redux, PNSN resilience, and the new CHEETAH earthquake processing software and hardware.

ShakeCast was discussed as a potentially powerful tool, and one that can be souped up with judicious additions of NetQuakes instruments. $4K each, bolt down, plug (Ethernet or wifi) and play (although so far network connections have not been trivial). 2 instruments here at PNSN, 20 sensors en route, 20 more probably scheduled for next year.

The RAC Siting Subcommittee now has work cut out for it, will meet soon chaired by Bill Perkins and Susan Chang. John Vidale and Paul Bodin presented the dilemma attending NetQuakes rollout at this early stage (try out all promising uses to build enthusiasm for practical deployment strategies vs. keep instruments close in with limited range of installations to ease initial debugging). Big issues are downstream cost and reliability, which we will not know until we gain some experience. Additional units might be bought and perhaps maintained by large organizations that might want a greater fleet of sensors than we can pay for with ANSS funding. Netquakes/ShakeCast should be a powerful combination.

John Vidale discussed use of stimulus funding in the PNW in the last 20 minutes. Preliminary stage of planning precludes delineation of finer details here. Nationally, USGS has allocated $30M to seismic network improvement, $5M to geodetic improvement for earthquake monitoring. Projects cannot result in additional long term maintenance and operations costs. The USGS has set aside $20M for volcano monitoring. 5-15% of these funds may be available to the PNSN, CWU, and CVO for improvements in regional monitoring. There is talk of NSF launching an initial stage of a transportable onshore/offshore, seismic/geodetic margins experiment in Cascadia that could bring additional resources to the region.

Closing Discussion

Steve Palmer asked, are you ensuring that these numerous upgrades, both under way and potential are moving us towards where we want to be in 5-10 years? PNSN honchos waffled about multiple goals and uncertainty in planning, but asserted all changes are going in a good direction.

Steve Palmer raised the theme of more engagement of the RAC during the year. asAnnual Report required by the USGS to the RAC, as well. All agreed this is sensible. With more information flowing to the committee the RAC could spend less time getting updates and more time discussing and advising.

Eric Holdeman recommended that we prepare initiatives and "shovel-ready" projects, and then expose legislators to them. The Legislature could then more easily enact enabling legislation in response to geophysical events in the PNW and elsewhere that push seismic risk reduction up in priority. He also mentioned that Port security grants may be available, and would try to send details to Bill Steele.

CB Crouse requested a room next year with better ability to view our dark and illegible slides, all nodded.

Meeting Adjourned at 2:20pm

List of AC attendees
Tamra Biasco, FEMA
Ray Cakir, WA DNR
Susan Chang, City of Seattle DPD
Harvey Coffman, WSDOT
CB Crouse, URS
Eric Holdeman, Port of Tacoma
Vicki McConnell, DOGAMI
Steve Palmer, GeoDesign, Inc.
John Schelling, WA EMD
Richard Schroeldel, Pierce County DEM
Timothy Walsh, WA DNR

PNSN, USGS attendees
Craig Weaver
John Vidale
Paul Bodin
Bill Steele
Andy Delorey
Art Frankel - by phone

AC members who could not participate John Hooper
Leon Kempner
Dave Norman
Bill Perkins
TJ McDonald
Anne Trehu
Tim Melbourne