2015 RAC minutes

PNSN Advisory Committee Meeting

June 2, 2015

University of Washington Club


CB called meeting to order about 9:40, after self-introductions.  

The agenda was agreed upon.

CB briefly reviewed some action items.

1. CB had requested regular updates on M9 project, on Hanford and eastern Washington developments, and indeed to receive quarterly update on all pertinent issues.  This was done last year.

2. Tim Walsh had spoken for research, education, and outreach regarding how to use EEW alerts.  Some of this work is underway nationally but more could be done in region.


Paul Bodin: State of the PNSN

Reviewed changes in PNSN management structure and relationships with partner agencies with this organization diagram.


PNSN Organization Chart:



The USGS Volcano Hazards Program (VHP) and Earthquake Hazards Program  (EHP) now require completely separate proposals for funding and greater specificity on how funds are allocated.  Together they represent ~38% of PNSN funding excluding the substantial direct contributions made by the USGS Seattle Field Station Staff, who are co-located with the PNSN at UW.  The EEW-Moore Foundation will end next year or so.

The pie chart shows the distribution of funding sources (but does not including USGS coop with UO and direct funding of USGS Seattle operations).  Paul foresees 2 years of stable funding.


PNSN FY 2015 Income Distribution


  • New Oregon Stations bought from the NSF-funded Cascadia Initiative:  Doug Toomey stewarded an initiative through the Oregon State Legislature to fund the acquisition of 15 Cascadia Initiative Broadband Seismic stations that were slated to be pulled from the region next year.  
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF) funded 24 new low-latency, strong motion stations for installation in the region in 2015.  Ten of these are installed and sending data to the UW.  The rest are in planning or awaiting installation. 
  • Three new real-time strong motion stations were installed on or near the Hanford reservation.  In 2011 when the PNSN took over EW monitoring we, started with five locally recorded strong motion stations with dead batteries and full data cards.  We now operate 13 telemetered strong motion stations.
  • UNAVCO/PBO is set to lose funding in 2018.  Future of the GPS network is uncertain.
  • The PNSN is planning to explore the use of low-cost lower-resolution "Class C" sensors strong motion sensors in Cascadia to supplement the observatory grade sensors.


Craig Weaver, USGS Seattle Field Station:

The USGS supports one seismologist and two field engineers as part of the PNSN field operations.  Weaver highlighted recent USGS accomplishments in earthquake hazard studies in the Pacific Northwest.  Recent USGS activities include:

  • Seismologist Joan Gomberg has worked to organize USGS subduction zone studies group to exploring a better coordination of existing scientific studies in American subduction zones and to develop a science plan for future work.  She also organized the CSZ Observatory seminar series at UW this year to highlight USGS and other contributions to understanding Cascadia and subduction zone processes and hazards impacts.  USGS subduction zone studies are currently limited by the lack of offshore seismic and geodetic data and lack the resources to fully explore the Cascadia chronology that has been based on offshore turbidite deposits.
  • Brian Sherrod continues to make progress on paleoseismic studies in eastern Washington.  Trenching studies at Spencer Canyon trench near Entiat show a large crustal earthquake that is almost certainly the 1872 event.  Using aeromagnetic, lidar, and regional geologic mapping, Sherrod extends the likely fault trace across the Columbia River before it striking parallel to the river for about 30 km.  There are two clear events in the trench and possibly several more.  At a second location just south of Kennewick, trenching at the Finley quarry shows multiple events on the Wallula fault.  Combined with aeromagnetic interpretations to the south, there is evidence of lateral motion on the fault.
  • Art Frankel is working with UW graduate students to construct accurate 3-D structural models of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and to develop a suite of rupture scenarios for the development of new, probabilistic ground motion maps for Cascadia earthquakes.  Ground motion modeling will factor in the influence rupture mechanics, directivity, deep geologic structure (sedimentary basins) and surficial soils.
  • The USGS completed a major lidar survey in Spokane in an effort to determine if the newly found Spokane fault has evidence of Holocene surface deformation. Preliminary analysis of the high-resolution aeromagnetic data, combined with a seismic survey and an interpretation of InSAR data, shows that all data sets allow for a consistent interpretation of the general location of the Spokane fault at shallow depths.
  • New and expected data in southwest Washington will allow new efforts to identify crustal faults.  The USGS is contracting for a high-resolution aeromagnetic survey over the Doty Hills fault.  The survey is expected to be flown in October 2015 and will include the Saint Helens seismic zone as well.  In addition, a lidar survey was completed in the Wind River in early 2015, which may help identify the location of the Saint Helens zone between Swift Reservoir and the Columbia River.
  • The USGS published a geologic study of the Darrington-Devils Mountain fault zone.  The Ozo landslide occurred within the fault zone, but analysis of lidar data in the North Fork Stillaguamish River valley suggests there is no special association between the landslide and the fault.  There is also extensive landsliding along much of the valley away from where the fault crosses the valley.


John Vidale: PNW Earthquake Early Warning Developments

"ShakeAlert”:  Societal application of scientific data; connecting monitoring and warning networks.



Showed our standard EQ processing time line vs. EEW demands (roughly an order of magnitude compression of the time line).  John reviewed the performance of ShakeAlert noting that despite some unexpected problems (now solved), the M6 South Napa Earthquake triggered useful alerts for SF and the Bay Area.  He noted most injuries and losses are due to non-structural hazards and even brief alerts can make a large impact in reducing these.

Still there are inadequacies of current shake alert display.  Some feel map diverts attention and lengthens response time needed for people to take protective actions.  Audible countdown needs to be clearer and contain useful messaging when time is available.

John reviewed our efforts to incorporate geodetic data into our PNW EEW system later this year.  The Japanese warning system did not provide accurate estimates of shaking for the Tokyo region because it depended upon a point source origin for seismic energy rather than distribution of the energy release along a finite fault plane that can be constrained using real time GPS data.

Early testing of the PNW ShakeAlert software has shown generally good results with some problems due to inadequate station coverage.  The M7.8, 678 Km deep earthquake generated seismic waves that tricked the PNSN and California automatic EEW systems into sending out false alerts.  The mistakes were quickly identified by duty seismologists and corrected.



Yohei Nishimura, The Associated Press

Large Screen earthquake alert warns Japanese soccer fans of incoming seismic waves from M7.8 earthquake.

John also discussed how BART trains use CISN EEW Alerts to slow and stop trains to prevent derailments.  A comment was made that BNSF trains will be carrying more volatile crude oil and other dangerous substances and asked if they are participating in the pilot test.  They are not at this time.

John ended with a description of the political work underway to build bi-partisan support on the hill for EEW and reviewed some outstanding issues that need more work in the coming year.


Advisory Committee discussion: EEW challenges, what happens after the alert is issued?  Bill Steele moderator

  • Art asked about single station P-wave warning systems.
  • Lind Gee – USGS/CISN has a goal to issue "limited warnings" in CA in about a year.
  • ATWC, PTWC tsunami warning centers needs to be better integrated into the EEW program. Craig: Most likely M7 is offshore Mendocino. How are we interfaced with Palmer AK? Vidale: It has been a challenge to coordinate with some national science organizations (NOAA, NASA etc.).  Toomey: Congressman DeFazio has championed EEW and is interested in coordinating with NOAA.
  • TJ -- Seattle is looking for direction on how to manage early warning alerts- suggested greater involvement by various state agencies.  There are several pieces.  Wireless emergency alert system is granular.  IPAWS/WEA is slow. 
  • WEA (Wireless emergency alert) and IPAWS were discussed for warning dissemination but are currently too slow for deep and crustal earthquake alerts. 
  • Behavioral psychologists need to be consulted in the crafting of the alert system.
  • Schelling -- Most California discussions centered on San Andreas Fault. Subduction zone issues are different particularly in warning times to prepare for 10 s, 30 s, 60 s, several minutes of warning.  Crafting, and distributing appropriate messages will be a challenge.
  • Scott Hines: 25-40 seconds … what the messaging is will be incredibly important.  Messaging should tell recipient what to do.  
  • Schelling: consistency in messaging is also important. Is a 10 second warning different than a 1-minute warning? 5 minute warning? If so, how?  
  • Seth -- tornado warnings may have good lessons for EEW.  What do the Mexicans do (Mexico city warning system?)? Look into this and report back.
  • CB -- clients will want to know what motions their building was subjected to.
  • Yelin: when we start issuing public warning…what is role of Washington Emergency Management? 
  • Schelling: Emergency managers dealing with liability issues. Worries that getting some funding and standing up some minimal system may endanger future funding (attitude: “well it’s built then—we are safe why do you need more?”). What does a consistent message look like across entire region? Consistency was key in discussions of Tsunami notification; should look at lessons learned from that experience: best practice. Still…  groundwork that needs to be laid. 
  • Bill: A lot of thoughtful study and message development needs to occur before public system is released.
  • Art: What would message be for a large earthquake off of SW Oregon?  
  • John H: Messaging for EEW from transportation perspective not worked out because of diversity of cases (e.g., moveable bridges? tunnels? etc.).
  • Jeff Soulages: At Intel, talks internal talks are progressing but not finalized.  Quite complicated manufacturing processes require sophisticated system to interface with numerous protective systems designed to prevent and contain all hazardous materials releases.  More worried about the more probable threats (i.e., forklift running into a pipe or tank).  Material handling systems need to be automated and so solid data on system reliability is needed before integration of warnings in to manufacturing processes.  Also they need to be FAST.
  • Moran: back to messaging.  Tornados provide a possible model.  
  • Gala Gulacsik (FEMA Region X): The FEMA NEHRP State Support program provides assistance to States through its existing cooperative agreements with consortia/partners (EERI, FLASH, CREW, etc.) for projects related to these (among other) categories of eligibility:
    • o Earthquake awareness and education, and 
    • o Encourage the development of multi-jurisdictional groups.

In 2014, FEMA NEHRP and its partner EERI supported a State Support request from California OES to conduct Earthquake Early Warning Education Planning.  California OES formed a committee that developed recommendations on an Education and Training Program for EEW.  They are looking to continue this project in 2015.  Also UASI dollars were used to expand strong motion monitoring in the LA area. 

  • Schelling: Messages developed in may not be valid for all PNW alerts.  We need local effort to develop appropriate messages.
  • Cassidy:  Status in Canada:  Staying engaged and watching how the WCEEW system develops.


Lunch Break and Program:


M9 Project report by Erin Wirth

Erin introduced the interdisciplinary M9 project to the committee and briefly described its various components. Her Powerpoint is also linked.


M9 Project Goals:

  • ¥ Reduce the catastrophic potential of a M9 earthquake in Cascadia, through advances in hazard assessment and adaptive planning.
  • ¥ Move towards more probabilistic predictions of a M9 event and its subsequent consequences. 


Reconvene after Lunch


CB Crouse, Project 17 – 2020 NEHRP Maps  

 Issues under discussion for next iteration of maps:

  • NEHRP maps renewed every 6 years or longer? Hazard levels move up and down at various sites depending on new information produced since last iteration. 
  • Precision,given measurement uncertainty (ground motions to the nearest 10th? etc.). 
  • Levels (MCER + SLE + ?) [max cred. eq, Service Level Earthquake: 43 year return]. 
  • Multiple periods, T.  Now only use 3 points, considering up to 10 points—smoother spectrum.
  • Damping ratios other than 5%?.
  • Basins (few cities, or all of US) - opinions divided as to whether to wait or go ahead at cities with more knowledge. 
  • Uniform hazard or risk? 2% in 50-year hazard level or 2% probability of failure in 50 years. 
  • Deterministic caps (Mmax?), for case when probabilistic estimates too high for realistic  design.
  • Fragility (M8-9) vs. M7) should we take duration into account? 
  • Geometric mean vs. maximum direction.  Vertical component (important for tanks, power plants w/suspended boilers, etc.) should vertical spectrum be devised. 
  • How do we handle induced seismicity? 
  • Site factors for CEUS.
  • Physics-based models.  Should be able to use where we have enough information. 


Craig comment: list needs to be delivered to Reston of USGS products needed for the maps.

Tim: ASCE-17(?)  has committee looking into Tsunami loads.  Not much input from Tsunami science committee, more from the engineering side.  Maps they’re using are somewhat controversial.  


John V: How would you incorporate basins in cities other than the 3 you’re looking at? 

CB: Not really clear. Even the approach in the 3 cities varies by city.  Lack of manpower a big issue. 


John Schelling WAEMD update:


  • Great Washington Shakeout goal for 2015 was having 1 million people registered.  Met that last year.  Would like to reach out to PNSN to use M9 results help with campaign development for next year. 
  • Resilient Washington Program: gaining traction.  Governor has approved sub-cabinet to develop implementation plan to make suggestions therein. 
  • Projects underway with CREW.  Want to meet with Oregon resiliency project to communicate broader regional need (6 months or so). 
  • Similarly, a project with FEMA (QuakeSmart toolkit) June 17th (6/18 in Oregon).  More effective mitigation. 
  • Tsunami, collaboration with UW, DNR, NOAA.  Tsunami hazard in San Juans.  Vertical evacuation.  First project to built in Acosta.  
  • Volcano: CVO (Carolyn Driedger) signage from Rainier to be expanded to Mounts Glacier and Baker. 


Tim Walsh, WA DNR: 

  • NEHRP site characterization proposal recommended but not funded (for 3rd year in a row!).
  • FEMA RiskMap (flooding in WA, but will be looking at updating HAZUS inventory for multi-hazards). 
  • Shipborne magnetics focused on Dabob Bay fault zone. 
  • Purchased GPR, partnering with Brian Atwater to try to map tsunami deposits.  Some success for shallow deposits. 
  • Policy issue:  Because of oil train issue, proposal for port enhancements including tsunami scenarios and mitigation plans. 


Ian Madin, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) Update:

Agency is in the midst of management, fiscal and budget crisis, outlook for 2015-2017 uncertain.

Agency is undergoing comprehensive financial and business practice review and has experienced a complete turnover of management since January.  The agency budget has been taken out of the normal Legislative process.

DOGAMI seismic hazard projects:

  • Original Agency budget included funds for the transfer of 15 Oregon BB Seismic stations from IRIS to UO/PNW, transfer is underway.
  • Original Agency budget included support for a comprehensive review of Oregon strong motion instrumentation program.  The agency seeks a sustainable program that keeps track of instrumentation and data.
  • DOGAMI has NEHRP proposal pending to look at age of large landslides in Oregon Coast Range as first step to understanding how coastal landslide activity is related to Cascadia Subduction Zone seismicity.
  • DOGAMI has submitted a proposal to NTHMP, focusing on “Beat the Wave” evacuation mapping and maritime guidance brochures.
  • DOGAMI is preparing Cascadia Hazus runs for coastal communities using ORP ground motions and UDF, funds from FEMA risk map.
  • DOGAMI is looking to run a Portland area course on Hazus CDMS, looking for additional participants.
  • Several bills related to seismic hazards, and originating from the Oregon Resilience Plan are still alive in the legislature:
  • HB 2270 Creates a State Resilience Officer in Governor’s office.
  • HB 3447 and SB 94A require state Land Conservation and Development Commission to require tsunami hazard planning in affected coastal communities.
  • SB 808A establishes a task force to review plans and preparations to deal with mass displacement and emergency health care needs resulting from a Cascadia earthquake.
  • SB 775 provides a liability waiver for entities that conduct vulnerability assessments of their facilities, but have not taken steps to correct them before an event occurs and damage ensues.
  • Seismic retrofit issues are a major political issue in the current legislative session.  The Governor’s budget included $100M in bonds for school retrofit, up from ~$15M. Senate President proposed $200M, Senate Minority Leader proposed $300M. It is difficult to know how this program fits in key legislators priority lists.
  • The Legislature also needs to decide on investing ~$270 M for a Capitol Building retrofit (base isolation).  This appropriation is politically entwined with partisan battle over spending on a dangerous school building retrofit program underway but seriously underfunded.



Doug Toomey UO Perspective: 

  • •Cascadia Initiative, EEW has provided opportunity to get UW/UO together. 
  • •Funding improved, EEW, CI stations, UO has stepped up funding. 
  • •Congressman DeFazio has been a big help 
  • •Need to figure out how to solve cooperation problem.
  • •Issues:  OR suffered under decreasing budgets perhaps been turned around.  Budget not rosy, but politicians see capability to fund these initiatives.  Concerns:  Continuity of operations.  Public private partnership LNG plant proposed for Coos Bay, and from Portland.  DeFazio introduced UO to Jordan Cove. City of Portland has put EEW on agenda.  


CVO, Seth Moran: 

This year was 35th anniversary of 1980 eruption. Open house. 1000 attendees.  

• Transition time in terms of age of staff.

• Guiding force is NVEWS.  Never received an authorization vote (the Volcano analog of ANSS).  8 very high threat volcanoes in PNW: primary foci for development.  Priorities:  Mt Hood has 3 sites in a several-year process after denial of categorical exemption; need to go through full environmental review, and thus will take another year.  Scoping letter released last week.  Had a recent meeting with Jim Pena, who suggested for uber environmental process for all volcanoes in national forest.  An important milestone:  CVO has installed and now operates, 26 seismic station (and gps too).  Impacts to network to consider:  80% probability of an eruption in next 50 years.  Community preparedness is big push in light of that.  Last month:  NIMS training; has consequences.  

Lidar: for drainage characterization.  Pierce county proposal to upgrade lahar monitoring system.  Spirit Lake tunnel issue:  Plan for a temporary fix (3M$), but also needs a more permanent fix. 


Lind Gee, N. Calif. and NSMP report: 

Despite what we may think here, there is a focus in N. Cal. on Cascadia subduction zone.  Lind reviewed CISN structure.  Plans for Cascadia subduction area:  Primary target has been to upgrade monitoring.  Replace older systems operating along coast, i.e., high latency (CREST) stations with new low-latency dual-feed systems.  Retain 5 Cascadia Project broad band stations and PBO stations.  Staff member will be located in Arcata.  Expansion of microwave telemetry system northward from Bay Area into SW Oregon.  

NSMP:  Primarily band-aids in the plan due to lack of resources, need to re-capitalize.  Automatic data processing by IRIS is under study.


John Cassidy, Natural Resources Canada: 

  • Major monitoring upgrades: Up to 150 sites across Canada to be rebuilt and telemetry improved to reduce latencies.
  • Many new strong motion instruments  + ~40 stand-along SMOs to be deployed 
  • Existing GPS to be upgraded 
  • Seismic hazards research: new models including more subduction models, etc. 
  • Comparing USGS and Canadian model (GSC and USGS 2014) 
  • Haida Gwaii Special Issue of BSSA. Surprise subduction zone event (although long suspected by Canadians)
  • Seismic risk study for N. Vancouver.  
  • North coast geohazards 6 NW seismic/geodetic sites including high sample rate gps realtime seismic 
  • Volcanic Ash response planning.
  • Seismic Hazard a focus of 11th Canadian Conf. of EE Victoria, BC  July 21-24th
  • Quick policy notes (from Kathryn Forge) 
  • BC EQ “Immediate Response” Plan on EMBC website soon. 
  • Cascadia Rising exercise (2016) EMBC/PSC working with US EM. 
  • EEW Consultation. 
  • ONC (Ocean Networks Canada): 
  • 5 Titan strong motions in northern Vancouver. 
  • Deployment of tsunami monitoring sites.  


Discussion arising from afternoon program updates:

Carlos Ventura’s EEW systems deployed P-wave detectors deployed in Catholic schools in Vancouver BC area. 


Q: How fast after quake before SMO data available for engineers? 

A: some within minutes, some within hours (Ocean Networks). 

Information dissemination in Oregon is difficult, particularly when events occur afterhours.

  • Where should seismologists turn when an Oregon event, happens particularly afterhours?
  • Who can meet media demands for information in Oregon media markets?

Doug:  There will be a DOGAMI function even if agency structure is slightly different.  Doug willing to talk to press.  OEM should be the contact.  Feels that there is an opportunity to un-silo the Oregon agencies knot and redefine a communications plan.

Jeff Soulages:  OSSPAC.  Althea Rizzo manages the earthquake program and OEM has a new Director.  Since new resiliency plan, there is attempt to coalesce and get State Resiliency Office that would oversee efforts within all State agencies.  Pushing to get program continuity beyond the current all-volunteer effort.  Lots of energy in state (OR) but mostly due to volunteer efforts.  

CREW is also primarily a volunteer effort but has paid executive director and a budget of ~ 200K/yr., some of which is for State program support.


A messaging meeting is needed to develop coherent communications for the Cascadia Region involving States and BC Province.  Something like CVO’s volcano hazards working groups?  

Gomberg: CREW is working on a communications development project that USGS SAFR is interested in funding.  


Someone suggested the need for a single organization for messaging. 

Schelling: SCEC-like organization?  

Toomey:  Exactly so.  Regional-scale effort like that needed. 

Gomberg:  Subduction Zone Observatory a step in that direction? 

Toomey:  Funding possibilities:  Swiss Re & Murdock foundation 


Action Items (Bill’s list):


Formulating an action plan to contact Swiss Re & Murdock, say.  

Could look at Moore and other potential funding resources.

Bill asked for an Advisory Committee sub-committee to guide the effort.


Doug Toomey, John Schelling, Brandon Hardenbrook, Bill Steele, John Cassidy, Joan Gomberg


Meeting was adjourned at 3:30