Paper No. 178-9
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM
GSA ENGINEERING GEOLOGY DIVISION’S RICHARD H. JAHNS DISTINGUISHED LECTURER: THE CHALLENGES OF PROVIDING LANDSLIDE INFORMATION DURING AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE
When a destructive landslide occurs, geologists may find themselves being part of a team called as part of an emergency response. Being successful during such a stressful and intense assignment, requires rapid acquisition of necessary geologic information. There are five specific challenges to overcome to be sucessful in this situation. First, you must fully understand and remain focused on the objectives of the mission. Second, the landslide information you develop must be reliable within the context of that mission and be obtainable within a limited time. Third, you must access the landslide area safely when collecting needed data. Fourth, you will be interacting with the people being affected by the landslide, personnel responsible for emergency response actions, and decision-makers. This involves understanding that these audiences may have greater or less familiarity with technical language associated with landslides. Fifth, you must communicate your findings to a variety of audiences either verbally or in a written document. Given the constraints on data collection imposed by an emergeny response situation, you will need to ensure that those individuals you are communicating with understand the levels of uncertainty associated with your findings. Experience with a large landslide event damming a river in Dominica, West Indies in 1997 and a large rock slide which buried a major highway in California in 2006 illustrate strategies for surmounting these challenges.