Cordilleran Section - 115th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 34-7
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


RUBIN, Jeffrey N., Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, 11945 SW 70th Ave, Tigard, OR 97223

Effective hazard assessment is an essential base for risk analysis and potential risk reduction. Whether at regional, state, or local level, geologic mapping and related research are defining components of hazard assessment. The Pacific Northwest (PNW) hosts multiple hazards that vary by frequency, predictability, and population at risk: wildfires, storms and floods, landslides, volcanic activity, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The dynamic nature of geological processes, including climate change, indicates a future not necessarily consistent with the recent past. Risk is augmented by the relative lack of recent major disasters in the PNW: lack of personal reference frames increases the challenge of risk communication and public support for risk reduction actions.

The foundation of hazard assessment is characterization: hazard type, history, expected frequency, areas at risk, and range of severity. Detailed characterization, particularly via primary and derivative geologic maps, can inform preparedness efforts from programs to policies. Geospatial information helps delineate potential threat to life, the built environment, and natural systems: this can be applied to hazard vulnerability analyses and policy decisions, e.g., building codes, land-use laws, insurance requirements and pools. Geologic mapping, particularly enhanced by high-resolution imaging, have more immediate applications as well: contributing to planning and exercises, informing public warning during emergency response, and supporting recovery and restoration.

One of the most important applications of hazards research is also one of the greatest challenges: making information accessible to users in policymaking, public safety, and the general public. Effective risk and crisis communication demands understanding and incorporating risk perception principles, identifying audiences, and recognizing their needs and constraints.

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