Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tsunami Evacuation Buildings: Another Way To Save Lives In The Pacific Northwest

Date:
October 28, 2009
Source:
Geological Society of America
Summary:
Coastal towns and cities in the northwest are woefully unprepared for a large-scale natural disaster. In response, geotechnical engineers are working to develop a series of tsunami evacuation buildings up and down the northwest coast. They would be the first buildings of their kind in the United States.

This shows a conceptual design for the Cannon Beach City Hall, a Tsunami Evacuation Building (Ecola Architects, 2008).
Credit: Photo courtesy of Yumei Wang, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Some time soon, a powerful earthquake will trigger a massive tsunami that will flood the Pacific Northwest, destroying homes and threatening the lives of tens of thousands of people, says Yumei Wang, a geotechnical engineer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries in Portland.

The region's geology makes an earthquake-triggered tsunami inevitable and imminent in geologic time, Wang says, yet coastal towns and cities in the northwest are woefully unprepared for such a large-scale natural disaster. In response, she is working with public officials and stakeholders to develop a series of tsunami evacuation buildings up and down the northwest coast. They would be the first buildings of their kind in the United States. And construction, she urges, can't start soon enough.

"Unless we do this, we will have lots of people dying in a tsunami," Wang says. "That's not how we want our people to die."

Wang will present recommendations in a session titled, Risks and Realities: Current Advances in Understanding Societal Risk and Resilience to Natural Hazards, at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, Oregon in October.

A line of volcanoes from northern California to British Columbia marks the eastern edge of a fault system (called the Cascadia subduction zone), where one plate is wedged under another. Those plates shift like geological clockwork every few hundred years, producing earthquakes that shake the region. The last major quake along the Cascadia subduction zone occurred on January 26, 1700. It produced a tsunami that damaged coastal towns as far away as Japan.

The region's next big earthquake could happen any day now, Wang says, or it might not happen for several hundred years. When the day comes, a tsunami -- with inundation heights of 50 feet or more -- could hit the northwest coast within 10 to 20 minutes.

The standard emergency response in cases like these is to move people inland and uphill, but there are plenty of communities where people simply won't be able to evacuate in time, Wang says. The resort town of Seaside, Ore., for example, is low-lying with inadequate roads and bridges. Kids and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

In Cannon Beach, Ore., Wang has started meeting with officials to hold serious discussions on constructing the first tsunami evacuation building in the U.S. The building, a proposed rebuilding of the town's existing city hall, would have to be made of reinforced concrete with a deep foundation and strong columns, a post-tensioning structural system to keep it upright, an 18-foot tall first floor, and wave-dissipation structures in front and back, among many other design details.

Tsunami evacuation buildings won't be cheap. Wang estimates that the one in Cannon Beach would have an added cost of between $1 million and $2 million. But the building would provide a safe space that people could reach quickly and be ready for emergency response and long term recovery. Getting just one such building off the ground, Wang said, is a critical first step towards creating a network of buildings that will help save many thousands of lives.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Geological Society of America. "Tsunami Evacuation Buildings: Another Way To Save Lives In The Pacific Northwest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019134709.htm>.
Geological Society of America. (2009, October 28). Tsunami Evacuation Buildings: Another Way To Save Lives In The Pacific Northwest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019134709.htm
Geological Society of America. "Tsunami Evacuation Buildings: Another Way To Save Lives In The Pacific Northwest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019134709.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins