Globe map by Rusty Johnson
the Circum-Pacific Region is in triage after the late December tsunami
wipe-out, geologists involved with geohazards continue to struggle
with a question:
an actual warning -- which is nigh impossible this side of a Ouija
board -- how are scientists to provide relevant information concerning
recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park,
Calif., and an officer of the AAPG-affiliated Circum-Pacific Council,
has approached the question throughout his 30-year career.
comes to geohazards, geologists have done a bang-up job on answering
the basic questions of Where, What, Why and How.
When that presents the conundrum.
in point is the Natural Hazards Potential Map of the Circum-Pacific
Region, published by the Circum-Pacific Council in 1990 and available
through the AAPG Bookstore.
noted areas where earthquakes were prone to occur, rated volcano-prone
areas and marked areas where tsunamis likely lurked sometime in
the future. But when the future became "now" on Dec. 26, there was
little infrastructure for warning -- and the highly-populated coastal
areas were ripe for disaster.
time, loss of life is at 175,000-plus and growing.
disasters will only get worse, Howell said, as "more things are
put in harm's way -- mainly people, in the case of the Circum-Pacific."
that cities are continuing to be built -- and grow -- in geologically
tend to have greater vulnerability to loss of life," Howell said.
"If that same tsunami would have hit the West Coast of the U.S.,
it is highly unlikely we would have lost anywhere near as many people.
However, if that earthquake would have hit on the West Coast, the
property damage would have been astronomical."
humans reactively rock along, cleaning up after geo-tragedy after
geo-tragedy -- and rebuilding in the same way in the same places,
despite evidence that the probabilities are still intact for a repeat
performance of at least one or several potential natural hazards.
Howell says part of the process in answering the conundrum remains
the same -- education.
the latest Circum-Pacific projects is still fighting the good fight
-- the Crowding the Rim initiative (August
2001 EXPLORER). The CTR project involves the initial partners
-- the USGS, American Red Cross and Stanford University -- as well
as other earth science organizations through out the Pacific region.
held workshops, hosted a summit, created an interactive Web site,
published an educational module and produced RIM SIM, a game simulation
used to model effective multiparty negotiations in post disaster
can be reached through the Web site at www.crowdingtherim.org,
which includes HazPac, an online map and database that allows a
viewer to explore and learn about natural hazards of the Pacific
Rim. As a dynamic and interactive map, it illustrates how natural
hazards can affect the people and economies of local and distant
Earth is taking center stage and everyone who can read or watch
television has seen the devastation and been given Geology 101 lessons
on why and how it happened, perhaps these education efforts can
have a lasting effect in the recovery and rebuilding phase.
the Rim initiative certainly hopes so.