A couple of weeks ago I gave a short talk on lahar hazard issues to the Whatcom County Council. The talk was a bit of a follow up on a presentation that had been made to the County Council in February by geologists from the USGS Cascade Volcano Observatory and geologists who work for Whactom County. The USGS gave a presentation on Mount Baker Hazards and answered questions from the council.
Council Member Barbara Brenner had asked Don Easterbrook to speak at the Council meeting. Dr. Easterbrook had written to the council (whatcom.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/27435) that had some contrary opinions to lahar hazard mapping that has been done by the USGS. I was asked by Council if I would be willing to speak on the issue as well. This is in part because of information that I had forwarded to the Council that was contrary to Dr. Easterbrook's views as well as my technical review of the County geology hazardous areas regulations.
What follows are the slides I used in my presentation which was primarily on process and how public policy regarding geologic hazard and risk can be approached. Some elaboration as fitting is provided below each slide.
The emphasis was to link it to the fact that determining the potential for a hazard event taking place means that there will be scientific uncertainty, and scientists should be comfortable explaining the uncertainty to policy makers. I felt the the USGS folks had done a reasonable job at this during their presentation, but there things are worth repeating.
Armero tragedy of 1985 when over 23,000 people were killed by a lahar associated with a small volcanic eruption.