Oregon Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries
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News Releases
Be alert for landslides in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington - 10/21/17

PORTLAND, Ore. -- With flash flood and flood watches in effect through Sunday, be alert for landslides in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington.

"Heavy rain can trigger landslides," says Bill Burns, engineering geologist at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI). "Be aware of the landslide hazard and avoid areas where landslides are possible."

The National Weather Service (NWS) flash flood watch includes the Eagle Creek burn area, and is in effect through Sunday afternoon. Recently burned areas are more susceptible to landslides. With vegetation removed, rain can reach soil more quickly, and loss of root strength also means less stable soil.

The NWS flood watch area in northwest Oregon includes the Portland metro area, the central Willamette Valley, the north Oregon coast and northwest Coast Range, the northern Cascade foothills, and lower Columbia. In southwest Washington, the flood watch area includes the central and western Columbia River Gorge, greater Vancouver area, the I-5 corridor in Cowlitz County, the south Washington Cascades and Cascade foothills, the south Washington coast, and Willapa Hills. The flood watch is in effect through late Sunday night.

Some areas are especially hazardous, Burns says. People, buildings and roads located below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at serious risk. The most dangerous places include:
- Canyon bottoms, stream channels, and areas of rock and soil accumulation at the outlets of canyons.
- Bases of steep hillsides.
- Road cuts or other areas where slopes of hills have been excavated or over-steepened.
- Places where slides or debris flows have occurred in the past. DOGAMI's interactive SLIDO shows where past landslides have been mapped: www.oregongeology.org/slido.

"With landslides possible in these areas, stay alert to weather conditions and to what's happening around you," says Ali Ryan Hansen, DOGAMI communications director. If your home, work, or route is in a watch area:

- Stay alert. Track the flood watch by radio, TV, weather radio or online. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Listen. Unusual sounds might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. If you think there is danger of a landslide, leave immediately.
- Watch the water. If water in a stream or creek suddenly turns muddy or the amount of water flowing suddenly decreases or increases, this is a warning that the flow has been affected upstream. You should immediately leave the area because a debris flow may soon be coming downstream.
- Travel with extreme caution. Assume roads are not safe. Be alert when driving, especially at night. Embankments along roadsides may fail, sending rock and debris onto the road.

For most recent watch information, visit: http://www.weather.gov/pqr/

For more landslide and debris flow information: http://bit.ly/landslidehazards

Be alert for landslides in the Chetco Bar burn area - 10/18/17

CORRECTED VERSION: Watch is for Thursday 10/19/2017


MEDFORD, Ore. - The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Thursday morning through Thursday evening for the Chetco Bar burn area.

"Heavy rain can trigger landslides and debris flows in steep terrain, and the risk is higher in burn areas," says Bill Burns, engineering geologist at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI). "Be aware of the landslide hazard, and avoid burn areas."

Find a map of the watch area and latest information here: http://www.weather.gov/mfr/

Debris flows are rapidly moving, extremely destructive landslides. They can contain boulders and logs transported in a fast-moving soil and water slurry down steep hillsides and through narrow canyons. They can easily travel a mile or more. A debris flow moves faster than a person can run.

People, structures and roads located below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at serious risk.

"With landslides possible in this area, stay alert to weather conditions and to what's happening around you," says Ali Ryan Hansen, DOGAMI communications director. If your home, work, or route is in a watch area:

- Stay alert. Track the flood watch by radio, TV, weather radio or online. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Listen. Unusual sounds might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. If you think there is danger of a landslide, leave immediately.
- Watch the water. If water in a stream or creek suddenly turns muddy or the amount of water flowing suddenly decreases or increases, this is a warning that the flow has been affected upstream. You should immediately leave the area because a debris flow may soon be coming downstream.
- Travel with extreme caution. Assume roads are not safe. Be alert when driving, especially at night. Embankments along roadsides may fail, sending rock and debris onto the road.

For more landslide and debris flow information: http://bit.ly/landslidehazards

Interactive lidar map reveals Oregon's dramatic landscapes - 10/10/17

PORTLAND, Ore. - From mountain peaks to city skylines, Oregon's dramatic landscapes are revealed with the state's new interactive lidar map.

Lidar technology offers precise, high-resolution images of the surface of the earth, vegetation, and the built environment. The Lidar Data Viewer interactive map features layers for bare earth, which shows everything above the surface of the earth stripped away; highest hit, which shows a birds-eye view of trees and buildings; and bare earth slope, which shows steepness of slopes.

"With the lidar viewer, you can explore Oregon in an entirely new way," says Jacob Edwards, who coordinates the Oregon Lidar Consortium for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI). "Whether it's the bare surface of Mount Hood or an overhead look at the buildings of downtown Bend, you'll see landmarks much differently."

Lidar has not only revolutionized geologic and natural hazard mapping, says State Geologist Brad Avy, but has become an essential tool for communities.

"By making lidar easy and free to download with the new viewer, the data is more widely accessible for many practical uses, from prioritizing road repairs to identifying dangers like mine shafts when fighting fires," Avy says.

The viewer also expands the lidar data available for download. Since the Oregon Lidar Consortium (OLC) was formed in 2007, DOGAMI has partnered on collection of lidar data with more than 80 state and federal agencies, Tribes, city and county governments, watershed councils, non-profit organizations, and businesses. The viewer includes lidar data from 18 recent OLC projects covering 15,087 square miles of Oregon, including areas in 31 of Oregon's 36 counties.

"Ninety-five percent of the newly released lidar coverage is for areas where there was no previous lidar data," Edwards says. "As more uses for lidar emerge, we're working with partners to identify areas where having lidar data could meet a critical need."

The viewer's launch is happening during Earth Science Week, proclaimed as October 8-14 by Governor Kate Brown. The week's theme of "Earth and Human Activity" promotes awareness of what geoscience tells us about human interaction with the planet's natural systems and processes.

Find the Lidar Data Viewer interactive map at: www.oregongeology.org/lidar

Oregon awarded grant for tsunami preparedness projects - 10/05/17

NEWPORT, Ore. -- A $354,241 federal grant will fund multiple projects aimed at increasing the resilience of coastal communities, Oregon officials announced today.

"Oregon's vision is for coastal residents and visitors to be fully prepared for and resilient to Cascadia Subduction Zone tsunamis," says State Geologist Brad Avy. "This federal grant funding is critical in continuing our progress toward that vision."

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) work closely together, and with coastal communities, on projects supported by the grant.

Grant-funded projects will include:
- New tsunami signs, including more than 100 additional "Tsunami Hazard Zone" signs on Highway 101 and 100 evacuation map signs for locations with high foot traffic
- Evacuation route enhancements, including new wayfinding signs for up to three coastal communities and evacuation speed and route modeling for the South Beach area of Newport
- Tsunami Safe, an ongoing program to provide the hospitality industry with training and tools to increase the tsunami hazard awareness of staff and coastal visitors
- The OregonTsunami.org website, the state's online hub for essential tsunami resources
- Publication of tsunami data for the Columbia River, including new virtual tsunami time history stations
- Development of digital wave arrival map layers for the north coast
- Outreach activities and events, including a coastal tsunami symposium in 2018

As a partner in the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP), Oregon is eligible for grant funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. Since 2009, Oregon has received $4.65 million in NTHMP grants. The grant funds have been essential in helping Oregon better understand and prepare for tsunamis, says Dr. Jonathan C. Allan, DOGAMI coastal geomorphologist and project lead.

"Thanks to these grant funds, the entire Oregon coast now has tsunami evacuation maps that are available as print evacuation brochures and through a web map," Allan says. "Development of those maps was a crucial accomplishment in helping residents and visitors get to safety. And that's just one example of many."

The grants have also funded ongoing outreach that's critical in increasing awareness of the tsunami hazard and preparedness actions.

"We look forward to continuing to improve our tsunami evacuation routes on the coast," says Dr. Althea Rizzo, OEM Geologic Hazards Program coordinator and project lead. "Visitors to the Oregon coast should take some time to practice walking the routes. We want our guests to be safe during emergencies."

For more information about tsunami preparedness, visit OregonTsunami.org.