Brian F. Atwater

U.S. Geological Survey


Primary Section: 15, Geology
Secondary Section: 16, Geophysics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2007)

Research Interests

Having used geology as a long-term advisory of earthquakes and tsunamis in the Cascadia region of western North American, I now try to make this strategy helpful to developing countries. I seek to mentor their scientists in assessing tsunami hazards on the centennial and millennial timescales of great-earthquake recurrence. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami prompted a two-year USAID program that allowed me to attempt such mentoring. In 2006 I led unsuccessful hunts for ancient tsunami deposits at Sunda Strait, southern Java, the Khao Lak area of Thailand, India's Bay of Bengal coast south of Chennai, and India's Arabian Sea coast facing the Makran subduction zone. Officially a trainer, I was being trained by rice paddies, crab-riddled mangroves, and logistics of South and Southeast Asia. The year 2007, however, brought paleotsunami discoveries by Thai and Indonesian scientists who learned with me from these failures. In 2008 I expect to remain involved in earthquake and tsunami geology at Cascadia and on Indian Ocean shores. I also plan to explore earthquake geology in the Dominican Republic, in hopes of guiding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on tsunami hazards of the U.S. Atlantic coast.

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