Doug Toomey attends White House earthquake summit

UO geophysics professor Doug Toomey spoke about the need for an earthquake early warning system.

UO geophysics professor Doug Toomey was among the scientists who traveled to the White House for Tuesday’s Earthquake Resilience Summit, which brought together policy makers, scientists and private stakeholders to advance the work surrounding earthquake safety and advance notice.

Toomey, who also is the lead investigator for the Oregon component of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, spoke to media about an earthquake early warning system. He also talked about the need for ongoing funding to create a system that would be used by the general public in a way similar to weather or Amber alerts.

At the summit, the Obama Administration announced new commitments related to earthquake safety, including an executive order for enhanced seismic safety of federal buildings and continued development of ShakeAlert. ShakeAlert is a West Coast early warning system being developed by U.S. Geological Survey and a coalition of universities — the UO, University of Washington, California Institute of Technology and University of California, Berkeley.

The federal budget passed in December included $8.4 million for further development of the system.

Locally, the Eugene Water and Electric Board announced a commitment to add four seismic sensors to some of their critical infrastructure, which will be added to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. Gov. Kate Brown committed to increasing Oregon’s seismic readiness by hiring a state resilience officer.

Last year the state provided the UO a one-time appropriation of $670,000 to acquire and update 30 seismometers at 15 locations.

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich, and Andrew Phelps, State of Oregon emergency manager, also attended the summit to highlight the need for earthquake preparedness. 

By Heidi Hiaasen, Public Affairs Communications