2016 RAC Minutes


ANSS-PNW Advisory Committee Meeting

May 23, 2016 (9:30am – 1:00pm)

University of Washington Club


Bill Steele welcomed the committee and thanked them for their valuable time. Members introduced themselves. A committee list of attendees is attached to the minutes.


John Vidale – Introduction (Power Point on line)

Lots of activity this last year; e.g., increased funding for EEW, network expansion along coast and new PNSN website with improved analysis tools. URMs are in the news again, but no big earthquakes.

Potential 2016 Action items: keep RAC informed (quarterly reports), recommendations for EEW, support for retrofitting, activity near volcanoes is up, Oregon network is growing, exploring how to best monitor offshore.

The PNSN faces challenges managing growth. Funding increases come in quickly, but hiring and training new personnel and permitting and installing new stations, takes time.


CB Crouse – NEHERP Provisions Issues (Power Point on line)

Decide which issues we need to tackle for the current code cycle; recent changes in ground-motion specification in building codes: 1997 – seismic zones to spectral acceleration contours, 2007 – hazard-based definition of spectral accelerations to risk-based definition.


Two main issues: multi-period response spectra (currently uses two points, want to use smooth spectrum 0-10 second periods), deterministic caps (set at 84th percentile).


Future direction: Physics-based models (to include directivity and basins). Use full 3-D numerical models to develop spectral acceleration maps in LA, SEA, SF, SLC; consideration for ASCE 7-22 Standard. SCEC started in process ~2008; UGMS committee formed 2013 w/ goal to develop ground motion maps for LA.

Results for sites on rock: empirical NGA West2 GMPE’s and Cybershake simulations produced similar results for two sites; for basins Cybershake simulations show amplification in 4 – 10 s period band.


Site coefficients for CEUS (different from current coefficients)

Induced seismicity probably won’t be included; USGS to produce maps, but induced seismicity won’t be used for seismic code. Art Frankel: USGS updates hazard maps each year, but no plans to change provisions.


Soil-structure interaction: new provisions for piles, footing-soil modeling, relax some restrictions.


Will the updated spectral acceleration values increase hazard issues with old buildings?

Problematic buildings are shorter periods, so the basin effects and updated spectra shouldn’t affect them as much, though they will still have issues.


Code language for considering basin effects? There isn’t going to be a change in the language in ASCE 7-16, but can interpret it to include basins. Why no more explicit direction? See what we can do about amending LA City building code - may need to revise language in provisions.


Challenge engineers to explain hazard to laypeople; identify best parameter to plot for single-family homes.


Brian Sherrod, USGS

The USGS Seattle Field Office at UW is expanding. Two electronic technician hires for lab were completed and one IT position was opened but not filled. The IT position has not been re-advertised yet. We had very few responses and suspect relatively low salary was to blame. The position is being rewritten and will be re-advertised later this year at a higher grade.

New stations permitted and selected for EEW; approach: 100 stations to be selected and permitted in 2 years. All new stations must go through NEPA permitting process that can involve archeological review and tribal approvals that require additional costs and time.

Bottleneck: getting sites through permitting process it can take up to 2 years to get a site permitted. Plan to work through permitting in batches (6 months per batch).

Requisition: We would like to hire a contractor to manage the permitting process for 1 – 2 years. The permitting and installations will likely take more than the 2 years originally planned.


How do we know IT hire will go better than first?

We can’t be certain but the position being rewritten for higher grade; hopefully higher pay will attract more applicants. Good candidates have a lot of options in high tech area like Seattle and the Government hiring process can annoy candidates.

What does “siting” involve? Instrument in ground, fence, structure. Anything that disturbs the ground has to go through the NEPA process.

How many times rejected? A PNSN site has never been rejected. Target places where we know we can do what we need, avoid archeological sites, etc.

How many stations installed so far? None of these stations, but probably several dozen coming up.

Seth- At every site permitting is different; forests that have had have a history with litigation tend to default to full NEPA review.

M. Dixon offers help; sounds like blanket for forests will not work, will need to deal with ranger districts individually.


Maximilian Dixon, Washington EMD (replacing John Schelling who changed jobs)

Recently hired two new tsunami program coordinators; new volcano coordinator

Reorganization coming with other staff retiring.


Great Washington ShakeOut 1M participants goal was met, looking to improve on that number and work hard to tying in preparedness, Drop, Cover, Hold on and do one more thing.

Resilient Washington: Times articles, making sure governor is on board

EEW: applying for NEHRP funding w/ Oregon, put together standardized messaging strategy (e.g., what to tell people on coast if Cascadia begins in California, etc.)

Data sharing, using Cascadia Rising as a catalyst, how are we using information, data sharing? Communications out? Situational awareness, “muscle memory”

School seismic safety, apply for NEHRP funding


Tim Walsh

Putting together new Landslide Hazards Program (post-Oso). This will include more lidar flown in the Cascade foothills.

Installed portables in Monroe, borrowed 14 more from Passcal, in Granite Falls for fault mapping project.


Tsunami: partnering with PMEL and UW to model DOGAMI 2,500 year event (L1) for inundation and current velocities in Puget Sound. He is briefing ports and WSDOT Ferries on findings.


Model for vertical evacuation structures, Long Beach berm planning seems to be producing estimates that are way over original budget. Contractors assumptions are being reviewed.

Two NEHRP proposals: measure deep shear wave velocity in basins (microtremor array) across Seattle Fault and Key Peninsula; joint w/ UCLA to characterize shear wave velocity structure in PNSN region for subduction zone “next generation attenuation” models (NGA).


Method for 80 station experiment? Active and passive, MASW, HV ratios, GPR also (whatever is available) to better characterize the Seattle Fault Zone and basin.


How deep? 900 m (from Reno basin study), 1 km (from Ray Cakir) on phone.

Seismic characterization for school sites (Chelan county) and counties (FEMA RiskMap); something the legislature should fund.


Laurie Holien

OSPAC looking at resiliency, Governor Kate Brown nominated an Oregon State chief resilience officer but the Senate refused to confirm. She has made another nomination, Mike Harryman, who is still awaiting senate confirmation. If confirmed, he will be in office until June 2017.

OSPAC Subcommittee is working to develop a white paper for implementation of EEW system. Suggests development of model legislation; only looking at Oregon but coordinating with CREW as EEW is a regional program.

It might be useful to include a seismologist in development of the white paper, but it is focused on public policy.

Four communities will install painted “blue lines” on roadways (not just signs) at the boundary of tsunami inundation zones. Modeled after New Zealand project these will be on locally owned roads. ODOT not currently involved in project.


Messaging: OR citizens State wide need to be prepared for at least 2 weeks on there own following disasters. PSA and campaign on how to build a kit, VOST and social media (Twitter chat), lots of leverage from New Yorker “The Really Big One” article.

Concern expressed that the public is getting mixed messages (3 days vs. 1 week vs. 2 weeks). Washington State is not yet adopting the two-week timeframe. Oregon, California, Washington, and BC. and FEMA are not in agreement on preparedness messaging. Would benefit from more coordination?

Discussion: Cascadia Rising presents a worst case scenario and should be advertised as such; rare to get attention from public; doom and gloom could lead to apathy. Hoping public will take small steps leading to sense of empowerment and more action.


Oregon’s Cascadia Playbook: operational checklist for all hazards (first 14 days following a CSZ event) synchronizes efforts statewide; a redacted electronic version is available but hard copy is controlled document. The playbook will be used in the upcoming Cascadia Rising exercise and following future big earthquakes


Media engagement has huge impact. Seattle got coverage for it’s on line “Hazards Explorer”

that lead to 880,000 hits on their site. Overwhelming but effective.

Prepare media in advance.


John Cassidy (Powerpoint on line)

Canada seismic network – 23 stations on Vancouver Island; all will be upgraded over next 3 years to consistent broadband + strong motion; 30 – 50 km station spacing. Plans for 7 – 8 stations to be upgraded per year.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network – 20 GPS sites, 15 in real-time on Vancouver Island. We proposed adding 7 more real-time GNSS and two GeoBC/CRD (Capital Regional District) stations. The new stations will shorten 6 second packets down to ~1 second packets (actual latencies not yet measured) greatly reducing latencies.

The NBCC National Earthquake Hazard Model changed substantially. It integrates new information on the Cascadia Megathrust, integrates new onshore active faults in the Yukon, and smaller subduction zones to the north. The map also switched from mean to median and is consistent with USGS mapping.

BC Seismic Safety Council – EEW Working Group, Risk Reduction Group (GEMS, identify priority retrofits, scenarios), Tsunami Notification Working Group (facilitate getting messages out)

Schools being upgraded, New Yorker article had impact in Canada as well.


Teron Moore

Recently awarded $5M to expand the use of NEPTUNE cabled network infrastructure toward EEW.

EEW 3-year $5M is capital one-time capital expenditure for onshore and offshore sensor (including GPS) upgrades coordinated with Vancouver Island network upgrades by Natural Resources Canada.

Continuing to exchange ideas and collaboration with PNSN to upgrade networks and expand possibilities for data sharing, etc.

No money in budget to “turn on lights” for BC EEW System yet— have to prove it works.

Undecided about how best to implement EEW. Plans are still evolving. Trying to look south and utilize what makes sense, but be flexible with what might work better for Canada. 

EEW progress could bring some value to US beyond data sharing. We don’t want to completely “reinvent the wheel.”


Jeff Berman, The M9 Project – NSF funded effort (4 years, 2 years left, $3M)

Computationally derived ground motions --> interdisciplinary impacts of those motions --> Outreach.

The goals of the M9 project are to advance fundamental knowledge of how the CSZ works, update building codes, design effective early warnings, update our understanding of potential tsunami generation and impacts, aide land use and planning, and integrate learning into emergency response plans.

Ground motions: 3-D simulation, Art Frankel of the USGS plans to run ~50 CSZ scenarios with varying characteristics (logic tree approach), consistent fault rupture models for tsunamis, validate. Preliminary runs are complete and many more will be run over the summer on DOE supercomputers at Hanford. One model run takes over 24 hours of computer time to run.

The Seattle basin is included in the modeling. Compared with other basins around the world (three in Japan); The Seattle Basin amplifies long period waves and seems to sit near the high end of amplification seen.

Different earthquake scenarios produce very different ground motions (and frequency spectra; different from current ASCE design standard).

Duration of shaking is also a major engineering consideration. Due to the length of the fault shaking will continue for minutes and strong ground motion could impact Seattle from one to two minutes.

UW Civil Engineers are scaling spectra until model building collapses. Cascadia spectra may cause collapse much lower than (FEMA) crustal ground motions derived from shallow earthquakes in California. They are interested in focusing on 20 to 40 story structures as Seattle has many of these and the tallest structures tend to be newer, well engineered, and are complicated.


Tsunami research is another aspect of the M9 project. Inundation of towns and cities and the resulting and understanding the forces put on structures is one target of this research. The Aberdeen/Hoquiam area has been modeled. Looking at impacts on multiple scales (region, community, structure, and eventually structural components). This work will help the modeling of impacts and forces vertical evacuation structures must resist.

The team will eventually produce probabilistic maps based on 50 (random?) scenarios and simulate community-scale models.

Communication – A workshop was held in Aberdeen: attendees aware of multiple hazards, but probabilistic information was interpreted as deterministic.

Dr. Ann Bostrom is studying Perception – Do WA residents want EEW? 2/3rd of residents have experienced an earthquake, ? willing to pay “something” for EEW app.



Do these findings raise red flag about taller buildings in Seattle? Tall buildings complicated, modeling not of tall buildings (single degree freedom systems); have looked up to 20 stories reinforced concrete frames; building damage and likelihood depend largely on duration, spectral shape, and spectral acceleration and all are large for M9 simulations.

Some simulations have strong motions in basin, but how common?

People building tall (240+ ft) buildings do their own PSHA with basin amplification; concern is for slightly shorter buildings that use current code.

Aiming for production codes by mid-summer; another year for full suite of simulations?





Lunch Break


John Vidale channeling Paul Bodin (Power Point on line)




PNSN Org Chart


PNSN Funding status (UW portion) = ~$3.5M

USGS ~ 40 % between the EHP (24.1%), VHP (5.6%) and EEW (10.5%) programs. GB Moore Foundation funding is sun setting but currently makes up 23.5 % with a new separately focused grant in the wings, Washington State 18.4% plus other indirect UW contributions. The DOE provides ~10% through its Hanford Contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA).

About 7% of network funding comes from other private company and foundation sources.


The Data:

The PNSN archived about 5 Million seismograms at the NSF supported Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and they field ~50,000 requests for this data annually. All PNSN data is made available to the world in seconds to minutes of delay from the network detection of ground motion. Most stations are continuously recorded and archived.


Network evolution:

A tremendous amount of work is planned to densify and modernize the PNSN. Permitting, designing, and building new stations to roughly double the stations in the network must be accomplished as we simultaneously modernize antiquated existing stations and maintaining the rest. Even station rebuilds often require re-permitting. This can not be accomplished with out new staff and where practical, contractors.

That said PNSN staff did site, permit, and install 25 new low-latency strong-motion stations along the Washington and Oregon Coast last year greatly improving our coverage of the CSZ.

Hanford funding is back to healthy: transfer to USGS or decommission 11 stations, upgrade 8 – 10 stations, and install 2 new as part of the modernization and re-configuration of the Eastern Washington Network recommended in a DOE supported study last year.

NetQuakes strong motion seismometers were taken offline this Spring after one in CA exploded. Doug Gibbons is gradually replacing all the batteries, making minor case adjustments, and then turning them back on (~20% completed).


Internal upgrades (MUSTANG) The Modular Utility for STAtistical kNowledge Gathering system is an IRIS project to bring data quality analysis services to data sited at IRIS DMC.  The PNSN is working with IRIS to provide a “Dashboard” for use by regional networks to display real-time network capabilities.


Seattle Liquefaction Array pore-pressure sensors and strong motion seismometers at various depths. The strong motion instruments had to be pulled, repaired, and reinstalled and are now 100% operational.



Major PNSN challenges: Network growth, esp. w/ EEW. Need more staff (subcontracting, outsourcing); remove or modernize analog stations rebuilding with digital instruments that require more power and different telemetry.  Coordinating roles with groups that have different interests and priorities is challenging (ANSS vs. EEW vs. volcano vs. “other”).



ANSS Initiatives: Achieve uniform metadata quality and organization w/ SIS;

ComCat; AQMS from Oracle/Sun (expensive!) to Linux and PostgreSQL.

URMs in Seattle: hard to figure out how to make rules, people paying attention (Seattle Times article, etc.), push with Urban@UW to organize discussion with City Council to discuss earthquake hazards, risk and mitigation strategies.


URMs are not not just a Seattle issue, this a problem throughout the Cascadia Region. Perhaps it is time to broaden outreach?


Seth Moran, Cascade Volcano Observatory

May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington.

Background: Expect 8 – 10 eruptions in the Cascades in the return time of a M9 megathrust event. These produce major consequences locally; volcanoes are captivating and disruptive, even in instances of minor unrest. USGS NVEWS (National Volcano Early Warning System) rankings established, 10 of 18 in the highest-threat region reside in the Cascades (4 in Oregon, 4 in Washington, 2 in California). It is important for all those volcanoes to have basic level of monitoring because it is very difficult to try to play catch up during volcanic unrest. We have only achieved appropriate levels of monitoring at Mount St. Helens, but pushes are being made to improve our readiness at other volcanoes, including expansions at Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Hood in the last decade.

Station installation and maintenance: CVO has been progressively taking on more of the responsibility for installing new seismic stations close to volcanoes and tackling the difficult job of permitting Forest Service, National Park, and wilderness area permits that can take years of effort. The number of stations (seismic & GPS) that CVO is responsible for has increased from 3 in 2003 to ~70 stations in 2016.

CVO is wrapping up a five year permitting effort at Hood, including wilderness sites. If a favorable decision is reached by the Mount Hood National Forest by spring 2017, then CVO will install 4 new stations (3 GPS & seismic, 1 gas only) in the fall of 2017.

Glacier Peak has one station on the volcano, the next is ~30 km away.  CVO is presently engaged in a permit process to install 4 more stations (all joint GPS/seismic) at Wilderness sites around Glacier Peak, with an initial period of public comment coming up in the fall/winter of 2016/2017. If no major issues arise and the USFS gives a favorable decision, permission could be received in time for installations in the fall of 2017. CVO is ~1 year away from starting a similar process at Mount Baker to improve its monitoring. The PNSN operates one station on Baker and another nearby at the Baker Ski Area but more is needed, probably would seek to add 4 additional stations.

LIDAR: Money available from the USGS 3Dep program for Light and Distance Ranging, (LiDAR), something that the earthquake & volcano hazard programs have used with great success. In 2014/2015 Glacier Peak and Mount Baker were flown, Glacier Peak data has just finished QA and is now publically available through the Puget Sound LiDAR consortium. Things are looking good for Mount Adams to be flown in 2016. LiDAR gives ~1m-resolution topographic data that is critical for flow modeling for lahars and geologic mapping, among other uses.

At Rainier, Pierce Co. efforts for Lahar Detection System, modernize system and expand to other drainages. In 2016 CVO will be working to upgrade 2 sites on the Puyallup River that are part of the RLDS installed in 1998; work in future years will depend on budget situation.

Challenge – pre-EEW VHP contributing 10% of budget, now 5% despite VHP contributing more – concern that as a result, volcanoes are becoming a lower-priority task in the PNSN vortex.


Post-lahar sedimentation in Seattle? Long-term scenario for Seattle? Concern from public of direct Lahar inundation exaggerated. A cartoon of long term sedimentation was developed (by USGS?) but mapping of the prehistoric sedimentation progression after Osceola Mud Flow ~5500 ya not detailed enough for some uses.

Doug Toomey – PNSN South, UO progress:

EEW opportunities have helped a lot. The UO and USGS have increased support for PNSN operations in Oregon leading to the hiring of Leland O’Driscoll as Project Manager/ Field Engineer full time. UO and UW are collaborating very well. PNSN Goals are best served when strong contributions are made by both State Universities.  This growth has also lead to improved outreach efforts in Oregon generally and to policy makers.

Objectives include achieve stable Federal and State support of earthquake monitoring and research at UO. Increase on-shore station coverage and reduce data latencies in support of EEW. Continue to build partnerships with agencies, businesses, and other stakeholders. Work toward future development of offshore earthquake and tsunami early warning system.

Challenges: Higher risk of CSZ earthquake but underinvestment by State relative to WA and CA limits the publics preparedness and the networks ability to better support EEW.

Opportunities: Improved federal and state funding is strengthening UO role in PNSN, which leverages other opportunities. Work to build partnerships with stakeholders is bearing fruit.

•       State of Oregon ($670K): Purchase 30 high-quality sensors at 15 sites from NSF.

•       ODOT/UO/UW: Intergovernmental agreement that allows PNSN (UO/UW) to operate on ODOT property and utilize ODOT telemetry. 

•       DOGAMI has requested that PNSN develop a prioritized list of sites and costs that could be instrumented with funds from DOGAMI’s strong motion program.  PNSN views this as an exciting development in the State of Oregon.

•       EWEB and UO have signed a letter of intent to sponsor interagency cooperation in education, research, assessment, and mitigation.

•       NERO the Network for Education and Research in Oregon, is a statewide network that provides service to higher education institutions, K12, local and state government, municipalities, and non-profit groups, opened to PNSN telemetry needs.

USGS Support:

•       PNSN ($584K): PNSN work related to earthquake and volcano monitoring.  Funds not used to implement EEW; five year cooperative agreement.

•       EEW-FY2015 ($361K): Supports Leland O’Driscoll, field operations, and outreach.

•       EEW-FY2016 (pending).



Figure 2.


Proposed sites to occupy with DOGAMI support.  A total of 18 candidate sites are shown (magenta), with fifteen recording three-channel strong motion data (open circle) and three sites recording six-channel broadband/strong motion data (target symbol). Red symbols indicate sites currently contributing to EEW.  White squares denote schools that are part of NERO; these provide access to telemetry



David Schmidt: The Gorgon and Betty Moore Foundation Off Shore Project:


The current seismic network is well suited to provide an early warning for earthquakes that fall within the network boundaries, but its capabilities diminish seaward of the coast.  For earthquakes that initiate offshore, the source region for the largest possible event in the region, our existing network will provide a warning.  However, that warning could be improved by up to 15 seconds, the time needed for seismic waves to travel from the source to the first coastal seismic stations.  It is also currently challenging to quickly discriminate distant offshore earthquakes from the more threatening events on the subduction thrust, which are capable of growing into magnitude 9 events.  Therefore, the accuracy of the early warning system is diminished when offshore earthquakes are characterized by only onshore instrumentation.


As a continuation of our EEW funding from the Moore Foundation, we are exploring the design and cost-benefit of an offshore real-time network. We are conducting a suite of research and planning activities that move us towards our goal of extending margin-wide seismic and geodetic monitoring offshore.  One issue of fundamental importance is the design of an offshore network, which must be optimized for reliability, timeliness, footprint, and cost.  To support the engineering design, geophysical assessment of the offshore prism structure and sensitivity studies are needed to assess the required density and mix of instrument types (both seismic and geodetic). The findings from this portfolio of studies will be synthesized through a cost-benefit analysis, which will be critical in evaluating design options or concepts. The final product of this effort will be a white paper that summarizes the design concepts and rationale.

·      John Vidale: EEW development status (John Vidale); Moore Foundation,

The PNSN applied for and received the first Amazon Catalyst Grant awarded at UW. Amazon Catalyst is supporting the further development and integration of the GFast Earthquake Early Warning System with the PNW ShakeAlert. Gfast uses realtime geodetic data to rapidly access the peak ground displacement generated by the fault rupture. This method is particularly useful in constraining the magnitude of great earthquakes rapidly and more accurately than ShakeAlert can using only strong motion data.


The Puget Sound Energy Foundation awarded the PNSN a 100,000, 4 year grant to support the installation of 8 new strong motion stations to improve the speed and accuracy of PNW ShakeAlert by filling in gaps in our current coverage in and surrounding the Puget Sound region. The first two stations will be sited and installed this year.


 Intel, Amazon and Microsoft managers joined UW reps in Washington DC for the White House Summit on Earthquake Resilience. It was very helpful to have their perspective voiced at the event and with agency and congressional staffers seeking to learn about the value of the EEW System.


Challenge: Role of State in this. How should we proceed?



Potential action items for 2016

·      1.  EEW implementation path corrections

·      2.  Is traditional PNSN role being neglected in EEW push?

·      3.  URM retrofit role                   

·      4.  Recommendations for offshore efforts, M9, volcanoes, other?


Respectfully submitted by Alicia Hotovec-Ellis and Bill Steele