Thursday, October 29, 2009

WSDOT's Earthquake Simulation

WSDOT has created a very cool earthquak simultion for Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct.


Next Meeting - November 5th

Dear AEG Members, Professional Colleagues, Students, and Friends:

The Arizona Section of AEG is pleased to announce that our next meeting will be held on Thursday November 5, 2009 at Pizzeria Uno in Tempe. The hosted social hour begins at 6 PM (thanks to Saguaro GeoServices), dinner is usually around 7 PM and the talk will begin shortly after dinner. The presentation topic is "Evaluation of Earthquake Damage to a Flood Protection Levee System at a Central American Banana Plantation" presented by Bob McMichael, P.E. and Kenneth Turner, R.G. of Ninyo & Moore. Hope to see you all there!

Please RSVP to Bonnie Whitley,, by Tuesday November 2nd.

“Evaluation of Earthquake Damage to a Flood Protection Levee System at a Central
American Banana Plantation”


A seismic event located off the northeastern coast of Central America resulted in damage to an earthen flood protection levee system. An insurance claim by the owner provided anassessment of areas within the levee system that warranted repairs. The purpose of our services was to evaluate the insured’s categorization of damages and to provide an independent opinion based upon our observations. Our assessment of the site conditions involved walking approximately 60 kilometers of the levee system, photographically documenting our observations, and using global positioning system (GPS) devices for location purposes. Our conclusions generally concurred with the owners initial assessment and actually provided additional lineal footage of the levee system to be included for repairs.


Mr. Robert W. McMichael, P.E. was educated at Purdue University, and earned a B.S.C.E. in 1985 and an M.S.C.E. in 1986. He possesses more than 25 years of geotechnical and environmental consulting experience in the western, midwestern and southern United States, and internationally. His experience includes many hundreds of design phase (pre-construction) studies, construction-phase support projects, and postconstruction (forensic) studies. He is the Chief Engineer and Managing Principal of Ninyo & Moore’s operations in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. He provides expert or “forensic” geotechnical consulting services, including expert testimony. He also has specialty expertise in the geotechnical evaluation of environmentally contaminated sites, as well as the analysis and design of dams and levee systems.

Mr. Kenneth J. Turner, R.G. was educated at Northern Arizona University, and earned a B.S. in Geology with an engineering emphasis in 1998. He possesses more than 11 years of geotechnical consulting experience in the southwestern United States and internationally. He is a Senior Engineering Geologist with Ninyo & Moore. As Senior Engineering Geologist for Ninyo & Moore, Mr. Turner's responsibilities include managing forensic; construction service; and geotechnical design projects; authoring geotechnical reports; reviewing boring logs and inspection reports; and also providing guidance and technical advice to junior staff. He has expertise in conducting forensic geotechnical evaluations related to construction.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Proposed cuts to the AZ Geological Survey

As Chair of the AZ Section of AEG I sat on advisory panel that helped the AZGS figure out what to cut from an organization that needs more support and not less. Below is the press release from the State Geologist that he posted on Arizona Geology.

The Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budget this morning released the lists of state agency programs ( that would have to be permanently eliminated or reduced to meet the state’s budget shortfall. The lists would have to go to the Legislature for consideration. The cuts, if implemented, are calculated for taking effect January 1, 2010.

The Arizona Geological Survey would lose state funding to operate 11 out of a total of 24 programs. Another seven program areas would be reduced by amounts ranging from about 5% up to 50%. The programs were prioritized by an external review panel of AZGS stakeholders (data and service users) that used public input to help guide their recommendations.

Core programs we will attempt to preserve are:

Geologic Hazards
Geologic Mapping
Mineral Resources
Basin Analysis (entirely contract and grant funded).

Most of the eliminated programs have only limited state general fund support to begin with; typically a part of one or two people’s time. AZGS has raised external funds for years to subsidize state-mandated operations. We will continue to seek outside monies to underwrite these functions, but the budget scenario proposes transferring funds from external accounts as well to make up the state budget shortfall, leaving fewer options for us to fund these programs.

Phoenix Branch Office
Energy Resources
Core and Sample Repository
Education, Outreach, and Tech Transfer
Enterprise Geodatabase
Earth Fissures
Information Technology Support
Website Updates

Areas taking additional cuts due to transfer of agency-generated funds are:

Energy Resources
Map and Book Store (closed for walk-in sales; mail/phone orders only)
Inquiries, Outreach, and Tech Transfer
GIS Map Production and Database Development
Information Technology Support
Technical Support for the AZ Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.

We are implementing additional cost-cutting moves now, including reducing the number of vehicles and office phones, renegotiating service contracts, and transferring staff to new contracts and grant funded projects.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Request to contact members about Earthquake Re-authorization in Congress

The following message was received from American Geological Institute (AGI), of which AEG is a member society. We realize that many members use the information and resources at the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. If you are interested in assisting, please see below.

Dear Friends of NEHRP,

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) is waiting for re-authorization in Congress. The last authorization ended in 2009 and now the program is in limbo. The House Science and Technology Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee have jurisdiction over NEHRP. Both are working on draft bills for re-authorization but no bill has been introduced in Congress yet. We are worried about possible reductions in authorization levels and possible complications/delays in re-authorization caused by including language that expands the bill to cover other hazards such as wildfires. We have provided input to the committees, however, it would be helpful if stakeholders/constituents provided inputs to their members, especially in states with seismic risk.

So we are asking you to consider sending letters to your members (representative and two senators). It would be most efficient to send the letters by email or by fax. Every member has a web site with email contact info. I would also suggest sending the email to a staffer in the office that you have spoken with in past visits to the Hill. If you need an email address or fax number, please contact Corina (

Below is some draft text that you could use for emails or letters on letterhead. The main message is please re-authorize NEHRP at current authorization levels as soon as possible.

You may also send the text of the letter or if you are using letterhead then an attachment by email to the staff on the relevant committee who are in charge of preparing the NEHRP measure

For the Senate CST, please send emails (can send as one group email) to:

Subcommittee on Science and Space: Beth Bacon

and Minority Staff, Senior Counsel Todd Bertoson,

For House S&T please send emails (can send as one group email) to: Majority staff working for Rep. David Wu (D-OR) Mike Quear, and Meghan Housewright And Minority staff Dan Byers

In the House, Representative David Wu (D-OR) is the member responsible for seeing the NEHRP bill through committee to the full House. In the Senate, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is the responsible member. If you have colleagues from Wu's district or California, then as constituents they can send emails to these two members' personal offices too.

The relevant staff in the office of Boxer is Cerin Lindgrensavage,

The relevant staff in Wu's office is Dennis Worden,

Others are welcome to send emails to these staffers, but constituents are the most important of course.

Some of you are receiving this email because your member is on the relevant subcommittee for NEHRP consideration and you have done congressional visits in the past (e.g. Senator Tom Udall, NM, Sen. John Ensign, NV and Sen. Mike Johanns NE; Rep. Gabby Giffords, AZ, Rep, Ben Luan NM, Rep Harry Mitchell AZ and Rep. Adrian Smith NE). You could send emails to the staffers that you visited with in their personal offices.

You are welcome to invite your colleagues to send emails. Most helpful would be constituents of Rep. David Wu in OR-1st and/or Sen. Boxer in CA.

Thank you, Linda
Linda Rowan
Director of Government Affairs
American Geological Institute
4220 King St
Alexandria VA 22302
703-379-2480 x228
FAX 703-379-7563


The Honorable __________ United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable __________ United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Representative __________:
Dear Senator __________:

I am writing to ask for your support in the re-authorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) [Public Law 108-360]. The program has been running since 1977, but is now in limbo because its authorization ended in 2009.

NEHRP has successfully reduced the risk of earthquakes through the cohesive efforts of four federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Basic research conducted by NSF and the USGS, monitoring and assessments conducted by NSF and the USGS, engineering practices and standards conducted by NIST and education, preparedness and response conducted by FEMA have contributed to fewer fatalities, less property damage and less economic disruption from earthquakes in the United States.

NEHRP is a modest and well run program with strong coordination and collaboration among the four agencies mentioned above. Unfortunately it may become weakened by uncertainty or delay in authorization, reductions in already underfunded programs such as the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) and dilution of the coordination/leadership of the program by the addition of other natural hazards.

Please support the re-authorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) in its current form and at its current authorization levels with small increases for inflation in the coming years.

Thank you,