Landslides: The Major Uninsured Danger in Oregonwith Scott Burns, professor of geology at Portland State University
Each year landslides cause 25-50 deaths and on average $3.5 billion in damage in the United States. Many of these landslides occur in urban settings. Portland has had many landslides and they have caused millions of dollars of damage. Figuring out what caused these landslides and also how to prevent them in urban settings can be a challenge, but research at Portland State University is leading the way. This talk will focus on lessons learned from case histories in mainly Portland, focusing on homes hit by landslides, homes that moved down the slope on landslides, reactivation of ancient landslides, triggers such as precipitation and earthquakes, and vacant lots. Development of susceptibility maps, especially using LiDAR imagery, will be included. Different mitigation methods including different types of dewatering devices, walls, and freezing of the soil will be mentioned. The lack of insurance for landslides on normal homeowner policies has great significance.
Scott Burns, PhD, is a professor Emeritus of geology and past chair of the Department of Geology at Portland State University where he taught for over 20 years. He has a B.S. degree in chemistry and a M.S. degree in physical sciences from Stanford University and a PhD in geology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Dr. Burns specializes in environmental and engineering geology, geomorphology, soils, and quaternary geology. In Oregon, his projects involve landslides and land use, environmental cleanup of service stations, slope stability, earthquake hazard mapping, the Missoula Floods, paleosols, loess soil stratigraphy, radon generation from soils, and the distribution of heavy metals and trace elements in Oregon soils and alpine soil development. He has won many awards for outstanding teaching and his work in geology, including the Distinguished Faculty Award from the Portland State Alumni Association in 2001, the Richard Jahns Award for engineering geology from GSA and AEG in 2011, and the Outstanding Scientist for Oregon for 2014 from the Oregon Academy of Sciences. He has authored more than 100 publications and received more than 25 research grants. Dr. Burns actively helps local TV and radio stations and newspapers bring important geological news to the public and, for the past 43 years, has been studying wine and terroir—the relationship between wine, soils, geology, and climate.
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