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Oso Landslide: The Science of Risk

September 22, 2014

Dan Miller, a Seattle geomorphologist, has been warning about the risks of landslides in the Northwest for years.

Dan Miller has been studying and modeling the geology of the Northwest for years. His detailed analysis of the history of landslides in the area surrounding Oso, Washington, could have served as a warning for residents of Steelhead Haven and the Snohomish County officials who permitted ongoing development in an area that was prone to flooding and landslides. Miller is a quiet man, not one for arm-waving or strong statements, but when he heard about the landslide that killed 43 people near Oso, he said he was angry.  The science is available to enable everyone to know their level of risk from natural hazards but, he says, the information isn't being made available to people.

"You can’t pull out your cell phone and say, ‘What are the potential landslide hazards here?’ We have the tools. We have the data," Miller says. "We just have to put it all together, but then we have to get people to act on it, to incorporate it into decision making. People are still building in sites that we can identify as being potentially hazardous."

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Katie Campbell

Katie Campbell is the EarthFix managing editor for video and a seven-time Emmy® Award-winning producer/photographer at KCTS 9. She covers environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. Katie has earned national awards for her role in the documentaries Undamming the ElwhaCOAL and Glacier Caves, and is the 2015 winner of the prestigious Kavli Science Journalism Gold Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her story Is Alaska Safe for Sea Stars?

Katie grew up on a flower farm in southern Minnesota. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism at St. Catherine’s University, she worked as an enterprise reporter at daily newspapers in Minnesota and Florida. She holds a master’s degree in narrative journalism from the University of Oregon. Prior to joining KCTS 9 and EarthFix, Katie was an instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

 

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