Central Washington University

Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program Wins Excellence Award

An education outreach program designed to help Pacific Northwest coast residents and visitors be safer has received the Award for Excellence for Educational Outreach to Schools. The Western States Seismic Policy Council presented the award to the Central Washington University, Oregon State University, and the University of Portland for their Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program (CEETEP). The program aims to improve Cascadia disaster resilience through educator professional development.

CEETEP is a program that was developed by a $625,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) EarthScope program (www.earthscope.org). Three institutions, Oregon State University, the lead institution, CWU, and the University of Portland trained educators in the seaside communities of Washington, Oregon, and northern California about the region’s earthquake and tsunami hazards and preparedness.

According to Beth Pratt-Sitaula, principal investigator for CWU and geological sciences research associate, there were 150 primary participants, whose outreach efforts reached more than 10,000 visitors in 2014 alone.

In addition to school children, the workshop participating educators also taught other seaside dwellers, including tourists and visitors to parks and museums, about these very real dangers and safety steps to take.

“This project expanded CWU’s already strong role in helping the Pacific Northwest be better prepared in the face of geohazards.” Pratt-Sitaula said “If we work together now, our communities may not have to face the level of catastrophe seen in the aftermath of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.”

The program, the Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program (CEETEP), trained teachers, park and museum interpreters, and disaster preparedness educators on the science of coastal geologic hazards. These participants then taught the science of earthquakes and tsunamis to students and visitors along the coast, as well as ways to prepare communities for these inevitable natural disasters.

From 2013 to 2015, CEETEP offered six workshops in Washington, Oregon, and northern California coastal communities. Participants learned about ongoing research on Cascadia plate tectonics, earthquakes and tsunamis, and about EarthScope’s role in investigating the geologic hazards in the region.

Emergency management outreach leaders trained participants on emergency preparedness actions, and the project developed digital animations, visualizations, and videos on earthquake and tsunami science and preparedness. The resource materials are available on the program’s website, ceetep.oregonstate.edu.

“The scope of the activities focused on the Pacific Northwest coastline, from the tip of Washington state to northern California,” Pratt-Sitaula said. “We are working on an extension of the grant to analyze the data and assess its effectiveness.

“But judging from the enthusiastic response and clear academic and optimism gains of our participants, we feel our program has been a success.”

For more information, contact Beth Pratt-Sitaula, at 509-899-3480, or e-mail psitaula@geology.cwu.edu

Photo: Action team works together on a community hazard inventory activity using maps of relative earthquake hazard (landslides, liquefaction, and amplification) and tsunami inundation. [Beth Pratt-Sitaula, CWU & UNAVCO]


Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu

March 9, 2016