Slip Sliding Away

April 24, 2009

Today I am still anxiously waiting for the final budget from the legislature to be finalized.  The budget itself, although sounding painful for the general public and poor, doesn’t directly affect my position, although once it passes, the management at DNR will release which people stay and which will be shown the door.  Geologic Hazards has been in the cross hairs for quite awhile, being targeted by the Governor’s budget.  Not only would this mean my position would probably be terminated or I would be shuffled around, but Washington State wouldn’t have anyone to document or respond to future landslide events.

I did a quick calculation as to how much land mass is covered by landslides, mapped within our landslide database.  It is about 1.5-2%, or roughly 1,000-1,400 sq mi (2,800-3,700 sq km), and that is all we know about.  Each year, landslides cause tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.  Washington is covered in landslides, from small itsy bitsy soil sluffs to massive landslides that are some of the largest terrestrial mega landslides in the world (Malaga or Stemilt Landslide).  In the good ol’ USA, we are in the top 10 most unstable states and if records were better kept, I would say top 5.

So, where does that put us?  The DNR and specifically the Washington Geological Survey is one of the only agencies in Washington State studying and recording landslide data.  We have a staff of 6 people in Geologic Hazards, 2 work on landslides full time.  Someday, it would be nice to see landslides taken seriously as a major geologic hazard in Washington State.

So, here is a song to start off this blog:

And you thought it would be Paul Simon…

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