National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1995

Tsunami Education Planning Workshop, Findings and Recommendations

Good, J.W.

NOAA Tech. Memo. ERL PMEL-106, NTIS: PB95-195970, 41 pp (1995)

(Executive Summary)--The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is developing a plan to reduce tsunami hazards along the coasts of the United States, with particular emphasis on the west coast. Public education is a key component of the plan. To identify important public education needs, NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Oregon Sea Grant, the International Tsunami Information Center, and the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center jointly convened a Tsunami Education Planning Workshop on October 26-27, 1994 in Newport, Oregon.

The workshop group (Appendix A) concluded that major and minor population centers, coastal industry, ports and harbors, and other major infrastructure on the U.S. west coast are increasingly vulnerable to potentially destructive tsunamis. Further, they agreed that broad-based public education is one of the most effective means for reducing risks of loss of both life and property at risk of this hazard. Key recommendations are summarized below and detailed in the full report. Although the focus is on tsunamis, workshop participants stressed that these recommendations are but one component of an all-hazards education program that should include other related seismic hazards.

Recommended Actions

    1. Networking for Improved Education. A Cascadia Earthquake-Tsunami Information Network (CETIN) should be established to promote communication among agencies and organization interested in education about tsunamis and coastal earthquake hazards, and ultimately, to promote public education for effective tsunami preparedness, information sharing, and new information and materials development.

    2. Use of Internet. A west coast internet discussion group should be established to promote the kinds of interactions and information sharing that CETIN will need to foster the kind of education efforts anticipated. More advanced communications technology should be incorporated as available.

    3. CETIN Roles. CETIN activities should support, complement, and promote communication among existing centers of expertise, such as FEMA's Cascadia earthquake consortium, the Pacific and Alaska Tsunami Warning Centers, the International Tsunami Information Center, and other public and private groups dealing with related subject matter.

    4. Preliminary Inundation Mapping. Preliminary tsunami inundation maps should be produced for or by communities using a combination of relatively simple and proven techniques.

    5. Improved Inundation Mapping. In the longer term, more accurate mapping of tsunami inundation, runup height, and currents is needed, particularly in areas with significant and growing populations and active ports and harbors.

    6. Warning Message Improvement. NOAA should reevaluate the content of and procedures for tsunami warnings in light of the fact that many receivers (responders, media, etc.) of such information are ill-equipped to interpret them accurately; then develop and implement a broad-based education program.

    7. Warning Expert Availability. NOAA and/or states should establish single-point tsunami expert contacts for users requiring clear interpretations of tsunami warnings and related information.

    8. Information Clearinghouse. Existing tsunami (and earthquake) education materials should be identified, collected, cataloged, and disseminated to all potential users.

    9. Education Material Development and Needs. Identify outstanding tsunami (and earthquake) educational materials and approaches from other areas and tailor them to the needs of the Cascadia region after assessing local needs; examples include:

      • Video productions: CSZ earthquakes and tsunamis, west coast tsunami hazards, and earthquake and tsunami preparedness

      • "Speakers bureau" with regional experts on earthquake and tsunami hazards

      • Media packets on tsunami hazards, interpretation of tsunami warnings, expert contacts for interpretation of tsunami information, etc.

      • Public service announcements for radio and television

      • Model tsunami response plans for distant- and locally generated tsunamis should be developed for coastal facilities and communities

      • Telephone book information on earthquakes and tsunamis (as in Hawaii and British Columbia)

    10. Warning and Evacuation Signs. Universal tsunami hazard zone and evacuation route signs should be developed and used throughout the Cascadia region (and perhaps in other areas as well, such as Alaska, Hawaii, and other Pacific Basin areas).

    11. Quality Assurance. A tsunami education materials quality assurance function should be established and implemented in the region.

    12. Teacher and School Programs. Teacher training and school programs should be given high priority.

    13. Museums and Traveling Displays. Local and regional museums should develop, maintain, and circulate displays and exhibits on earthquake and tsunami awareness and preparedness.

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