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Staff Profiles -


George on the Salmon River near Lincoln CityGeorge R. Priest
Geologist

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries,
Coastal Field Office
313 SW 2nd, Suite D
Newport OR 97365

Phone: (541) 574-6642
Fax: (541) 265-5241

george.priest@state.or.us

Active and Recently Completed Projects

  • Tsunami evacuation analyses for Cannon Beach and Seaside-Gearhart (in progress)
  • Statewide maritime guidance for tsunami events (in progress)
  • Statewide tsunami inundation mapping (completed 2013)

Background Information

1979 – Present Geologist, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
1978 – 1979 Assistant Professor of Geology, Portland State University
1975 – 1978 Ph.D., Geology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
1974 – 1975 Mineral Exploration Geologist, Cyprus Mines Corporation
1971 – 1974 M.Sc, Geology, Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevad
1967 – 1971 B.Sc, Geology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Synthesis of Applied Research Expertise

My applied research expertise and interests are mostly related to tsunami hazard assessment and geology of subduction zones, particularly shallow part of the subduction zone relevant to tsunami hazards and the deep part relevant to volcanic and tectonic processes of the volcanic arc. My basic training in igneous petrology, volcanic stratigraphy, and hydrothermal mineral deposits was focused in the 1980s on geothermal energy assessment and heat flow mapping of the State of Oregon. I am also a registered engineering geologist in the Oregon and led a 5-year monitoring study of a large translational bedrock landslide on the Oregon coast. Some highlights of my research areas are given below:

Tsunami Hazard Assessment

I have led the Oregon tsunami hazard assessment effort for much of the time since its inception on the early 1990’s and am a voting member representing Oregon on the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP), a state-federal partnership. Working closely with tsunami and fault modelers, I specified the geological parameters for subduction zone source models used for Oregon tsunami inundation, evacuation, and regulatory maps published between 1995 and 2003(http://www.oregongeology.org/tsuclearinghouse/pubs-regmaps.htm).When substantial funding became available with passage of the Tsunami Warning and Education Act, I led scientific team effort aimed at a parametric analysis of tsunami sources for locally generated tsunamis on the northern Oregon coast. Unlike most similar efforts internationally, this analysis was constrained by the 10,000-year geologic record Cascadia subduction zone tsunamis and earthquakes (DOGAMI Special Paper 41). The approach thus took into account extreme events not evident from geophysical analysis alone, and thus avoided the underestimation of hazard that plagued the Japanese in the 2011 Tohoku event. This work was published in Natural Hazards in 2009 (http://www.academia.edu/2336654/Confidence_levels_for_tsunami-inundation_limits_in_northern_Oregon_inferred_from_a_10_000-year_history_of_great_earthquakes_at_the_Cascadia_subduction_zone) and was followed by a similar analysis of the southern Oregon coast led by Dr. Rob Witter in which I assisted and advised (DOGAMI Special Paper 43; http://geosphere.gsapubs.org/content/9/6/1783.abstract). Tsunami inundation maps (http://www.oregongeology.org/tsuclearinghouse/pubs-inumaps.htm; DOGAMI Open-File Report O-13-19) and derivative evacuation maps (http://www.oregongeology.org/tsuclearinghouse/pubs-evacbro.htm) have been completed for the coast using subduction zone earthquake sources developed from this research and the state-of-art tsunami model, SELFE, developed by Dr. Joseph Zhang now of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00024-008-0424-7).

Education and Outreach

In collaboration with Oregon Emergency Management (OEM), I wrote a 2004 research proposal to NTHMP aimed at understanding which outreach techniques work best to increase tsunami hazard awareness and induce preparedness action. The resulting support allowed graduate student Darci Connor to conduct a pilot study of Seaside, Oregon, the most vulnerable town to tsunamis in Oregon. Darci was guided by a steering committee consisting of myself, Jay Wilson of OEM, and local officials. The results of this systematic investigation (http://www.oregongeology.org/sub/pub&data/summaries/overview-intro-OFR-O-05-10.pdf) are nationally recognized by NTHMP and set priorities for all tsunami outreach and education projects in Oregon. I use this work and other social science research to guide my outreach work on the Oregon coast. The ultimate objective of all of these efforts is to build a culture of preparedness and response similar to the oral traditions that have made native populations resilient to natural hazards. My own Native American background (Tlingit tribe) has been helpful in this regard.

Landslide Research

I was principal investigator on a research grant from the Federal Highway Administration through Oregon Department of Transportation awarded to DOGAMI in 2002 to do a five-year monitoring study of the Johnson Creek Landslide. A principal finding of the study (DOGAMI Special Paper 40) was that dewatering of this slide would likely prevent destabilization caused by “waves” of water pressure traveling down the axis of the slide after each rainfall event. The journal version of this paper was published in 2012 (http://eeg.geoscienceworld.org/content/17/4/315), receiving the best paper award from the American Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists. The USGS considers the Johnson Creek Landslide to be a national research priority and is continuing to monitor it and post data to their website (http://landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/johnson_creek/).

Volcano-Tectonic and Related Geothermal Research

A decade of geologic mapping and heat flow analysis of the Cascade volcanic arc in the 1980’s resulted in a Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) paper published in 1990 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JB095iB12p19583/references). This paper is still a fundamental reference for the volcanic and tectonic evolution of the central Cascade volcanic arc and was featured in a keynote talk to the GeoPRISMS/EarthScope workshop held in Portland, Oregon in 2012 (http://www.geoprisms.org/images/stories/documents/Cascadia/presentations/thursday/Grunder.pdf). A similar paper summarizing detailed geologic mapping and petrologic analysis of the southern Oregon Cascade arc was published in 2013 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrb.50290/abstract). These two papers provide a holistic model for generation of magma from both the Cascadia subduction zone and from crustal extension of the Basin and Range. Collaborative work with Dr. David Blackwell of Southern Methodist University in the 1980’s resulted in a better understanding of the source of a regional heat flow anomaly that encompasses both the active and inactive part of the Cascade arc (DOGAMI Special Paper 15; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JB095iB12p19475/abstract). The high amplitude and regional extent of this anomaly have critical implications for national strategic reserves of geothermal energy.

Key Peer-Reviewed Papers

Priest, G.R., Zhang, Y.J., Witter, R.C., Wang, K., Goldfinger, C., and Stimely, L., 2014, Tsunami impact to Washington and northern Oregon from segment ruptures on the southern Cascadia subduction zone. Natural Hazards. DOI 10.1007/s11069-014-1041-7.

Witter, R. C., Y. Zhang, K. Wang, G.R. Priest, C. Goldfinger, L. L. Stimely, J. T. English, and P. A. Ferro, 2013, Simulated tsunami inundation for a range of Cascadia megathrust earthquake scenarios at Bandon, Oregon, USA. Geosphere, v. 9, p. 1783-1803.

Priest, G.R., Hladky, F., Mertzman, S., and Wiley T., 2013, Volcanic signature of Basin and Range extension on the shrinking Cascade arc, Klamath Falls-Keno area, Oregon. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 118.8: 4013-4038.

Priest, G.R., Schulz, W.H., Ellis, W.L., Allan, J.A., Niem, A.R., and Niem, W.A., 2012, Landslide stability: Role of rainfall-induced laterally propagating pore pressure waves: Geological Society of America, Environmental and Engineering Geoscience, DOI 10.2113/gseegeosci.17.4.315 (Awarded Best Paper of 2012 by Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists).

Zhang, Y., Witter, R.W. and Priest, G.R., 2011, Tsunami-Tide Interaction in 1964 Prince William Sound Tsunami, Ocean Modelling, 40, 246-259.

Priest, G.R., Goldfinger, C., Wang, K., Witter, R.C., Zhang, Y.J., and Baptista, A.M., 2009, Confidence levels for tsunami-inundation limits in northern Oregon inferred from a 10,000-year history of great earthquakes at the Cascadia subduction zone: Natural Hazards, DOI 10.1007/s11069-009-9453-5.

Priest, G.R., Myers, E., Baptista, A.M., Fleuck, P., Wang, K., and Peterson, C.D., 2000, Source simulation for tsunamis: lessons learned from fault rupture modeling of the Cascadia subduction zone, North America. Science of Tsunami Hazards, 18, 77-106. http://library.lanl.gov/tsunami/ts182.pdf

Rogers, A.M., Walsh, T.J., Kockelman, W.J., and Priest, G.R., 1996, Earthquake hazards in the Pacific Northwest _ An overview in Rogers, A.M., Walsh, T.J., Kocklelman, W.J., and Priest, G.R., eds., Assessing earthquake hazards and reducing risk in the Pacific Northwest: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1560, p.1-54.

Blackwell, D.D., and Priest, G.R., 1996, Comment on S.E. Ingebritsen, M.A. Scholl, and D.R. Sherrod, Heat flow from four research holes in the Western Cascades, Oregon", Geothermics, 25, 703-713.

Blackwell, D.D., and Priest, G.R., 1996, Comment on "Rates and patterns of groundwater flow in the Cascade Range volcanic arc and the effect on subsurface temperatures" by S.E. Ingebritsen, D.R Sherrod, and R.H. Mariner, J. Geophys Res., 101, 17,561-17,568.

Baptista, A.M., Priest, G.R., and Murty, T.S., 1993, Field Survey of the 1992 Nicaragua Tsunami: Marine Geodesy, Vol. 16(2).

Blackwell, D.D., Steele, J.L., Frohme, M.K., Murphey, C.F., Priest, G.R., and Black, G.L., 1990, Heat flow in the Oregon Cascade Range and its correlation with regional gravity, Curie Point depths, and geology: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 95, no. B12, p. 19,475-19,493.

Priest, G.R., 1990, Volcanic and tectonic evolution of the Cascade volcanic arc, central Oregon: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 95, no. B12, p. 19,583-19,599.

Key State of Oregon Papers

Priest, G.R., Witter, R.C., Y. Zhang, Y., Wang, K., Goldfinger, C., Stimely, L.L., English, J.T., Pickner, S.G., Hughes, K.L.B., Wille, T.E., and Smith, R.L., 2013, Tsunami inundation scenarios for Oregon. Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-13-19, 14 p.

R. C. Witter, Y. Zhang, K. Wang, G.R. Priest, C. Goldfinger, L. L. Stimely, J. T. English, and P. A. Ferro, 2011, Simulating tsunami inundation at Bandon, Coos County, Oregon, using hypothetical Cascadia and Alaska earthquake scenarios: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Special Paper 43.

Priest, G.R., Goldfinger, C., Wang, K., Witter, R.C., Zhang, Y., and Baptista, A.M., 2009, Tsunami hazard assessment of the northern Oregon coast: A multi-deterministic approach tested at Cannon Beach, Oregon: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Special Paper, 41, 47 p.

Priest, G.R., Allen, J.C., Niem, A.R., and Niem, W.A. , 2008, Johnson Creek Landslide Research Project, Lincoln County, Oregon: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Special Paper 40.

Priest, G.R., Allan, J.C., Sonnevil, R., 2004, Evaluation of Coastal Erosion Hazard Zones from Sisters Rock to North Gold Beach, Curry Co., Oregon: Technical report to Curry County: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-04-20, on CD.

Priest, G.R., and Allan, J.C., 2004, Evaluation of coastal erosion hazard zones along dune and bluff backed shorelines in Lincoln County, Oregon: Cascade Head to Seal Rock, Technical Report to Lincoln County: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Open-File Report O-04-09, on CD.

Allan, J.C., and Priest, G.R., 2001, Evaluation of coastal erosion hazard zones along the dune and bluff backed shorelines in Tillamook County, Oregon, Cascade Head to Cape Falcon, Preliminary Technical Report to Tillamook County: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-01-03, 120 p., on CD.

Allan, J.C., and Priest, G.R., 2001, Coastal erosion hazard zones along Clatsop Plains, OR: Gearhart to Fort Stevens, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-01-04, CD.

Priest, G.R., Baptista, A.M., Fleuck, P., Wang, K., Kamphaus, R.A., and Peterson, C.D., 1997, Cascadia subduction zone tsunamis: hazard mapping at Yaquina Bay, Oregon: Final technical report to the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-97-34, 144 p.

Priest, G.R., 1995, Explanation of mapping methods and use of the tsunami hazard maps of the Oregon coast: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-95-67, 95 p.

Priest, G.R., Baptista, A.M., Qi, M., Peterson, C.D., and Darienzo, M.E., 1995, Simplified explanation of the tsunami hazard map of the Siletz Bay area, Lincoln County, Oregon in Priest, G.R., ed., Explanation of mapping methods and use of the tsunami hazard map of the Siletz Bay area, Lincoln County, Oregon: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report O-96-5, p. 1-20.

Priest, G.R., and Vogt, B.F., eds., 1983, Geology and geothermal resources of the central Oregon Cascade Range: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Special Paper 15, 123 p., 3 maps.

Priest, G.R., Vogt, B.F., and Black, G.L., eds., 1983, Survey of potential geothermal exploration sites at Newberry Volcano, Deschutes County, Oregon: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Open-File Report 0-83-3, 174 p.

Priest, G.R., Beeson, M.H., Gannett, M.W., and Berri, D.A., 1982, Geology, geochemistry, and geothermal resources of the Old Maid Flat area, Oregon, in Priest, G.R., and Vogt, B.F., Geology and geothermal resources of the Mount Hood area, Oregon: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Special Paper 14, p. 16-30.



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Fossils, Minerals & Gems | Hazards | Field Offices | News and Events
Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation | Oil, Gas and Geothermal
Nature of the Northwest Information Center | State of Oregon website

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 965, Portland, OR 97232-2162
(971) 673-1555, FAX (971) 673-1562
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