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USGS Open-File Report 2013–1170 and CGS Special Report 229, Chapter L

Tsunami Mitigation and Preparedness Activities in California

By Rick Wilson and Kevin Miller

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.3 MB)Abstract

Scenario planning and final results associated with the U.S. Geological Survey Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) tsunami project are providing great benefits to the ongoing tsunami risk-reduction efforts of the California Tsunami Preparedness and Hazard Mitigation Program. This program, led by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the California Geological Survey, works with coastal communities to improve tsunami preparedness and mitigation at the local level through various efforts, such as improving tsunami hazard analysis, establishing consistent evacuation communications and planning, and leveraging national risk-reduction efforts associated with the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.

The recent 2010 Chilean and 2011 Tohoku tsunamis did not cause notable inundation of dry land in California, but dozens of harbors sustained damages totaling nearly $100 million (Wilson and others, 2012a). Estimates associated with the SAFRR distant tsunami scenario suggest socioeconomic and environmental losses could be even larger. Information gathered from these events and the SAFRR scenario is guiding the development and implementation of new strategies for emergency response, maritime planning, and land-use planning, including

  • a reassessment of the tsunami threat along the California coast;
  • scenario-specific, tsunami evacuation “playbook” maps and guidance;
  • in-harbor hazard maps and offshore safety zones for potential boat evacuation during future distant source events;
  • “probability-based” products for land-use planning under the California Seismic Hazard Mapping Act; and
  • an expansion of real-time and post-tsunami field reconnaissance teams and information sharing through a state-wide clearinghouse.

    The state tsunami program has benefitted greatly from participation in the SAFRR tsunami scenario process, and hopes to continue this relationship with the U.S. Geological Survey to help improve tsunami preparedness in California.

First posted September 3, 2013

For more information contact:

U.S. Geological Survey
Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR)

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Suggested citation:

Wilson, R., and Miller, K., 2013, Tsunami mitigation and preparedness activities in California, chap. L in Ross, S.L., and Jones, L.M., eds., The SAFRR (Science Application for Risk Reduction) Tsunami Scenario: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1170, 10 p.,




California Tsunami Preparedness and Hazard Mitigation Program

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