John Orcutt Testifies before House Science Committee on Tsunami Warning Plan

2.15.05 - The House Science Committee held a hearing January 26 to review the administration's two-year, $37.5-million proposal to deploy 32 new deep-ocean buoys, improve the seismic network, and expand tsunami preparedness programs. 

According to Richard M. Jones, The American Institute of Physics, who wrote about the hearing, "A central message of this two-hour hearing ... was that protecting the American public will require more than just the installation of more tsunami detection buoys." He mentions that John Orcutt, President of the American Geophysical Union, "testified about the importance of educating populations at risk about tsunami and what action to take when a warning is issued. Equally important, he said, was the commitment to maintain these buoys and associated equipment, an expense that within three or years will equal the initial cost of deployment."

John Orcutt with the
Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier in the background

Other witnesses at the hearing included USGS Director Charles "Chip" Groat; National Weather Service Director; Arthur Lerner-Lam, director of the Columbia [University] Center for Hazards and Risk Research; and Jay Wilson, coordinator of Earthquake and Tsunami Programs of Oregon Energy Management.

All supported the administration's proposal to deploy additional buoys in the Pacific and install them in the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea for the first time.  "There was concern, however," writes Jones, "that a more comprehensive plan is needed to educate populations-at-risk about tsunami and how to respond to a warning."

The administration plan also proposes to allocate $1.5 million for community inundation mapping and education outreach.

Also discussed was the need for greater funding of the National Science Foundation's Global Seismic Network.

This hearing anticipated a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on tsunami preparedness legislation held February 2.

Video is available at: .

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PDF: orcutt-testimony-jan05.pdf