This post serves to share my final thesis document and poster to the SGE and Lewis & Clark communities. Below is the abstract of my report as well as links to PDF files of my thesis and poster.
Link here to my thesis document
Link here to my thesis poster
Both Southern Chile and the Pacific Northwest sit at the edge of tectonically active subduction zones; these regions can be considered “risky geographies” due to the diversity of geologic hazards produced by this geologic setting. In Chile tremors are a daily occurrence and large earthquakes, and accompanying tsunamis, occur almost every 40 years. Additionally, the volcanic arc of the southern Andes is home to several of the most active and dangerous volcanoes on the South American continent. In the Pacific Northwest, the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami could occur any day and inhabitants fear “The Big One”. Although the last destructive eruption of any Cascade volcano was at Mount St. Helens in May 1980, planners and residents are already preparing for the possibility of Mount Rainier erupting. This paper is a comparative regional study of the Pacific Northwest, USA and South-central, Chile utilizing sociological data gathered in both regions by way of analogous surveys. In December 2012 data were gathered on the perceptions of volcanic and seismic hazards for 136 residents of four regions in southern Chile. Furthermore, mitigation practices and preparedness for a future disaster among inhabitants and planners were studied by way of formal interviews and site visits throughout the region. Several studies (Wood & Good, 2005; Davis et al., 2006) that provide quantitative analysis of risk perceptions in the Pacific Northwest were identified. The questionnaires used in the literature and the questionnaire used in Chile aided the design of a questionnaire used to gather risk perceptions of Pacific Northwest residents. In spring 2014 survey data were gathered from 40 residents of coastal and mountain communities in Oregon and Washington.
The intent of this paper is to determine how the inhabitants of these two regions adjust in similar and distinctive ways to the risk from local geologic hazards. Furthermore, a quantitative analysis of factors influencing resident’s perceptions of geohazards provides a framework for determining appropriate disaster policy. Results of the spatial and statistical methodology used in this research indicate that there is no spatial pattern to geohazard risk perceptions in Chile. Perceptions among Chileans of earthquake hazards were the highest relative to other hazards. Perceptions of both volcanic and tsunami hazards in Chile did not align with the actual spatial occurrence of the hazards. Concern with the collapse of buildings due to ground shaking takes less precedent over concern with secondary effects of earthquakes for Chileans. In the Pacific Northwest respondents held perceptions of seismic and volcanic risks that accurately reflected the physical vulnerability of their environment. The fact that overall perceptions of in the Pacific Northwest correspond to actual risk indicates that Oregon and Washington residents are attuned to actual hazard zones.