Oso mudslide study authors win top geological prize

OSO — The authors of an important geology study of the Oso mudslide have won one of the Geological Society of America’s top prizes for their report.

University of Washington professors Joseph Wartman and David Montgomery were two of the authors of the so-called “GEER” report, a July 2014 study of the possible causes, behavior and implications of the slide.

The E.B. Burwell Jr. Award is the top prize given to an engineering geology paper each year.

GEER stands for Geotechical Extreme Events Reconnaissance, a name also given to an association of researchers who specialize in the rapid collection, analysis and dissemination of data from major geotechnical events.

The GEER report was the first significant scientific study of the 2014 Oso slide. Notably, it bucked the conventional wisdom that rushed to connect the slide’s cause to various parties, such as the logging industry or real estate developers. Instead the report found no clear cause of the reactivation of a 2006 landslide on the hillside.

The report outlined the complex nature of the hillside that collapsed March 22, 2014. It identified the pattern of earlier landslides along the banks of the North Fork Stillaguamish River, and listed 10 possible contributing factors to the slide, only one of which involved logging.

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