Distinguished Lecture by Tom O’Rourke “The New Normal for Natural Disasters”

The PEER Center and the EERI Northern California Chapter are pleased to host the EERI distinguished lecture “The New Normal for Natural Disasters” by Professor Tom O’Rourke from Cornell University.


Date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 
Location: Room 502 Davis Hall (5th floor) at University of California, Berkeley. Directions to Davis Hall
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Speaker: Tom O’Rourke, Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering, Cornell University

Who should attend this lecture?
All researchers, engineers, students, and others interested in earthquake engineering are encouraged to attend. Consulting firms are encouraged to host this lecture as a “brown-bag” lunch session in your office.

The effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are discussed with respect to their impact on regional and international economics, national practices for security and recovery, and worldwide energy policy. The severity and far-ranging consequences of these extreme events have established in effect a new normal for natural disasters. The lecture explains why these events require a fundamental re-thinking of the way we evaluate the risks of extreme events, as well as define and protect critical infrastructure. Examples of critical infrastructure at risk are discussed with respect to earthquake effects on the water supply of Southern California and hurricane effects on New York City. Selective lessons learned from recent earthquakes are described with respect to mitigation measures. To address the need for protection against rare, high consequence events with limited financial resources, a strategy for improving infrastructure resilience is proposed.

Speaker Bio
Tom O’Rourke is the Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received a number of distinctions for his research and teaching, some of which are ASTM C.A. Hogentogler Award, ASCE Collingwood, Huber Research, C. Martin Duke, Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering, and Ralph B. Peck Awards, and the British ICE Trevithick Prize. He gave the 2009 Rankine Lecture. He served as President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and as a member of the US National Science Foundation Engineering Advisory Committee. He authored or co-authored over 350 technical publications. His research interests cover geotechnical engineering, earthquake engineering, underground construction technologies, engineering for large, geographically distributed systems, and geographic information technologies and database management. He is a member of the NIST Advisory Committee for Earthquake Hazards Reduction. He has served as chair or member of the consulting boards of many large civil construction projects, as well as the peer reviews for projects associated with highway, rapid transit, water supply, and energy distribution systems.

The workshop is being organized by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) and co-hosted by the EERI Northern California Chapter.