Lori Dengler

Lori Dengler knows a thing or two about earthquakes and tsunamis. On the North Coast she's known for compiling what amounts to the "scholarly bible" of tsunami and earthquake data. From her office at Humboldt State, which coincidentally sits astride the Cascadia Subduction zone, she has laid the groundwork for California's most comprehensive tsunami mitigation plan. The effort, conducted by the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, includes more than 500 warning signs that define the local areas likely to be inundated in a tsunami event.

As a member of a worldwide network of geologists, Lori is alerted whenever the earth shakes. Her research in earthquake and tsunami mitigation has brought her international acclaim. She's the authority when it comes to analyzing a large event — and they can be very large, like the 9.3 magnitude quake that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004. Her expertise has led her to participate in international post-tsunami survey teams, including Crescent City (2006), Indonesia (2005), southern Peru (2001) and Papua New Guinea (1998).

As a testament to her hard work in the field of geology, Lori was named the Humboldt State University Scholar of the Year for 2008. Highlighting her commitment to her field, President Rollin Richmond spotlighted her reputation for saving lives across the globe. "HSU is indeed fortunate to have Dr. Dengler as a distinguished member of our faculty and our students are always eager to study with such an eminent scholar and field expert," he said.

If there were a league of earthquake superheroes, ready to save the world, Lori would be on it »

Thanks to modern telecommunications, moments after a quake Lori and a team of tsunami experts all over the world snap into action.

What does she do with that knowledge? In November 2006 when a relatively small tsunami hit the Crescent City harbor, about 90 minutes north of HSU, Lori and the Redwood Tsunami Workgroup jumped into action, analyzing the event, assessing the danger and communicating with local officials. It's the kind of work that can save lives and property on the California coast.

Using low-tech samples to tell a big story »

A peal, which is made with netting, like that from a screen door, and a rubber-cement-like adhesive, can show a very detailed picture. Here, Lori's holding a peal from a large swath of sand that was swept inland during the December 2004 tsunami event in Sumatra, Indonesia that took the lives of more than 200,000.

Leading efforts to bring comprehensive tsunami education and hazard reduction plan to Northern California »

Thanks to Lori Dengler and her colleagues at National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, state and local offices of Emergency Services and the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, Humboldt County is getting something it's never had before: a tsunami education program. As of summer 2008, evacuation routes, sirens and more than 500 signs posted throughout the North Coast are just the start of a tsunami hazard reduction program.

Lori Dengler
Professor of Geology