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Dawn Levy, News Service (650) 725-1944; e-mail:

Risk experts hold international summit aimed at mitigating Pacific Rim disasters

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and other natural disasters are daily threats to the nearly one-third of the world's population that lives within a day's drive of the Pacific Ocean. The far-reaching effects of such Pacific Rim disasters was the subject of an international summit at Stanford Aug. 1-3.

"Crowding the Rim" attracted about 150 experts from 50 nations. It spurred dialogue between natural and social scientists as well as decision makers in industry, finance, the military, emergency management and health care.

Donald Kennedy, former Stanford president and current editor of Science magazine, welcomed attendees, and Franklin Orr, dean of the School of Earth Sciences, delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included Mary Lou Zoback, chief scientist of the U.S. Geological Survey's earthquake hazards team; James Lee Witt, former director of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency; Ken Courtis, vice president for Asia, Goldman Sachs; and James Losi, president of the Charles Schwab Corporation Foundation. A highlight was an address by 92-year-old Michel T. Halbouty, president of Michel T. Halbouty Engineering Co. and founder of the Circum-Pacific Council, who for more than 70 years has drilled for oil in hazardous regions.

Some conference participants shared news of an Internet-based geographical information system called HAZPAC to depict Pacific Rim data on hazards, demographics and infrastructure. Others showcased "RIM-SIM," an interactive simulation, based on hypothetical countries, illustrating the ripple effects of disasters and the importance of collaborative problem solving among nations.


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