Friday Transportation Seminar: An Agent-Based Evacuation Model to Improve Safety in the Cascadia Subduction Zone

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Friday, April 19, 2019, 11:30am to 1:00pm PDT
Haizhong Wang, Oregon State University
Karl Miller Center at PSU, 615 SW Harrison St., Room 465
PDH: 1 | AICP: 1

Friday Transportation Seminars at Portland State University have been a tradition since 2000. With the start of 2019, we're changing it up a bit! The seminar will be delivered 11:30 am (sharp) - 12:30 pm, with additional discussion over coffee and donuts (protect the planet—bring a mug!) from 12:30 to 1:00 pm. You can also watch online.


Miss the seminar or want a look back?


This seminar will present ongoing research into how integrated social, natural, and engineered systems can improve life safety under threat of multi-hazards. The targeted scenario is a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, threatening communities along 1,000 miles of the US Pacific Northwest coastline. 

Since the mid-1980’s scientific evidence has underscored the possibility of such an extreme event, and it has taken at least another decade or more before public attitudes and policy have begun to adapt to this new hazard. Life safety is a pressing issue for the near-field CSZ tsunami hazard for several reasons.

  • First, there is limited time from the start of the earthquake to when the tsunami arrives to the shore–20 to 30 minutes depending on location–compared to several hours for the case of a distant tsunami across the Pacific Ocean.
  • Second, evacuations will be self-initiated, relying on an individual’s perception of risk and knowledge of correct course of action.
  • And third, unlike other natural disasters such as river floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes which are more easily imagined, the rarity of tsunami events in the U.S. make the tsunami scenario difficult to visualize.

This seminar will present the results of an agent-based tsunami evacuation model to explore how decisions on when to leave, route choice, mode (on foot or by car) and unplanned disruptions affect life safety. This work is applied to case studies: one in Seaside, Oregon and a second at Oregon's South Beach State Park. These projects developed close collaboration with a number of organizations responsible for public safety during the response to extreme natural hazards, including the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Parks and Recreation, Oregon Sea Grant, and internationally.


  • A magnitude 9 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and near-field tsunami will happen in the future.
  • There is only 20-30 minutes of warning time for coastal communities to respond to the tsunami hazard.
  • We will not be able to prevent this event, but we can help prepare our communities to be ready for this event.
  • Real impacts on community and people will be what matters.


Haizhong Wang, Oregon State University

Dr. Haizhong Wang is an Associate Professor of Transportation Engineering within the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. Dr. Wang received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Applied Mathematics and Civil Engineering (Transportation), and B.S. and M.S. degrees from Hebei University of Technology and Beijing University of Technology, China. Dr. Wang’s research interests include (1) Interdisciplinary Disaster Resilience: use the ABM framework to evaluate the impacts of heterogeneous decision-making behavior on life safety under unplanned infrastructure network disruptions; (2) Critical Resilient Interdependent Lifeline and Infrastructure Networks: system resilience characteristics and dependency/interdependency modeling; (3) Heterogeneous Traffic Flow Modeling and Simulation: deterministic and stochastic fundamental diagram of traffic flow, hysteresis, and stochastic capacity analysis; and (4) Connected Automated Vehicle (CAV): mobility and safety analysis in a mixed traffic flow environment under varying levels of market penetrations. 


This 60-minute seminar is eligible for 1 hour of professional development credit for AICP (see our provider summary). We provide an electronic attendance certificate for other types of certification maintenance.


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Haizhong Wang is a visiting scholar, brought to Portland State University with support from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC). The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and young professionals through education.