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Scientists map geological hazards along southern Oregon coast

COOS COUNTY, Ore. -- For the first time in more than three decades, scientists have mapped the geology of the southern Oregon coast.

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) has published geologic maps of the Coos County coast between Bandon, Coquille, and Sunset Bay. The last geologic mapping of coastal Coos County occurred in the 1970s. The new maps were made with the latest technology, as well as modern knowledge of the geologic hazards--such as a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, tsunami, and landslides--facing coastal communities.

New mapping of Oregon's coast increases understanding of geologic resources and hazards in an area that hasn't been mapped in decades.

The new maps -- published by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries -- show the Coos County coast between Bandon, Coquille and Sunset Bay.

The maps show geologic hazards such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

"For Oregon's south coast, knowing more about what terrain may be susceptible to landslides, as well as the nature of the seismic hazard, is especially important," says Tom Wiley, DOGAMI geologist. "This mapping and data are essential for studying these and other hazards."

Other dogami maps show areas that are hazard prone.

"You can actually type in your address and look at that, zoom in, and see if there's flood, landslide we all know there's earthquake hazards any place along the coast where we live," SWOCC geology professor Dr. Ron Metzger explains, "but also the tsunami issue ... so you can kind of get a sense of it in your neighborhood, or if you're looking to purchase property."

For the first time, the maps are available free of charge.

The new mapping is part of a multi-year project, started in 2012, to map the Oregon coast from the California border north to Coos Bay. The effort is supported in part by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program.

Beaches are the best places to get a glimpse of the area's geology, Wiley says. Check out state parks, including Short Acres State Park, where erosion has shaped a shore with sharp points of land, reefs, islands, and secluded coves that are dramatically different than any other area of the coast. The predominant rock unit, the Coaledo Formation, contains many marine fossils.

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