2016 E.B. Burwell, Jr. Award

Presented to:

Jeffrey R. Keaton
Jeffrey R. Keaton

along with
Joseph Wartman, Scott A. Anderson, Jean Benot, John Delachapelle, Robert B. Gilbert, and David R. Montgomery


“The 22 March 2014 Oso Landslide, Snohomish County, Washington: Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance”


Citation by William J. Burns

On March 22, 2014, one of the worst landslide disasters in recent U.S. history occurred in the state of Washington. The National Science Foundation–sponsored Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association formed a team that went out 8 weeks after the event to document conditions and collect perishable field data.

The 22 March 2014 Oso Landslide, Snohomish County, Washington report (2014, http://www.geerassociation.org) was selected for the 2016 Burwell Award because of its comprehensive nature and high technical level. The report’s authors—Jeffrey R. Keaton, Joseph Wartman, Scott A. Anderson, Jean Benoît, John deLaChapelle, Robert Gilbert, and David R. Montgomery—did an exceptional job summarizing the event and made the report available within two months following four days of intensive field work!

An event like the Oso Landslide enables a scientific leap in applied geology. The authors have decades of experience, which translated into the meticulous report capturing this extreme event. This is an outstanding publication, meeting the criteria of a publication that advances knowledge in the engineering geology field.

top2016 E.B. Burwell, Jr., Award — Response by the Authors

Edward Burwell, Jr., was the first chief geologist of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, an agency whose primary mission is to provide engineering services to the nation. We are therefore deeply honored that the Geological Society of America has presented the 2016 Burwell Award to the three geotechnical engineers, two geologists, and two geologist-engineers who formed the Oso Landslide Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance, or GEER, investigation team. The 2014 Oso Landslide Report demonstrates what is achievable when geologists and engineers work together side-by-side and collaboratively in the field, the laboratory, and the office.

Many others helped make the GEER Oso investigation successful, including an engineer and a geologist on the staff from the Snohomish County Department of Public Works, who provided us with valuable information and spent close to a week in the field with our team. We thank the leadership and members of GEER, who have created a community of post-disaster geotechnical investigation professionals dedicated to timely collection and dissemination of findings, and open release of documented data. Finally, we appreciate the National Science Foundation’s support of and ongoing commitment to rapid reconnaissance investigations.