Stephen L Slaughter

As the Landslide Response Coordinator, Stephen leads international landslide capacity building and emergency response for domestic and international landslides though an agreement between USGS and USAIDs Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

Biography

Stephen coordinates USGS-BHA-funded projects related to international landslide capacity building and emergency response. The goal of technical capacity-building is to assist foreign partners, upon their request, with landslide hazards identification and training to support them as they take the lead in mitigating these hazards in their respective countries. Stephen also assists in domestic landslide emergency response, coordinating with first responders to provide geologic hazard situational awareness. Stephen started at the USGS in 2019 and the previous 15 years he worked at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), also in landslide hazards. There he began his hazards career evaluating forest management proposals for potential landslide hazards and assessing risks from recent landslides. After seven years, he transferred to the Washington State Geological Survey (WGS and part of WDNR) geologic hazards program. There he worked on seismically induce landslide hazard mapping, liquefaction hazard mapping, and landslide emergency response. In 2014, the SR530 “Oso” Landslide took the life of 43 people and led to a five-week emergency response. During the first three weeks of the geologic response, Stephen worked with Incident Command staff and coordinated geologists from county, state, and federal agencies. These geologists monitored the landslide for potential reactivation in order to protect first responders working on the landslide deposits. This tragedy helped elected officials recognize that landslides are a significant hazard in Washington state and the legislature funded the WGS to start a Landslide Hazards Program (LHP). Stephen led the LHP for the first four years, working as a team to develop a landslide inventory protocol, a homeowner’s guide to landslides, and publishing four county-wide mapping projects. Stephen earned a BS in geology from Western Washington University and a MS in geology from Central Washington University. In his nearly 20 years of working on landslides, Stephen has walked on hundreds of landslides. Only a few were moving.

Highlights from his geology career include landslide emergency response for four incidents, working under the Incident Command System. Working on several USFS Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams assessing federal lands for post-wildfire debris flow hazards. From that experience, he recognized that state and private lands were excluded from these analyses, so he used experiences from the BAER team to develop a team of state geologists that perform post-wildfire debris flow assessments for non-Federal lands. Stephen has spoke at dozens of public events on landslides and geologic hazards, sparking his passion for landslide education and outreach. Stephen sometimes regrets that these talks can be a bit depressing for the audience, especially when considering the number of geologic hazards present in Washington State.