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Nathan Wood


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Short Biography

Nate Wood is a research geographer with the USGS Western Geographic Science Center and is co-located at the USGS Oregon Water Science Center in Portland, Oregon. He has conducted research and written extensively on community vulnerability to natural hazards, such as tsunami threats to Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Alaska, volcanic lahars from Mount Rainier (Washington), and coastal hazards in Florida and the Pacific Northwest.

He is on the Board of Directors for the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup and editorial boards for the Natural Hazards Review, the Journal of Applied Volcanology, and the Journal of Geography and Natural Disasters. He recently completed work on a U.S. National Research Council committee to review the U.S. tsunami warning system and the nation's preparedness efforts. Additional information can be found at LinkedIn ( and a project overview (

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Wilson, R., Wood, N., Kong, L., Shulters, M., Richards, K., Dunbar, P., Tamura, G., and Young, E., 2015, A protocol for coordinating post-tsunami field reconnaissance efforts in the USA, Natural Hazards, 75(3): 2153-2165. [Link]

Wood, N., and Peters, J., 2015, Variations in population vulnerability to tectonic and landslide-related tsunami hazards in Alaska, Natural Hazards, 75(2): 1811-1831 [Link]

Baron, H., Ruggiero, P., Wood, N., Harris, E., Allan, J., Komar, P., Corcoran, P., 2015, Incorporating climate change and morphological uncertainty into coastal change hazard assessments, Natural Hazards, 75(3): 2081-2102 [Link]

Schmidtlein, M., and Wood, N., 2015, Sensitivity to tsunami evacuation modeling to direction and land cover assumptions, Applied Geography, 56: 154-163. [Link]

Diefenbach, A., Wood, N., and Ewert, J., 2015, Variations in community exposure to lahar hazards from multiple volcanoes in Washington State (USA), Journal of Applied Volcanology, 4:4 [Link]

Wood, N., Schmidtlein, M., and Peters, J., 2014, Changes in population evacuation potential for tsunami hazards in Seward, Alaska, since the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, Natural Hazards, 70:1031-1053. [Link]

Wood, N., Jones, J., Schelling, J., and Schmidtlein, M., 2014, Tsunami vertical-evacuation planning in the U.S. Pacific Northwest as a geospatial, multi-criteria decision problem, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 9, 68-83. [Link]

Wood, N., Ratliff, J., Schelling, J., and Weaver, C., 2014, Comparing population exposure to multiple Washington earthquake scenarios for prioritizing loss estimation studies, Applied Geography, 52, 191-203 [Link]

Fraser, S., Wood, N., Johnston, D., Leonard, G., Greening, P., and Rossetto, T., 2014, Variable population exposure and distributed travel speeds in least-cost tsunami evacuation modelling, Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Sciences, 14, 2975-2991. DOI:10.5194/nhess-14-2975-2014, 2014. [Link]

Jones, J.M., Ng, P., Wood, N.J., 2014, The pedestrian evacuation analyst—Geographic information systems software for modeling hazard evacuation potential: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. C9, 25 p. [Link]

Pierson, T., Wood, N., and Driedger C., 2014, Reducing risk from lahar hazards: concepts, case studies, and roles for scientists. Journal of Applied Volcanology, 3:16. [Link]

Wood, N., Ratliff, J., and Peters, J., 2013. Community exposure to tsunami hazards in California. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5222, iv, 49 p. [Link]

Mathie, A., and Wood, N., 2013. Residential and service-population exposure to multiple natural hazards in the Mount Hood region of Clackamas County, Oregon. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1073, iv, 48 p. [Link]

Wood, N., Ratliff, J., Peters, J., and Shoaf, K., 2013, Population vulnerability and evacuation challenges in California for the SAFRR tsunami scenario, chap. I in Ross, Stephanie L. and Jones, Lucile M., eds., The SAFRR (Science Application for Risk Reduction) Tsunami Scenario: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1170, 53 p. [Link]

Wood, N., and Schmidtlein, M., 2013, Community variations in population exposure to near-field tsunami hazards as a function of pedestrian travel time to safety, Natural Hazards, 65 (3): 1603-1628 [Link]

Coletti, A., Howe, P., Yarnal, B., and Wood, N., 2013, A support system for assessing local vulnerability to weather and climate, Natural Hazards, 65 (1): 999-1008 [Link]

Howe, P., Yarnal, B., Coletti, A., and Wood, N., 2013, The participatory vulnerability scoping diagram - deliberative risk ranking for community water systems, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 103 (2), 343-352. [Link]

Wood, N., and Schmidtlein, M., 2012, Anisotropic path modeling to assess pedestrian-evacuation potential from Cascadia-related tsunamis in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Natural Hazards, 62 (2), 275-300 [Link]

Wood, N., and Ratliff, J., 2011. Population and business exposure to twenty scenario earthquakes in the State of Washington. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1016, v, 13 p. [Link]

Wood, N., 2011. Understanding risk and resilience to natural hazards. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3008, 2 p. [Link]

Wood, N., 2011, California's tsunami threat--Japan's disaster serves as a reminder to the West Coast to be prepared, Los Angeles Times, Opinion-Editorial section, March 17, 2011, A17 [Link]

Frazier, T., Wood, N., Yarnal, B., and D. Bauer, 2010, Influence of potential sea level rise on societal vulnerability to hurricane storm-surge hazards, Sarasota County, Florida, Applied Geography, 30(4), 490-505 [Link]

Frazier, T., Wood, N., and Yarnal, B., 2010, Stakeholder perspectives on land-use strategies for adapting to climate-change-enhanced coastal hazards: Sarasota, Florida, Applied Geography, 30 (4), 506-517 [Link]

Wood, N., Burton, C., and Cutter, S., 2010, Community variations in social vulnerability to Cascadia-related tsunamis in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Natural Hazards, 52(2), 369-389. [Link]

National Research Council, Committee on the Review of the Tsunami Warning and Forecast System and Overview of the Nation's Tsunami Preparedness, Ocean Studies Board, Earth and Life Studies. Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010. Committee members: John A. Orcutt (Chair), Martha R. Grabowski (co-Chair), Brian Atwater, Ann Bostrom, George Crawford, Richard K. Eisner, Jian Lin, Hugh B. Milburn, Dennis S. Miletti, Costas E. Synolakis, Nathan J. Wood, Harry Yeh, Claudia Mengelt (staff). [Link]

Wood, N., and Soulard, C., 2009. Community Exposure to Lahar Hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5211, iv, 27 p. [Link]

Wood, N., and Soulard, C., 2009, Variations in population exposure and sensitivity to lahar hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 188, 367–378. [Link]

Wood, N., 2009, Tsunami exposure estimation with land-cover data: Oregon and the Cascadia subduction zone, Applied Geography 29, 158-170. [Link]

Frazier, T., Wood, N., and Yarnal, B., 2009, A framework for using GIS and stakeholder input to assess vulnerability to coastal-inundation hazards: a case study from Sarasota County, Florida, In U. Paleo (ed.), Building safer communities—risk governance, spatial planning and responses to natural hazards, NATO Science for Peace and Security Series, 58, Amsterdam: IOS Press, pp. 226-245.

Wood, N., 2008. Amount and Percentage of Current Societal Assets in Areas on Kaua'i, Hawai'i, within the 1992 Hurricane 'Iniki Storm-Surge Inundation Zone. Geological Survey (U.S.) Open-File Report 2008-1280, iii, 12 p. [Link]

Wood, N., and Soulard, C., 2008. Variations in Community Exposure and Sensitivity to Tsunami Hazards on the Open-Ocean and Strait of Juan de Fuca Coasts of Washington. Geological Survey (U.S.) Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5004, Report: vi, 34 p.; Data Folder [Link]

Wood, N., 2007. Variations in City Exposure and Sensitivity to Tsunami Hazards in Oregon. Geological Survey (U.S.) Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5283, Report: iv, 37 p.; Data [Link]

Wood, N., Church, A., Frazier, T., Yarnal, B., 2007. Variations in Community Exposure and Sensitivity to Tsunami Hazards in the State of Hawai'i. Geological Survey (U.S.) Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5208, Report: iv, 38 p.; Database [Link]

Wood, N., and Hine, A., 2007, Spatial trends in marsh sediment deposition within a microtidal creek system, Waccasassa Bay, Florida, Journal of Coastal Research, 23 (4): p. 823 – 833 [Link]

Wood, N., and Halsing, D., 2006. Opportunities and Needs for Mobile-Computing Technology to Support U.S. Geological Survey Fieldwork. Circular 1299, iv, 24 p. [Link]

Wood, N., Sleeter, B., Ng, P., 2006. Geographic Information System Software to Enhance Field-Data Collection and Management of Land Cover Trends Information. Techniques and Methods 11-C1, iii, 24 p. [Link]

Wood, N., 2006. Dialog on science impact: benchmarking external efforts and organizations. Open-File Report 2006-1013, iii, 77 p. [Link]

Bernknopf, R., Rabinovici, S., Wood, N. and Dinitz, L., 2006, The influence of hazard models on GIS-based regional risk assessments and mitigation policies, International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, 6 (4), 369 – 387. [Link]

McMahon, G., Benjamin, S., Clarke, K., Findley, J., Fisher, R., Graf, W., Gundersen, L., Jones, J., Loveland, T., Roth, K., Usery, E.L., Wood, N., 2005. Geography for a Changing World: A science strategy for the geographic research of the U.S. Geological Survey, 2005-2015. Circular 1281, 74 p.

Wood, N., and Good, J., 2005, Perceptions of earthquake and tsunami issues in U.S. Pacific Northwest port and harbor communities, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 23 (3), 103–138. [Link]

Wood, N., and Good, J., 2004, Vulnerability of a port and harbor community to earthquake and tsunami hazards: the use of GIS in community hazard planning, Coastal Management, 32 (3), 243-269. [Link]

Wood, N., and Hine, A., 2003, Sediment dynamics of a sediment-starved, open-marine marsh embayment: Waccasassa Bay, Florida, Journal of Coastal Research, 19 (3), 574–583. [Link]

Wood, N., Good, J., and Goodwin, B., 2002, Community-based vulnerability assessment of a port and harbor to earthquake and tsunami hazards: Yaquina Bay, Oregon, Natural Hazards Review, 3 (4), 148-157. [Link]


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Geographic Analysis and Mappinggeospatial analysis
Geographic Analysis and Mappingspatial analysis
Natural Hazardsearthquake preparedness
Natural Hazardshazards
Natural Hazardslahars
Natural Hazardstsunamis
Natural Hazardsvolcanoes
Natural Hazardshurricanes
Natural Hazardsstorm surge
Oceans and Coastlinescoastal zones
Oceans and Coastlinessea-level change
Techniques and Methodsaerial photography
Techniques and Methodsgeographic information systems (GIS)
Techniques and Methodsrisk assessment
Techniques and Methodsstatistical analysis
Environmental Issuesland use
Environmental Issuesland use change

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Climate Variability & Change

Societal vulnerability to hazards


The nation faces a wide array of natural hazards that threaten its safety, security, economic well-being, and natural resources. To balance short-term development pressures and long-term sustainability goals, public officials need a clear understanding of societal vulnerability to threats and strategies for increasing resilience. Societal vulnerability and resilience to natural hazards are complex phenomena involving the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of coupled human-environmental systems in light of potential land change. Vulnerability and resilience are functions of (1) existing patterns of land use, cover, and condition, (2) socioeconomic conditions, (3) likely future patterns of land change, and (4) current efforts to mitigate, adapt to, or prepare for potential land change. 

Dr. Wood's research focuses on developing and applying quantitative, qualitative, and geospatial methods to characterize, visualize, and communicate the vulnerability of coupled human-environmental systems to natural hazards. He integrates understanding of past, current, and potential land-surface change with hazard scenarios to characterize the spatial dynamics of societal vulnerability.This information enables public officials to make better decisions about how to effectively prepare the public for future catastrophes, how to efficiently manage natural resources, and where to safely locate development.

Contact Information

Nathan Wood
Portland, OR 97201
503-251-3470 - Fax
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