Group Dinner Meeting

The Oso Landslide:  Technical and Legal Issues

Dr. Marv Pyles, PE

Prof. Emeritus, OSU

Dr. Gunner Schlieder, RG, CEG

President, GeoScience, Inc.


Marvin Pyles is a professor Emeritus of Oregon State University.  He is a professional engineer in California, Oregon, and Washington.  The foundation of his formal education as a geotechnical engineer was earned at OSU under the tutelage of Lee Schroeder and JR Bell.  His Doctorate was earned at UC Berkeley under Harry Seed.  He has taught civil engineering at San Diego State University, forest engineering at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and both civil engineering and forest engineering at Oregon State University.  At Oregon State, he was the first holder of the Gene D. Knudsen chair in Forestry.  His consulting practice over the past 40 years has included a broad array of projects ranging from seismic analysis of dams, earth and rock slope stability, and environmental impact of forest management activities.

Gunnar Schlieder is President of GeoScience, Inc., a consulting firm based in Eugene and specializing in slope stability and forensic geotechnical investigations.  He is an Oregon Certified Engineering Geologist.  His formal education was earned at the Technical University in Munich (BS), The George Washington University (MS), and Lehigh University, where he received a doctorate specializing in glacial geology under Ed Evenson.  In Eugene since 1989, he has worked on "soil" and slope stability issues for clients including private parties, neighborhood groups, developers, forest products companies, and local, State, and Federal government entities.

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 5:45 pm - 8:30 pm at The Old Spaghetti Factory in SW Portland

Abstract:  On March 22, 2014, a landslide of epic proportions in volume, speed, and runout struck the Steelhead Haven neighborhood on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River in Washington State, killing 43 people.  Within 6 months of the event, lawsuits had been filed against the State of Washington, Snohomish County, and a private timber land owner of a portion of the area involved.  The State of Washington assembled a team of experts to investigate the slide and determine the cause.  This talk presents five of the conclusions drawn from both the geologic and geotechnical investigation, which was rushed to comply with court-imposed deadlines, and the legal wrangling:  (1) The slide, both in terms of occurrence and the extent of damage was a natural event that was not caused or influenced by human activity.  (2) The geology and geologic history of the site had been incorrectly interpreted by nearly all professionals pre- and post-slide.  (3) The geotechnical aspects of the slide made prediction virtually impossible.  (4) The nature of an actionable prediction by the "geo-professional" community is poorly understood and may not even exist in realty.  (5)  The current legal environment in tort law can make serving in an expert capacity on such a case professionally perilous. 

This month dinner will start early at 6:30 pm.  If RSVP-ing via email, please include one of the following meal options per registrant: (1) Chicken Marsala, (2) Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, (3) Spaghetti with Marinara. Guests may also order coffee or tea paid for by the group.  Late registrations will be accepted up to Monday, April 3rd at noon, but a $10 late fee ($5 for students) will be assessed for any reservation made after Friday. Cancellations within 10 days of the event will incur a fee equal to the registration fee.