Logo: University of Southern California

Lesley Ewing – A PhD student of Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – sent to lead reconnaissance team to investigate infrastructure damage which resulted from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan

June 06, 2011 —


As a leader in the civil engineering community on disaster and response, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has sent engineering teams into the field following major events, such as the attack on the World Trade Center, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, and the Indian Ocean tsunami. With this in mind and in response to the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, ASCE sent reconnaissance teams to investigate the infrastructure damage.  The fourth reconnaissance team, sponsored by the Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute, is investigating the effect on coastal structures such as tsunami walls, breakwaters and seawalls that are used for navigation, flood control and life safety. It is being led by Lesley Ewing, P.E., D.CE, M.ASCE, a senior coastal engineer with the California Coastal Commission, based in San Francisco. Ewing and her teammates will be providing updates on their findings and experiences in regular posts.  


(See links to the posts below.)

Lesley Ewing has worked as the California Coastal Commission's Civil Engineer for over 20 years during which time she has focused primarily on coastal issues, investigating shoreline change, and wave and storm damage along California's 1,067 miles of coast. Her work responsibilities include technical review of shoreline armoring projects, beach protection and restoration and new development along the coast. Her first Commission project was to report on the possible consequences from rising sea level to the California Coast and this has remained an important aspect throughout her current career. Prior to the CA Coastal Commission, she worked for the Rural Electrification Administration, Energy and Environmental Analysis, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and R.W. Beck and Associates.


lesley ewing

She is on the Senior Advisory Group for both California Ocean Observing Systems, technical advisor for USC's Sea Grant Program, technical reviewer for ASCE's International Conference on Coastal Engineering, past president and current director of California Shore & Beach Preservation Association, Director of the Coasts, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute of the ASCE, and has been on the organizing committee of several international coastal conferences, most recently ASCE's Solutions to Coastal Disasters.  She is the recipient of the ASBPA Morrough P. O'Brien Award and the Coastal Zone Foundation's Coastal Zone Management Award.  Ms. Ewing received a Sc.B. in civil engineering from Brown University, a M.R.P. in Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and M. Eng. in Coastal Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.  She is a licensed engineer in California and Virginia.


Waterwall in Kenahama

Waterwall in Kenahama, about 9 kilometers up the bay from the ocean.  Discoloration indicates water up to the 10 meter elevation


All that remains of seawall Koizumi Beach

All that remains of a seawall at Koizumi Beach.  Tsunami run up heights exceeded  14 m in this area. 


Damage Taro Barriers

Damage inland of Taro’s barrier walls from the Tohoku Oki Tsunami


Abandoned hotel Koizumi Beach

Abandoned hotel at Koizumi Beach.  Building was on a sand beach prior to the March 11, 2011 tsunami



Days 1 and 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7