LIDAR: Not a fortune teller machine in a movie.

So, Tom Hanks wasn’t involved in this project, for those of you who got my lame joke. Tools like LIDAR remind me of why I was a demography major in college.

LIDAR is the most accurate way to map the earth’s surface (think of Google Earth for supernerds). It also allows those looking to buy a home or those curious about earthquakes or landslides to make a risk assessment! LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is accessible through this map link. The project allows you to click on a landmark, type in your address or view the map for the entire Portland metro area.
The website has a comprehensive help link for less tech-savvy internet users. Once you’ve determined your house lies in the middle of a disaster zone, it might also be a good idea to consult the landslide and earthquake links at the Oregon Red Cross website!For the tenaciously curious, the picture above illustrates the mapping process and further information can be found through the USGS.

PS: This tool shouldn’t be used as a substitute for site-specific evaluations. Contact the Oregon Board of Geologist Examiners (503-566-2837) or the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (503-362-2666 ) for lists of registered professional consultants available for site-specific evaluations.