Iredale vies for national award

Marley Iredale, a Sequim High School senior, is one of three Washington students among 300 semifinalists announced by Intel, the computer chip manufacturer.

Iredale is competing for one of 40 finalist positions in America's most prestigious science research competition, the Intel Science Talent Search, scheduled for March in Washington, D.C.

Finalists are announced on Jan. 27.

Westinghouse sponsored the first competition in 1942. Today as a program of the Society for Science and the Public, it provides an opportunity for more than 1,700 senior high school applicants from 442 schools to win $1.25 million in awards.

As a semifinalist, Iredale receives $1,000 for her research project and submittal of her science report, "A Tsunami Hazard Assessment in Discovery Bay, Washington."

Her project started in June 2008 with submission of her research plan to Dr. Brian Atwater of the University of Washington. It involved taking soil samples of the recently exposed peat deposits at the head of Discovery Bay to look for evidence of tsunami sand layers. She found 10 layers and performed various kinds of analyses to determine if they were produced by tsunamis over the past 2,500 years.

After 400-500 hours of work, Iredale concluded that all 10 layers were created by tsunamis that reoccur on average every 240 years. This reoccurrence interval is about twice as often as expected for tsunamis generated off the Pacific Coast by the Cascadia Subduction Zone alone.

Since the last tsunami occurred more than 300 years ago, her analysis of the data indicates that local, regional, or Cascadia Subduction Zone sources have a 60-80 percent chance of generating another tsunami in the next 30 years.

Iredale performed research over the past five years as a member and now president of the Sequim Science Club. The Sequim School District, with science teacher Debra Beckett as advisor and several mentors, sponsors the club.

The Sequim Science Club meets every Tuesday after school in Beckett's middle school classroom for students who want to do a science or engineering project and compete in the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair.

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