This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," January 12, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Many people can't help but wonder if the killer tsunami in Asia is linked to the deadly mudslides in California. Joining us from Denver, Colorado, is Dr. Sue Cannon, a research geologist with the landslide hazards team at the U.S. Geological Survey. Welcome to our show.
DR. SUE CANNON, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any chance that the rain in California and the event, the earthquake that caused the tsunami on December 26, is in any way related?
CANNON: No, no way whatsoever. The landslides in California have been because of a local weather pattern over southern California and not related to plate tectonics or any movement like that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any way to gauge the speed of that mudslide in California?
CANNON: I guess from the film, certainly, we could track how fast individual particles within the slide were moving. It looked faster than you could run, though I understand some people did manage to run away.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any way that you could have a prediction, or simply a lot of rain in a dangerous area like that with that type of cliff should be enough notice to you to get out of there?
CANNON: That's a very dangerous situation along the coastal bluff cliffs there. They certainly had troubles in the past. In 1995, there was a large landslide that came down from there. I understand that in 1995, they saw cracking on the hillside and expansion and movement of trees, so that gave them some indication that things were going to happen on that landslide. I haven't heard of any warning, precursors for this mudslide, though.
VAN SUSTEREN: In light of that, is U.S. Geological Survey — is anybody responsible to sort of tell these people, Look, 1995, we had this happen. We've got clues that it's going happen again. We know California is going to get rains, so get out of there, don't live in that area?
CANNON: Well, the USGS doesn't have any regulatory authority at all. We can provide tools, maps, and information about situations. But it often comes to the state or the local agencies to really give a strong warning or to trigger an evacuation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was there any warning given?
CANNON: I understand in this case that people were starting to evacuate from the situation at the time that the mudslide occurred.
VAN SUSTEREN: We've heard about these sensors. What are the sensors that could possibly give you some sort of notice or indication?
CANNON: Well, some people within the USGS have developed a sensor that works like a geophone. Essentially, it detects rumbling within the earth. And they've used those in cases for volcano eruptions or mudslides coming off of volcanoes. They're really only effective where the mudslide has to travel over a very long distance, so you have enough time to give a warning. In this case, there were just a few moments before the landslide started to move and before it impacted the town. So a sensor like that wouldn't be of that much use in this situation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. It happened in '95. It just happened again. Is there anything, any manmade thing we can do to prevent it from happening again? Does planting trees, for instance, help secure that area? Is there anything that we can do to help these people?
CANNON: This is a large problem, and I think it would require an intensive engineering effort to give any sort of reasonable result. It's an inherently unstable area that will need a lot of work and a lot of study, I think.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does that mean, no, that you live there at your own risk, that there's absolutely nothing we can do?
CANNON: Any solution to fix that would be very expensive, other than avoidance.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Sue, thank you very much.
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