Transitions at the Washington Geological Survey

Dave Norman Retires


Last week, after 30 years of doggedly striving for the success of the Washington Geological Survey on behalf of the residents of Washington State, Dave Norman, our State Geologist, retired.

Dave spent his early career with the Survey as the manager of the Surface Mine Reclamation Program and then became the Assistant State Geologist. He spent the last ten years of his career as the Survey’s fearless leader, and in most ways, he is unequaled.

When we think of leaders, we think of people who have vision, know the destination needed, have long-term strategies, who can wrangle multiple personalities and interests to find common ground, are rabid cheerleaders and advocates for their programs and people, seize opportunities when they arise, can talk with just about anyone about anything, and know when to get out of the way. Dave embodies all of those things.

Under Dave’s tenure, the Survey has:

Improved public safety

Through Dave’s leadership we have a clear sense of our role in responding to natural hazards and we know what is necessary to make the public safe during a geological event. We have a robust lidar program that is an example for the nation, a new landslide hazards program, and a new full-time tsunami modeler. We are also making an important contribution to understanding the seismic safety of Washington’s K–12 schools.

Improved Morale

Dave has always listened with empathy to Survey staff, taking time to get all opinions and to gather recommendations that have greatly improved the Survey. He has institutionalized our culture of public service, innovation, teamwork, and leadership and has pushed all of us to be our best and to think outside the box.

Increased our visibility

Dave held decision-maker field trips with the legislature and increased public outreach via our website in order to make sure our agency, the legislature, and the public knows who we are and why we’re important.

Set our Path

Because of Dave, the Survey has done lots of strategic thinking and has long-term goals and plans in place. Dave has also fostered branching out to new areas of research and applied geology, including geothermal energy, carbon sequestration, critical minerals, and groundwater.

Increased the quality and quantity of the data we provide

Dave has encouraged, cajoled, and demanded that all WGS be digital. He single-handedly finagled the creation of the Washington Geologic Information Portal, which provides access to more than 25 digital data sets. This resource is used by thousands of people each month to do research, learn about geologic hazards near them, and to make decisions.

A new beginning


This week will mark a new beginning for the Washington Geological Survey when Casey Hanell joins the Survey as DNR’s new State Geologist.

Casey is a long-term employee of the Washington Department of Natural Resources State Lands Division and has extensive expertise in the geology of Washington, engineering geology, and team management.

An Olympia native, Casey’s first job at DNR was as a receptionist in Executive Management in 1998. Since then he has worked in Aquatics Division as an office assistant, in various State Lands Divisions as a science tech/geologist/natural resource scientist, in Olympic Region as a silviculture forester, and in his current role as the Earth Science Program Manager in the Forest Resources Division since December 2011. He has been a participant in the Wildfire Program in a variety of roles since 2004.

Welcome Casey!