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Squamish geoscientist wins prestigious award

Pierre Friele has conducted years of landslide tracing and documenting in the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Pierre Friele
Pierre Friele.

A local geoscientist will soon be honoured with a prestigious Engineers and Geoscientists BC award.

Pierre Friele, principal at Cordilleran Geoscience, has earned the Westerman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Geoscience.

“There’s a subset of professionals that practice in the same field that I do that have won the award,” said Friele. “They’re exceptional scientists; they’re my mentors and colleagues and people who I work with and people who I admire. So, to be kind of invited into that cadre of scientists, it’s a huge honour.”

Engineers and Geoscientists BC wrote in a news release that in Friele’s 25-year career, he “significantly advanced the knowledge and understanding of the geological history, natural hazards and ecology of the Sea to Sky Corridor, which will underpin current efforts to establish the corridor as a UNESCO Geopark.”

One of Friele’s more extensive projects during his career was working with numerous colleagues to document and trace historic and prehistoric landslides in the Sea to Sky.

“Some of those landslides are so large,” Friele said, “that they can mobilize and travel very great distances. They can travel 70, 80 kilometres downstream from their source.”

He then took that information and made a risk assessment with his colleagues.

“We just discovered in doing this work that the risk, when compared to international standards, is an unacceptable life safety risk,” he said.

After publishing the findings, he and his colleagues informed the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Pemberton and Mt. Currie so that policy makers were aware and could potentially take action, if they deemed it necessary.

Friele said he was born in Whistler and Pemberton and now calls Squamish home. He said his spark comes from growing up in the region.

When it comes down to it, ultimately, Friele’s curiosity is what drives him to continue researching the land.

“Within all that soil, there’s just records of earth history that goes back 10,000 years,” said Friele. “I come across these features in my work, and I’m just curious about them and want to understand the story they’re telling.”

Friele will receive the award on Oct. 4. For more information about Friele and the award, please visit the Engineers and Geoscientists BC website.


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