Menlo Park: USGS names new director of earthquake science center


Stephen Hickman will serve as the new director of the USGS Earthquake Science Center, headquartered in Menlo Park, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Monday.

He succeeds Thomas Brocher, who served in the position for the past six years.

Steve Hickman (Photo: USGS)
Mr. Hickman has led or participated in numerous scientific projects in the United States and abroad, and was co-principal investigator on the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth, a major component of the National Science Foundation's EarthScope facility, said Mark Sogge, director of the USGS Pacific Region.

Mr. Hickman's research focuses on borehole and laboratory studies of the interaction between stress, fractures, and fluid flow in high-temperature geothermal systems and the physical and chemical processes controlling faulting and earthquake generation within active faults, the USGS said.

"Working with partners in academia, other agencies and industry, the Earthquake Science Center has a proud history of combining world-class scientific research with long-term monitoring to assess earthquake hazards, both natural and human-induced," Mr. Hickman said in a written statement. "As center director, I am excited by the opportunity to work with center staff, USGS programs and external partners to strengthen these activities so the USGS can continue to provide the information needed to reduce the risks earthquakes pose to society and facilitate the safe development of conventional and renewable energy resources."

Mr. Hickman was a member of the USGS Geologic Division Scientific Strategy Team, chair of the Science Advisory Group for the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, a member of the Geologic Well Integrity Team during the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and a member of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee.

He received a bachelor's degree in geology from Earlham College and a Ph.D. in solid-earth geophysics from MIT. His accolades include the Superior Service and Meritorious Service Awards from the U.S. Department of Interior and the 2014 "Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service" from the American Geophysical Union.

Mr. Brocher, the former director, said he looks forward to returning to work in the USGS Earthquake Science Center as a research geophysicist, where he will focus on improving and refining 3-D seismic velocity models that will be used to forecast strong ground motions in future earthquakes, as well as help assess earthquake hazards in the Pacific Northwest.

During his time as center director, he said, "we upgraded the seismic monitoring networks on the West Coast, tested a prototype earthquake early-warning system, and investigated how to incorporate real-time GPS into earthquake early-warning systems."

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