Lucy Jones

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Lucile M. Jones

Lucile M. Jones (born 1955) is a seismologist and public voice for earthquake science and earthquake safety in California. She has been with the US Geological Survey and a Visiting Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech since 1983. She is currently serving as the Science Advisor for Risk Reduction for the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area [1] as part of the SAFRR Project.[2] In January 2014, she entered into a partnership on behalf of the USGS with the City of Los Angeles to serve as Seismic Risk Advisor to Mayor Eric Garcetti.[3] She served as a Commissioner of the California Seismic Safety Commission (CSSC),[4][5] which advises the governor and legislature on seismic safety, by appointment of Governor Gray Davis in 2002 and reappointment by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 and serves on the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council. She has received several awards, including the Alquist Award from the California Earthquake Safety Foundation,[6] the Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievements in Science Communication from the USGS, and the 2007 Award of Merit from the Los Angeles County Emergency Preparedness Commission, and the 2015 AGU Ambassador Award.

Scientific career[edit]

Jones has authored over 100 papers on research seismology with primary interest in the physics of earthquakes, foreshocks and earthquake hazard assessment, and the seismotectonics (earthquake-producing geologic structures) of southern California. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese Language and Literature, Magna Cum Laude, from Brown University in 1976 and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981.[7] She visited China in February 1979 in order to study the 1975 Haicheng earthquake, which had apparently been successfully predicted by the Chinese authorities based on an analysis of its foreshock sequence. In doing so, she became one of the first United States scientists to enter China following the normalization of relations between the two countries.[8][9] She is a past Secretary of the Seismology Section of the American Geophysical Union, and past Director and past Chair of the Publications Committee of the Seismological Society of America.[10]

Public outreach[edit]

Since 1986, Jones has given many interviews to the press on behalf of the US Geological Survey following significant earthquakes in southern California. In a 2004 profile of her, Tom Jordan of the USGS was quoted as saying, "Lucy provides Southern California — and the nation — with a very calming voice and an authoritative voice to the public's inquiry in disaster." He also said that her high public profile may make her "one of the most effective chairs of CSSC ever".[5]

Public perception of Jones as a voice of calm and reassurance has been attributed, in part, to an incident following the 1992 Joshua Tree earthquake in which she answered press questions while holding her sleeping child in her arms. In a 2011 interview, Jones denied the story that she asked the press to be quiet so as not to wake her son. She also expressed some regret that she became a symbol that "women can have it all".[8]

In 2015, Jones was embedded at Los Angeles City Hall, a move by the USGS that Caltech's Tom Heaton credited with the September passage of a retrofitting plan that would increase seismic survivability of over 15,000 structures largely built of non-ductile concrete.[11]


Jones, a fourth-generation resident of southern California, currently lives in Pasadena, California. She is married to fellow seismologist Egill Hauksson and they have two sons, Sven and Niels.

Earthquakes are inevitable, but disasters are not.

— Dr. Lucile Jones [11]

On March 18, 2016, Jones announced that she would be retiring from the USGS later that month. Based on the success of her advocacy for retrofitting in Los Angeles in 2015, she plans to start a non-profit that will promote earthquake preparedness to legislators. She also plans to write a book and spend more time with family.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-09. Retrieved 2011-02-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Survey, U.S. Geological. "U.S. Geological Survey: SAFRR - Science Application for Risk Reduction".
  3. ^ II, Rong-Gong Lin; Xia, Rosanna (14 January 2014). "L.A. Mayor Garcetti calls for aggressive earthquake safety effort" – via LA Times.
  4. ^ Groshong, Kimm (17 May 2004), "Earthquake maven gets new position: Lucy Jones to lead California Seismic Safety Commission", Pasadena Star News, p. A-1.
  5. ^ a b Lubick, 2004
  6. ^ "2000 Alfred E. Alquist Medal Winner: Lucille M. Jones". California Earthquake Safety Foundation. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Lucy Jones". USGS. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b Wallace, 2011
  9. ^ Wallace, Amy. "Meet Lucy Jones, "the Earthquake Lady"". The Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Speaker Biographies" (PDF). School Seismic Safety Seminar. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Henry, Jason. "Why Lucy Jones' retirement might just save thousands of lives during earthquakes". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  12. ^ Atencio, Kevin B. (March 21, 2016). "USGS soon looses its seosmologist Lucy Jones who annexing herself a role in public". Microcap Magazine. Retrieved 21 March 2016.


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