New Scientist-in-Charge at USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

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The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Seth Moran to serve as the new Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory. Moran succeeds John Ewert, who served in the position for the past five years. Moran took the helm on August 9.

Image: Seth Moran, USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
Seth Moran, Scientist-in-Charge of the U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory.
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VANCOUVER, Wash. — The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Seth Moran to serve as the new Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory. Moran succeeds John Ewert, who served in the position for the past five years. Moran took the helm on August 9. 

"I was excited when I heard that Seth was interested in applying for the CVO scientist-in-charge position. He has the requisite background required for a volcano observatory scientist-in-charge: the ability to lead the research effort and teams of scientists, and just as importantly, an ability to convey that science in meaningful terms to the emergency management community, elected officials, the media and the public," said Tom Murray, director of the USGS Volcano Science Center, who oversees all five U.S. volcano observatories.

Moran comes to the scientist-in-charge position from within the ranks of the CVO, where he has spent the last 12 years as a USGS seismologist.  Residents of the Pacific Northwest might recognize Seth as the scientist who has answered many questions in interviews with the news media in recent years concerning volcanic and regional earthquakes.

Moran received his Masters degree from the University of Washington in 1992 with a thesis about earthquakes at Mount St. Helens that occurred after the 1980 through 1986 eruption sequence. He received his doctorate from the University of Washington in 1997 with a study about the approximate dimensions and location of magma beneath Mount Rainier as well as seismicity around Mount Rainier.

Moran began his USGS career as a research seismologist for the Alaska Volcano Observatory in 1997. During his time in Anchorage, he also participated in overseas responses to eruptions in Ecuador in 1998-1999. In 2003 Moran joined the staff of the CVO as the principal USGS seismologist responsible for studying and monitoring Cascade volcanoes. 

Moran’s timing was fortuitous; in the fall of 2004 Mount St. Helens reawakened after 18 years of quiet. As is typical in all eruption responses, Moran assumed many different roles during the response: conducting his own seismic analyses, coordinating research by others outside CVO, being interviewed by the news media, assembling statements for the news media and working with partner agencies in emergency response.

In addition to Mount St. Helens, a significant percentage of Moran’s time has been spent maintaining and improving seismic monitoring capabilities at other Cascade volcanoes, such as installing new seismic stations at Mount Rainier National Park, and developing a new network of eight seismic stations at Newberry Volcano in 2011.

Moran has also been active in the larger scientific community being a critical player in the Imaging Magma Under St. Helens experiment, known as iMUSH, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and USGS to produce a better “picture” of the magma “plumbing system” under the volcano.

He has also served as chair of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Program for Array Seismic Studies of the Continental Lithosphere Standing Committee, working to facilitate earth science investigations through the use of portable seismic instrumentation and dissemination of seismic data to the research community. 

Seth Moran takes over the leadership of CVO from John Ewert, who served as the scientist-in-charge for five years. Ewert will rotate back to a staff position at CVO with Volcano Disaster Assistance Program focusing on novel approaches to eruption forecasting and updating National Volcano Warning System documents.

"My sincere appreciation goes to John Ewert who, during his tenure, effectively dealt with the serious issues of a government shutdown, and a budget sequestration. Under John’s leadership CVO weathered these with morale intact and projects continuing to move forward," added Murray. "John accomplished many things, including a successful push for an international exchange in 2013 with Colombia."