USGS Earthquake Science Center Welcomes New Director

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The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Stephen Hickman to serve as the new director of the USGS Earthquake Science Center, headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

Image: Steve Hickman Earthquake Science Center Director
Steve Hickman, Geophysicist, USGS Earthquake Science Center director as of 2015.
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MENLO PARK, Calif. — The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Stephen Hickman to serve as the new director of the USGS Earthquake Science Center, headquartered in Menlo Park, California. Dr. Hickman succeeds Dr. Thomas Brocher, who served in the position for the past six years.

“Steve Hickman’s decades of experience in the USGS as a research geophysicist will serve the Survey and the American people well as he embarks on his new leadership position,” said USGS Pacific Region director Mark Sogge. “He 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. His extensive science and leadership skills will be invaluable as he guides the Center and works with our partners to address new scientific and technical challenges ahead.”

Dr. 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.

“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. 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,” said Hickman.

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, member of the Geologic Well Integrity Team during the Deepwater Horizon blowout and member of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee.

Hickman received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Earlham College and a PhD 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.

Dr. Brocher said it has been a pleasure to serve as center director and to work with the USGS Earthquake Hazards, Volcano Hazards, and Energy Resources Programs. “I’ve enjoyed helping to guide the center’s research, hazard assessment, and monitoring activities to address the highest priorities of the USGS mission,” he said. “During that time we upgraded the seismic monitoring networks in the West Coast, tested a prototype earthquake early system, and investigated how to incorporate real-time GPS into earthquake early-warning systems.”

Brocher 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 helping to assess earthquake hazards in the Pacific Northwest.