On March 24, 1994, Dr. Gordon P. Eaton became the 12th Director of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Dr. Eaton graduated from Wesleyan University, with high Honors and High Distinction with a B.A. in Geology in 1951; received an M.S. in Geology from the California Institute of Technology in 1953; and a Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics in 1957 from the California Institute of Technology.
On March 24, 1994, Dr. Gordon P. Eaton became the 12th Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. From October 1990 to March 1994, he served as the Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York. From 1986 to 1990, Dr. Eaton was President of the Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. From 1967 to 1981, Dr. Eaton held various positions with the U.S. Geological Survey, including Associate Chief Geologist, Reston, Virginia; Scientist-in-charge, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii; Project Chief, Geothermal Geophysics, Branch of Theoretical and Applied Geophysics, Denver, Colorado; Deputy Chief, Office of Geochemistry and Geophysics, Washington, D.C. and Reston, Virginia; and Project Chief, Southwestern Geophysics Project, Regional Geophysics Branch, Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Eaton is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, and the American Geophysical Union. He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the Midwest, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and American Men and Women of Science. He was a member of committee on the formation of the National Biological Survey, National Research Council. He has also served on the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources and the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council.
Upon Eaton's retirement, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said "Under his guidance,the USGS has expanded to become the preeminent science bureau for the Department of the Interior, one that now encompasses the disciplines of biology, geology, hydrology and mapping. In addition, he has been a tireless advocate for the Survey through difficult periods of downsizing, funding uncertainties, and transformation of its mission."
As Director, Eaton overcame attempts to abolish the USGS while leading the bureau through a significant downsizing and restructuring. Establishing an integrated approach to science, he oversaw the incorporation into the USGS of the former National Biological Service and part of the former Bureau of Mines. A key priority of Dr. Eaton’s was to provide an increased emphasis on the bureau’s responsiveness to customers.