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Michelle L. Coombs, Ph.D.

Michelle Coombs is a Research Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Volcanic Science Center. Since 2016, she has served as Scientist-in-Charge of the Alaska Volcano Observatory. In this position, Dr. Coombs leads eruption responses, oversees expansion and modernization of volcano monitoring techniques, and guides applied and fundamental research on a host of problems related to volcanology.

Professional Experience

  • 2016–present: Scientist-in-Charge, Alaska Volcano Observatory, Volcano Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK

  • 2004–2016: Research Geologist, Alaska Volcano Observatory

  • 2001–2004: Research Geologist, Volcano Hazards Team, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park CA



  • Affiliate faculty, University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • CONVERSE Steering Committee member, 2020–present

  • Member of AGU student awards committee, 2011–2015

  • Associate Editor, Bulletin of Volcanology, 2013–2016

  • Editorial board, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2007–2018

  • Co-editor for 28-chapter USGS Professional Paper 1769, The 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano, Alaska, 2010

  • Co-editor for Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research special issue on Growth and collapse of Hawaiian volcanoes, 2006

Education and Certifications

  • Williams College, BA Geology, 1994

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks, PhD Geology, 2001

Affiliations and Memberships*

  • American Geophysical Union, 1996–present 

  • Geological Society of America, 2001–present (elected Fellow in 2015)

  • International Assoc. of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, 1999–present

Science and Products

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government