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Peter W Lipman, PhD

Pete Lipman's work has involved applying, cooperatively with others, techniques of petrology, geochemistry, geochronology, oceanography, and geophysics to problems that have been well constrained by detailed field studies.

Lipman obtained a bachelor degree in geology from Yale University in 1958, followed by a M.S. in 1960 and Ph.D. in 1962 from Stanford University.  Although his graduate dissertation involved study of the ultramafic, granitic, and metamorphic rocks of the Trinity Alps in northern California, he has worked largely on problems of volcanic geology since joining the U.S. Geological Survey in 1962.  From 1962-1990, Lipman resided mainly in Golden, Colorado, with his wife Beverly and two sons born in 1966 and 1968.  Major interludes have included an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tokyo in 1964-65 to study active silicic volcanism in Japan and a two-year stint at the Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at Kilauea Volcano in 1975-1977.  In 1991, Lipman moved his office to Menlo Park, California, and he and Bev now live on the edge of the American plate, surrounded by poison oak, in Portola Valley.

Lipman has worked on volcanic rocks and problems in seven western states, as well as in Hawaii, Japan, China, and the USSR.  His work has involved applying, cooperatively with others, techniques of petrology, geochemistry, geochronology, oceanography, and geophysics to problems that have been well constrained by detailed field studies.  Special topics of interest have included:  volcanism as a record of igneous processes within the earth, volcanism as evidence of plate-tectonic interactions, comparisons between processes of active volcanism and the internal structures of eroded ancient volcanoes, relations between volcanism and ore deposits, monitoring of active volcanoes by geodetic measurements of ground deformation, volcanic hazards and scientific responsibilities. Lipman is author of more than 270 scientific reports, excluding abstracts.  He coedited the Geological Survey's 900 p. book on the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens Volcano published in 1982, the Geological Society of America's DNAG volume on The Cordilleran Orogen: Conterminous U.S., and also two special issues of the Journal of Geophysical Research (1985 Calderas and Associated Rocks, 1991 Middle Tertiary Cordilleran Magmatism). From 1991 to 1994, he was a science manager for the USGS, serving as Chief of the Branch of Volcanic and Geothermal Processes (135 employees), and coordinator for a $20 M Congressional line-item program focused on volcanic hazards and geothermal resources.  Since 1995, he has been chief scientist for the USGS project "Eruptive hazards at large volcanoes," focused on ignimbrite calderas of the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, and Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii" (as Emeritus Scientist since 2003).

Professional Experience

  • Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Geological Survey, 2003-Present

  • Research geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, 1962-2003

  • Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, 1975-1977

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Tokyo, 1964-1965

  • Coeditor of the Bulletin of Volcanology

  • Associate editor of the Geological Society of America Bulletin and Geology

  • Outside member of 12 graduate student dissertation committees at 7 universities

Education and Certifications

  • Ph.D. in Geology, Stanford University - 1962

  • M.S. in Geology, Stanford University - 1960

  • Bachelor's in Geology, Yale University - 1958

Affiliations and Memberships*

  • Elected Councilor of the Geological Society and member of its Executive Committee

  • Past President and member of the executive committee of IAVCEI (Internat. Assoc. Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior)

  • Past Secretary and Program Chairman of the Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology section of the American Geophysical Union

Honors and Awards

  • Florence Bascom Geologic Mapping Award, Geological Society of America - 2021

  • First recipient of the MGPV Section Lifetime Achievement Award, Geological Society of America - 2010

  • Distinguished Service Award, Department of the Interior - 1999

  • Meritorious Service Award, Department of Interior - 1985

  • USGS Mendenhall Lecturer - 1984

  • Burwell Award of the Geological Society of America - 1983

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