William Leith

Dr. Leith is the Senior Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards of the U. S. Geological Survey. In this position, he serves as Program Coordinator for the Earthquake Hazards Program, Global Seismographic Network Program, and National Geomagnetism Program. 


As Acting Associate Director for Natural Hazards, Bill oversees the geologic hazards and coastal and marine programs of the USGS and coordinates the long-term planning and hazard response activities for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, geomagnetic storms, floods, severe storms, tsunamis, and wildfires.

Career Experience

  • 2010-2011: Oversaw USGS programs in Earthquake, Volcano, Landslide and Geomagnetic Hazards, USGS activities in flood and wildfire hazards, and the Global Seismographic Network Program.
  • 2003-2010: Associate Program Coordinator for Earthquake Hazards, Global Seismographic Network & Geomagnetism Programs; Coordinator of the Advanced National Seismic System, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.
  • 2001-2003: Special Assistance to the Assistant Secretary for Verification and Compliance, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC.
  • 1989 - 2001: Chief, Special Geologic Studies Group, U.S. Geological Survey.  Manage a group of scientists engaged in research on foreign countries and sites of interest on behalf of the U.S. defense and intelligence communities. Assisted in the drafting of revised protocols to the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty and, most recently, in formulating options for the negotiation of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban. Numerous working visits abroad. 
  • 1986 - 1989: Geologist, Geologic Division, Military Geology Project, U.S. Geological Survey. Research on the geology and geophysics of foreign countries, primarily the former Soviet Union, and nuclear test sites and other critical military facilities, worldwide. Analyzed data from published reports on the geology, hydrology, and physical properties of test site areas; interpreted satellite images in light of this information; proposed and evaluated analogues for such areas. 
  • 1984 - 1989: Associate Research Scientist; Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University. Collaborated on the development of a program of field research on the geology, seismicity, and tectonics of sites in Soviet Central Asia, working in cooperation with both American and foreign scientists to analyze seismological and geological data.
  • 1984 - 1984: Visiting Lecturer; Department of Geology, University of California, Berkeley. Taught the senior-level undergraduate course in Plate Tectonics.