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William Leith

Dr. Leith is the former Senior Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards. From 2012 to 2019, he served as Program Coordinator for the Earthquake Hazards Program, the Global Seismographic Network Program, and the Geomagnetism Program. 

Dr. Leith is the former Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards at the U. S. Geological Survey. Before retiring in 2019, he oversaw the Earthquake Hazards, Geomagnetism and Global Seismographic Network Programs. Bill joined the USGS in 1986, after receiving a doctoral degree in seismology and geology from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He served USGS as Chief of the USGS Special Geologic Studies Group from 1990-2001, as Senior Technical Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance from 2001-2003, as the Coordinator of the Advanced National Seismic System from 2003-2012, and as USGS Acting Associate Director in 2010-2011 and 2017. Bill has over 100 publications in the areas of seismology, geology, engineering geology, tectonics, and the applications of these subjects to earthquake safety, response and engineering, as well as to nuclear weapons testing and test monitoring, treaty verification and compliance.

Career Experience:

  • 2012-2019: Senior Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards of the U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.
  • 2003-2012: 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, B