Known as “the Earthquake Lady” and the public voice of earthquake science and safety in California, Dr. Lucy Jones and earthquakes have been intertwined since she was two years old. Her earliest memory is of her mother leading her family to a hallway and sheltering them in their home in Ventura after a quake struck nearby Los Angeles.
In 1976 she earned a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Brown University, taking her first geology course her senior year and falling in love with the topic. Enrolling in MIT in the late 1970s she was advised to study foreshocks with the hopes of being able to study the Haicheng earthquake in China, which she was able to do starting in 1979. She finished up her doctoral work in 1981.
After two years of post-doctoral research at Columbia University, she joined the United States Geological Survey and was stationed at the Seismological Laboratory of the CIT. She has worked in Pasadena for the varying turns her career has taken.
She is the author of over 100 papers including publishing the first paper to use statistical analysis to predict the likelihood that any given trembler will be followed by a bigger one. This is dependent on the location and interaction with the fault system and not on the magnitude of the first quake.
In 2005, she shifted her work from research to science advisor for risk reduction at the USGS including scenario development to create a comprehensive depiction of the probable consequences of catastrophic natural disasters including Shake Out, a program to help prepare for a quake along the San Andreas fault.
In 2014, Dr. Jones served as the Science Advisor for Seismic Safety to the Mayor and the City of Los Angeles. Her consensus approach involved assembling task forces to develop solutions informed by the best available science and engineering, and convening stakeholders in the state’s utilities to address vulnerabilities.
At the end of March 2016, Jones left the USGS with plans to start a non-profit that will promote earthquake preparedness to legislators based on the success of her advocacy for retrofitting in Los Angeles.
Written by Angela Goad