Lucy Jones

Women in STEM
Lucy Jones

Birth: 1955

Specialty: Seismology

Major Contributions:

Samuel J Heyman Service to America Medal in Citizen Services

Former Secretary, Seismology Section of the American Geophysical Union

Former Director & past chair, Publication Committee of the Seismographical Society of America

Founder and chief scientist at Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society

Image: Wikimedia

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, finishing up her doctoral work in 1981.

After two years of postdoctoral research at Columbia University, she joined the United States Geological Survey and was stationed at the Seismological Laboratory of the CIT. 

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 which has become a worldwide program, known as the Great Shake Out drill to help people globally prepare for earthquakes.

At the end of March 2016, Jones left the USGS to start her own non-profit the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, which supports the application of science in the creation of more resilient communities. Published in 2018, her book, The Big Ones: How natural disasters have shaped us (and what we can do about them focuses on large-scale disasters in the past and how using the knowledge of these disasters can help us be ready for the next “big one”.

More of a listener than a reader? Jones is prepared to help you there as well as she co-hosts “Getting Through It” a podcast focused on the science of disasters and how we can manage the chaos around us that is real life.

Written by Angela Goad


Dr. Lucy Jones

Getting Through It – Podcast

Lucy Jones, Southern California’s ‘earthquake lady,’ wins ‘Oscar’ for government service

Meet Lucy Jones, “the Earthquake Lady”

Wikipedia: Lucy Jones

The Great California Shake Out

Shock Absorber

See Also:

Twitter: @DrLucyJones

In Nomine Terra Calens: In the name of a warming Earth