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About: Peter L. Ward - Detailed Biography

Peter Langdon Ward


Background:   Born August 10, 1943 – Washington, D.C.

Married, four grown children and six grandchildren.

1965   BA   Dartmouth College in Geology with minor in Physics

1967   MA  Columbia University

1970   Ph.D. Columbia University in seismology with minors in geophysics, geomorphology, and structural geology

1981   Executive Program, University of California at Davis

1998   Retired after 27 years with the U.S. Geological Survey


Primary Leadership and Committee Experience:

2004               Testified before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness and Response, concerning ways to rapidly improve public warning systems in America, September 22, 2004.

2001-2004    Chair, Board of Trustees, Partnership for Public Warning, improving public alert and notification of natural and manmade disasters.

1997-1998      Chairman, Working Group on Natural Disaster Information Systems under the Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction (SNDR) of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR), Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the White House.

1997-1998      Member, Disaster Information Task Force requested by Vice President Gore to determine the feasibility of a Global Disaster Information Network.

1997-1998      Member, Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction under CENR within OSTP.

1977-1998      Member, Working Group on Crisis Management, under Committee on Information and Communication within OSTP.

1996-1998      Leader, development of a Real-time Hazards Initiative that integrates hazards programs across all four divisions of the USGS. Provided briefings for Department of Interior leaders, Office of Management and Budget and others.

1996-1998      Chairman, USGS Committee on Serving High‑volume, Rapid Notifications to plan more effective dissemination of real-time information in all 4 Divisions.

1995                 Member, Outreach Benchmark Team of the USGS.

1994-1999      Associate Editor, Bulletin of the Geological Society of America.

1992-1995      Member, Education and Outreach Policy Advisory Board, Southern California Earthquake Center, and Chairman of the Public Information/Affairs Committee.

1990                 Conceived of, wrote, produced, raised $750,000 outside of the government, hired a public-relations firm, and involved more than 100 people in many different agencies in review of a magazine distributed in 41 newspapers and 3.3 million copies about earthquakes in northern California and what people can do about them. Printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Braille. Received Public Affairs Award of the Department of Interior, highest award of the National Association of Government Communicators, and was a Finalist for Federal Employee of the Year Award in 1991.

1984-1989      Member, interagency working group on research drilling into Novarupta vent, Katmai, Alaska.

1984-1988      Member and USGS representative, advisory panel to the Department of Geoscience, University of California, Santa Barbara.

1977-1979      Member, Geophysical Prediction Panel of the Geophysics Study Committee, National Academy of Sciences

1977-1978      Coordinator, Earthquake Prediction Program. Between 1975 and 1978, led development of strategic plans for NEHRP, the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, passed by congress in 1977. Guided program through a tripling of the budget. Briefed Secretary of Interior, the President’s Advisory Panel on Anticipated Advances in Science and Technology, and many others.

1976-1977      Member, Earth Dynamics Advisory Subcommittee, NASA.

1975-1977      Chief, Branch of Seismology, which became Branch of Earthquake Mechanics and Prediction. Led group of 140 scientists and support staff.

1974-1979      Member, Advisory Panel for Magma Energy Research, Sandia National Labs.

1974-1975      Coordinator, Geothermal Research Program within the Branch of Seismology.

1973-1977      Leader, Working Group on Research on Earthquakes and Crustal Movements in Volcanic Regions, International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior.

1973-1978      Member, Committee on the Solid Earth, Pan American Institute of Geography and History, Commission on Geophysics.

1973-1975      Developer, Center for Seismic Studies in the Nicaraguan government. Found USAID and Nicaraguan funding and led training and installation of seismic networks.

1971-1998      Geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California

1970                 Project Director for developing 13 ultra-high-gain broad-band, long-period seismic systems and installing them in 5 countries for monitoring nuclear tests.


Led Development of the following reports by the Partnership for Public Warning:

The Homeland Security Advisory System, a Report to the FBI, April 2002.

Improving the Effectiveness of the Homeland Security Advisory System, July 2002

Developing a Unified All-Hazard Public Warning System, November 2002.

A National Strategy for Integrated Public Warning Policy and Capability, May 2003.

Accessing And Originating Warnings From Consequence Management Tools, May 2003.

The Emergency Alert System (EAS): An Assessment, February 2004.


Other Leadership:

1981-2019      Owner and developer of Happiness Country Kennels, a dog and cat kennel currently boarding, on average, more than 50 animals per night.

1974-1979      Founder and leader of Sviraci, a five-person Balkan folk-dance band.

1963-1964      Vice President, Dartmouth Outing Club

1962                 Hutmaster, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Appalachian Mountain Club. Staff of 7, average of 51 people per night over 4 months.

1959                 As Junior Counselor and Junior Maine Guide, developed Maine Woodsman and Maine Junior Woodsman programs published in The Art of Living Outdoors in Maine, Maine Camp Directors Association, 1961.


Public Relations and Outreach:

Organized and presented eight two-hour public forums in 1989-1990 on earthquake hazard reduction chaired by Congressmen Brown, Campbell, Edwards, Lantos, McDermott, Minetta, Panetta, and Stark.

Testified before the California Seismic Safety Commission, the Ad Hoc Panel on Housing Assistance in Earthquake Disaster Areas of the U.S. House Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, California Assembly Committee on Insurance, and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Gave more than 100 national and local television and radio interviews explaining the USGS earthquake program and about earthquakes. Organized three major press conferences.

Spent dozens of days explaining earthquakes at fairs and symposia.

Featured speaker at more than 50 dinners of professional, civic, and fraternal organizations.

Presented invited lectures at the Smithsonian Institution, Geological Society of Washington, dozens of universities, and at national and international meetings.

Set up 1-800 number and answering service that handled 15,000 telephone calls following a national TV special on earthquakes.

Creator and Chairman of the Great Issues in the Geosciences Lecture Series, Menlo Park, CA, 1989-1995.


Professional Memberships:

1965-Present     American Association for the Advancement of Science

1965-Present     American Geophysical Union

1965-2001         Seismological Society of America

1966-Present    Geological Society of America, Fellow since 1976

2014-Present    American Meteorological Society


Selected Publications:

Ward, P. L., 2020, The Photochemistry of Gas Molecules in Earth’s Atmosphere Determines the Structure of the Atmosphere and the Average Temperature at Earth’s Surface: American Journal of Physical Chemistry, v. 9, no. 3, p. 62-85.

Ward, P. L., 2016, Ozone depletion explains global warming: Current Physical Chemistry, v. 6, no. 4, p. 275-296.

Ward, P. L., 2010, Understanding volcanoes may be the key to controlling global warming: Society of Vacuum Coaters Bulletin, Summer, p. 26-34. Plenary lecture at their national meeting.

Ward, P. L., 2009, Sulfur dioxide initiates global climate change in four ways: Thin Solid Films, v. 517, no. 11, p. 3188-3203.

Ward, P. L., 1995, Subduction cycles under western North America during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras: Geol. Soc. Special Paper 299, p. 1‑45.

Armstrong, R. L., and Ward, P. L., 1994, Late Triassic to earliest Eocene magmatism in the North American Cordillera: Implications for the Western Interior Basin:  Geol. Assoc, Canada Special Paper 39, p. 49‑72.

Armstrong, R. L., and Ward, P. L., 1991, Evolving geographic patterns of Cenozoic magmatism in the North American Cordillera:  the temporal and spatial association of magmatism and metamorphic core complexes: Jour. Geophys. Res., 96, p. 13201‑13224.

Ward, P. L., 1991, On plate tectonics and the geologic evolution of southwestern North America: Jour. Geophys. Res., 96, p. 12479‑12496.

Ward, P. L., and Pitt, A. M., 1991, Seismic evidence for magma in the vicinity of Mt. Katmai, Alaska: Geophys. Res. Letters, 18, p. 1537‑1540.

Ward, P. L., 1990, The Next Big Earthquake in the Bay Area May Come Sooner Than You Think.  Are You Prepared?, Magazine distributed in 2.4 million newspapers and 0.9 million copies distributed on request, 24 p.  In English, Spanish, Chinese, Braille, and Recordings for the Blind.

Ward, P. L., 1990, Global data collection and the surveillance of active volcanoes: Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 89, p. 263‑267.

Ward, P. L., and Page, R. A., 1989, The Loma Prieta earthquake of October 17, 1989: U. S. Geological Survey Pamphlet, 100,000 copies distributed, 16 p.

Ward, P. L., and Ward, K. M., 1982, Learning to live with earthquakes: Terra, 21(1), p. 16‑21.

Ward, P. L., 1981, Earthquake Prediction: McGraw‑Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, McGraw Hill.

Ward, P. L., 1979, Earthquake prediction, Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics, 17( 2), p.343‑353.

Unger, J. D., and Ward, P. L., 1979, A large, deep Hawaiian earth, quake‑‑the Honomu, Hawaii event of April 26, 1973: Seismological Society of America Bulletin, 69(6), p. 1771‑1781.

Ward, P. L., 1978, Workshop on volunteers in the Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program:  U.S. Geological Survey Open‑File Report 78‑336, 273 p.

Ward, P. L., 1978, Earthquake Prediction: in Geophysical Predictions,   National Academy of Sciences, p. 37‑46.

Ward, P. L., ed., 1976, Earthquake prediction studies in southern California ‑ Research in progress June 1976:  U.S. Geological Survey Open‑File Report 76‑456, 152 p.

Ward, P. L., Gibbs, James, Harlow, D. H., and Aburto, A. Q., 1974, Aftershocks of the Managua, Nicaragua, earthquake and the tectonic significance of the Tiscape fault:  Seismological Society of America Bulletin,  64, p. 1017‑1029.

Ward, P. L., Endo, E. T., Harlow, D. H., Allen, R. V., Marquez, Daniel, and Eaton, J. P., 1974, Development and evaluation of a prototype global volcano surveillance system utilizing the ERTS‑1 satellite data collection system:  U.S. Geological Survey Open‑File Report, 165 p., February, 1974.

Ward, P. L., Endo, E. T., Harlow, D. H., Allen, R. V., and Eaton, J. P., 1974, A new method for monitoring global volcanic activity: in Third Earth Resources Technology Satellite‑1 Symposium: NASA SP‑351, 1, p. 681‑690.

Endo, E. T., Ward, P. L., Harlow, D. H., Allen, R. V., and Eaton, J. P., 1974, A prototype global volcano surveillance system monitoring seismic activity and tilt: Bulletin Volcanologique,  38(2), p. 315‑344.

Ward, P. L., and Gregersen, Soren, 1973, Comparison of earthquake locations determined with data from a network of stations and small tripartite arrays on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii:  Seismological Society of America Bulletin,  63, p. 679‑711.

Brown, R. D., Ward, P. L., and Plafker, George, 1973, Geologic and seismologic aspects of the December 23, 1972 earthquakes at Managua, Nicaragua:  U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper  838, 34 p.

Ward, P. L., Harlow, D. H., and Gibbs, J. F., 1973, Location of the main fault that slipped during the Managua earthquake as determined from location of some aftershocks: in Conference on the Managua Earthquake, Proceedings,  Earthquake Engineering Research Institute., 1, p. 89‑96.

Ward, P. L., 1973, A prototype global volcano surveillance system and other studies in Central America: Bulletin Volcanologique, 37(3), p. 438‑442.

French, B. M., Muller, E. H., and Ward, P. L., 1972, Savonoski Crater, Alaska:  A possible meteorite impact structure:   Meteoritics, 7, p. 97‑108.

Ward, P. L., 1972, Microearthquakes:  Prospecting tool and possible hazard in the development of geothermal resources:  Geothermics, 1, p. 3‑12.

Ward, P. L., 1971, New interpretation of the geology of Iceland: Geological Society of America Bulletin, 82, p. 2991‑3012.

Ward, P. L., and Bjornsson, Sveinbjorn, 1971, Microearthquakes, swarms, and the geothermal areas in Iceland:  Journal of Geophysical Research, 76, p. 3953‑3982.

Ward, P. L., and Jacob, K. H., 1971, Microearthquakes in the Ahuachapan geothermal field, El Salvador, Central America:  Science, 173. p. 328‑330.

Tobin, D. L., Ward, P. L., and Drake, C. L., 1969, Microearthquakes in the Rift Valley of Kenya:  Geological Society of America Bulletin, 80, p. 2043.

Ward, P. L., Palmason, Gudmundur, and Drake, C. L., 1969, Microearthquake survey and the mid‑Atlantic Ridge in Iceland:  Journal of Geophysical Research, 74, p. 665‑684.

Ward, P. L., and Matumoto, Toshimatsu, 1967, A summary of volcanic and seismic activity in Katmai National Monument, Alaska: Bulletin Volcanologique, 31, p. 107‑129.

Matumoto, Toshimatsu, and Ward, P. L., 1967, Microearthquake study of Mt. Katmai and vicinity, Alaska:  Journal of Geophysical Research, 72(10), p. 2557‑2568.