Star seismologist sizes up Seattle’s ‘Really Big One’

Lucy Jones
Earthquake expert Lucy Jones says Pacific Northwest residents tend to be less motivated than Californians to prepare for a strong earthquake because the dearth of seismic shocks leads to “normalization bias” and complacency. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle

When it comes to taking earthquakes seriously, Seattle’s problem may be that the city doesn’t get enough of them.

That’s one way of putting the assessment from Lucy Jones, a pioneering seismologist from Southern California who’s been called the “Beyoncé of Earthquakes.”

She earned that title by dint of decades’ worth of research and outreach at Caltech and the U.S. Geological Survey, particularly in her role as a risk reduction planner and the lead developer of the “Great ShakeOut” earthquake preparedness drill.

Since her retirement from USGS in 2016, Jones has been focusing on ramping up her own institute, the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, and writing a soon-to-be-published book titled “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us.”

This week she came to Seattle to give talks at City Hall and at the University of Washington, recapping her work on Los Angeles’ “Resilience by Design” program.

Get the full text on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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