William Ellsworth earns the top honor in seismology

WILLIAM ELLSWORTH, professor of geophysics at Stanford Earth, has won the Seismological Society of America’s highest honor, the Harry Fielding Reid Medal.

William Ellsworth
William Ellsworth

Ellsworth is being recognized for his critical contributions to earthquake location, earthquake nucleation, earthquake recurrence and induced seismicity research.

With Felix Waldhauser, Ellsworth developed the double-difference (DD) earthquake location method, which has influenced the field of seismology since the publication of the seminal study in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America in 2000. The DD method has been used in thousands of investigations to precisely locate earthquakes, revealing the intricacies of fault geometry deep below ground.

Among Ellsworth’s other notable research is his work on earthquake foreshock sequences and possible earthquake nucleation phases, and more recently a body of work on the causes and consequences of induced seismicity. He is the co-director of the Stanford Center for Induced and Triggered Seismicity.

His work on understanding the causes of and solutions to induced seismicity attests to his scientific creativity, productivity and outstanding mentorship, according to geophysicist Mark Zoback, who nominated Ellsworth for the award.

Ellsworth began his career at the U.S. Geological Survey in 1971. He was chief of the Branch of Seismology of the U.S. Geological Survey from 1982 to 1988 and chief scientist of the USGS Earthquake Hazards Team from 2002 to 2005. During his career at USGS and Stanford, Ellsworth has served on numerous review and advisory panels, including his current position as chair of the USGS’s Earthquake Early Warning External Working Group.

Among his many honors, Ellsworth is a past president of the Seismological Society of America, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Department of the Interior.

Read more on the Stanford Earth website.