For some "light reading" over the winter break, I have enjoyed a read of oral histories of Clarence Allen (Caltech) and Robert Wallace (USGS).
EARTHQUAKES, MINERALS AND ME: WITH THE USGS, 1942-1995 by Robert E. Wallace; Oral History Interviews With Stanley Scott; USGS Open-File Report 96-260
Connections EERI Oal History Series: Clarence Allen with interviewer Stanley Scott
CLARENCE R. ALLEN (1925-2021) INTERVIEWED BY DAVID A. VALONE Caltech archives. This latter one has a bit more about Caltech and is slightly less polished than the first.
Maybe I at times too sentimental, but I found these personal and scientific histories throught provoking and inspiring, not only for their tellings of important steps in the history of earthquake science and service, but also for their modest, laconic, and matter of fact story telling. I am also fortunate to have substantial memories of interacting with both of them personally and also of the transition at the end of their careers and the beginning of mine (I entered graduate school at Stanford University in Fall 1989). I also appreciate the effort of EERI to accumulate those and other oral histories.
One thing that comes to mind is that it would be nice to include some histories from women who have contributed in these areas. I will work on that for a future blog post.
Bob Wallace was inspiring as an earthquake geologist. I followed some of his work quite closely as I shared an obsession with geomorphic indicators of faulting, although certainly with less of an impact...
Just a couple of examples from his papers:
- 1949 - Wallace, R. E., Structure of a portion of the San Andreas rift in southern California: Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, v. 60, n. 4, p. 781-806.. This is cited as one of the earliest focused mapping efforts along the San Andreas Fault. He mapped substantial offset along the San Andreas Fault and also worried about the fault zone core and interactions of the drainage network with the fault zone. At one point, I colored the detailed map to appreciate it better.
- 1968 - Wallace, R. E., Notes on stream channels offset by the San Andreas fault, southern Coast Ranges, California, in Dickinson, W. R., and Grantz, Arthur, eds., Proceedings of conference on geologic problems of San Andreas fault system: Stanford University Publications in Geological Science, v. 11, p. 6-21.. This was a landmark in my mind as he noted offsets along the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain as indicators of short and longer term indicators of recurrent fault slip. It was in a somewhat difficult to find publication. But, being around Stanford University (and having to move out of the Geology Corner after the Loma Prieta Earthquake), there were numerous copies to be found. Figures 6 and 7 of the histograms of numbers of channels with certain offset sizes was something we followed up on a fair bit.
- 1990 - Wallace, R. E., (editor) The San Andreas Fault System, California: U. S. Geological Survey Prof. Paper 1515, 283 p.. This was his magnum opus. I was lucky once to meet him in his office at USGS Menlo Park and he asked if I had a copy yet. I did not even though I had stared at it. He reached into his filing cabinet and gave me his copy! I should have asked him to sign it or something but I certainly treasure that copy. It has now been rebuilt a few times...
- 1992 - Wallace, R. E., Ground-squirrel mounds and patterned ground along the San Andreas fault in central California: U. S. Geological Survey, Open-file report n.91-149, p. 1-21.. This was a modest contribution, but I had a couple of conversations with him about it as we shared our enthusiasm for the Carrizo Plain. In his related GSA presentation, he even mentioned me as someone who might pick it up! Scared the crap out of me. We never really did a systematic effort on this but it remains a fascinating problem. I talk about it with people every time I get to the Carrizo Plain.
One of my San ANdreas Fault tour videos over the Carrizo Plain. Hillshades produced by me from the B4 project at OpenTopography.
I did not interact with Clarence Allen as much as I did with Bob Wallace, but I did have a few nice conversations with him. I think he was more serious in the conversations than I was. They main ones were when I was thinking about going to Caltech to work with Kerry Sieh. Clarence and I talked about science, but also about trout fishing. I regret never taking him up on an invite to fish in the San Bernardino Mountains. I think my father had fished some of the same places there around and below Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear Lake.
Two papers among many I would like to highlight from Clarence:
- Allen, C. R. (1968). The tectonic environments of seismically active and inactive areas along the San Andreas fault system. Proceedings of Conference of Geologic Problems of San Andreas Fault System, 5(1496), 70–80.. This stands as an important first order characterization of the San Andreas Fault system and the recognition that the geology was an important control on the current behavior of the system. I have used Figure 1 here and there over the years when I kick of talks on the San Andreas Fault.
- Geological Criteria for Evaluating Seismicity: Address as Retiring President of The Geological Society of America, Miami Beach, Florida, November 1974 CLARENCE R. ALLEN GSA Bulletin (1975) 86 (8): 1041–1057. This is a classic that helps to introduce the concepts of earthquake geology and the value of the geologic record in the study of recently active faults.