UMC Links

Yellowstone Expert Gets Big Honor

University of Utah geophysicist Robert Smith in the field.

July 19, 2011 – University of Utah geophysicist Robert B. Smith, a leading expert on earthquakes and volcanism in the Yellowstone National Park region, has been honored with the 2011 John Wesley Powell Award from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Smith received word of the award this week from USGS Director Marcia McNutt, who told him he was being honored for his noteworthy contributions to the agency’s mission and objectives. Smith is a University of Utah professor emeritus and research professor of geophysics, and a coordinating scientist at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory run jointly by the USGS, the University of Utah and National Park Service.

The award is named for John Wesley Powell, who led a pioneering exploration of the Colorado River and served as the second director of the USGS from 1881 to 1894.

McNutt praised Smith for his work on the causes and effects of earthquakes, for operation of the network that records quakes in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, for his role with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and for devoting “considerable time and energy toward educating the public, civil and emergency response authorities and politicians on earthquake and volcano hazards.”