Bolt, Bruce A. 1930-2005

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BOLT, Bruce A. 1930-2005

(Bruce Alan Bolt)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born February 15, 1930, in Largs, Australia; died of pancreatic cancer, July 21, 2005, in Oakland, CA. Seismologist, educator, and author. Bolt was a leading seismologist who focused his research and writings on earthquake preparedness rather than prediction. Born in Australia, he attended the University of Sydney, where he earned a B.Sc. in 1952, a M.Sc. in 1956, and a Ph.D. in 1959. Originally a mathematician, he taught this subject at his alma mater until 1962, but became interested in seismology while working on mathematical models of the interior of the planet. His work led to his invitation to teach at the University of California at Berkeley, where he also served as director of the Berkeley Seismology Laboratory from 1963 until his 1989 retirement. California, a highly populated and seismically active state, was an ideal place for Bolt's research. By studying the history of earthquake activity in the region, as well as data from motion sensors, Bolt carried out research that helped scientists better understand how rock and soil composition affected the power, distance, and direction of earthquakes from their epicenters. As a member and former chair of the California Seismic Safety Commission, he also helped prepare legislation regarding architectural safety requirements and for the Southern California and Bay Area Earthquake Projects. Unlike many seismologists, Bolt did not pursue research in earthquake prediction; rather, he felt the best remedy in preventing deaths and building damage was in the area of construction codes and building in appropriate areas based on where the highest risk for damage was. After retiring from his laboratory, Bolt continued to teach at Berkeley and serve as a consultant until his death. A former president of the Seismological Society of America, he was the author of several books, including Nuclear Explosions and Earthquakes: The Parted Veil (1975), Earthquakes: A Primer (1978; fifth edition, 2003), Inside the Earth (1982), and From Earthquake Acceleration to Seismic Displacement (1996).



Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2005, p. B11.

New York Times, July 28, 2005, p. C19.