Dr. Brian Atwater Honored as the 2023 Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to recognize Dr. Brian F. Atwater, Scientist Emeritus of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Affiliate Professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, with the 2023 Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal.

Dr. Atwater is best known for identifying present-day earthquake and tsunami hazards that are evidenced in recent geologic history. He pioneered work of this kind in the Cascadia region of northwestern North America, and he also has contributed to hazard assessments in Chile, Japan, Southeast Asia, Pakistan, and the northeast Caribbean. Much of the overseas work was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Fulbright Program.

Dr. Atwater became a fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1999 and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. His publications include a USGS book prepared jointly with researchers in Japan, about Japanese written records of a Cascadia tsunami in January 1700.  An earlier report, cowritten with Eileen Hemphill-Haley, won the Kirk Bryan Award of the Geological Society of America. Dr. Atwater has served on study committees of the National Research Council and on a board that oversees the application of science to public policy on water and fish in California.

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in geology in 1974 at Stanford University while beginning a career with the USGS. His doctoral dissertation, completed in 1980 at the University of Delaware, focused on tideland geology in central California that later helped him recognize signs of prehistoric earthquakes in Cascadia. His USGS work has also included studies of granitic rocks and glacial-lake deposits near Grand Coulee Dam.

"Brian Atwater's innovative work as a geoscientist, his mentoring of other scientists, and his engagement with geoscience societies and the public constitute a remarkable contribution to our professional community and wider society," said AGI President Dr. Jonathan Price. "He has not only revolutionized our understanding of geologic history but provided a model of excellence for emerging geoscience professionals."

"Brian has relayed the implications of his research in ways that have increased community resilience to earthquake hazards," said Dr. Robert Witter, USGS Research Geologist, in nominating Dr. Atwater for the award. "He has helped build a sustainable culture of preparedness in a region that has no modern memory of giant earthquakes or tsunamis, and he has shared the lessons learned in Cascadia with international scientists facing similar risks."

"Earth science contributes to public safety by identifying and clarifying natural hazards," Dr. Atwater remarked. "I thank AGI for highlighting this kind of research."
Dr. Atwater will receive the Milling Medal as a virtual participant in the IMAGE (International Meeting for Applied Geoscience & Energy) meeting, hosted by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and American Association of Petroleum Geologists in conjunction with SEPM-Society for Sedimentary Geology, on August 27-September 1, 2023, in Houston, Texas.

The Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal is a lifetime achievement award given in recognition of an individual's high-quality basic and applied science achievements in the Earth sciences. The award, established in 1999, was named in late 2006. Dr. Marcus Milling was an ardent and tireless champion of geoscience education, policy, and information services who served as AGI's Executive Director from 1992 until July of 2006, when he transitioned to a Senior Advisor role.

AGI directly, or in cooperation with its Member Societies, bestows a number of awards each year to recognize particular excellence in the geosciences. In addition, AGI works with its Member Societies to foster nominations of deserving geoscientists for consideration in a number of National Science Awards. To learn more about AGI awards such as the Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal, visit https://www.americangeosciences.org/awards

About AGI
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI), a federation of scientific and professional associations representing over a quarter-million geoscientists, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to serving the geoscience community and addressing the needs of society. AGI headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia.
AGI Contact:
Geoff Camphire, Communications