Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
USGS Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center Leaders*
* Leaders’ titles varied through time, depending on the changes in administrative structure within the USGS. The first title was “office chief;” it later became “branch chief.” In the 1990s the title became “team chief scientist.” In 2010, the name changed to “science center chief.”
Gil Corwin was the only leader who was headquartered in Washington, D.C. All the others were stationed in Menlo Park, California.
Beginnings of the USGS Marine Geology Program
First Survey program that was a cooperative effort between two USGS divisions, Geologic and Water Resources.
First program with its “leader” stationed in Menlo Park, California rather than in Washington, D.C.
The USGS did not become involved in marine geology programs in a formal way until the early 1960s.
Dr. Orlo Childs (1914-1996) was selected as the first office chief. He was stationed in Menlo Park, California, with Gilbert Corwin as his liaison in Washington, D. C. However, instead of a $3 million budget, as originally promised, Childs ended up with $300,000 – a real shoestring budget. With Winnie Trollman as his secretary and Tau Rho Alpha, the three of them comprised the new marine geology program.
When Childs left the program, the headquarters were temporarily set up in Washington, D.C. with Gilbert Corwin as the head. In 1965, Parke D. Snavely, Jr. (1916-2003) agreed to take over on the condition that he would be headquartered in Menlo Park. From that time on, the marine geology office chief (later branch chief) was stationed in California.
The beginnings of in-house newsletters
A noteworthy innovation within the USGS began with the Branch of Pacific Marine Geology during Ed Clifton’s tenure as branch chief. Ed was concerned that communications within the branch were not being handled efficiently. So he founded the Pacific Marine Bulletin, a weekly Xeroxed newsletter that was distributed to every mailbox. As branch chief, Ed was the newsletter’s publisher. The branch secretary, Dena Windham, was designated as the editor; producing the paper became part of her duties.
In the inaugural edition of the Bulletin, May 11, 1979, such news items concerned cruises on the Sea Sounder with Jack Vedder, Dave McCulloch and Dave Rubin; announcement of the “Introduction to Multics” course for computer users, and the upcoming second annual Pick and Anchor Social.
After an in-house contest, the winning logo for the newsletter was submitted by Tau Rho Alpha, marine geology’s illustrator extraordinaire. The logo first appeared in the June 15, 1979 Bulletin. The runners-up logos, submitted by Mark Holmes, Lee Bailey, Doug Rearic, and Ed Clifton, also appeared in this issue.
With the advent of the Internet, the marine geology newsletters became incorporated in the online newsletter Sound Waves.
The associate chief geologists’ office in Menlo Park produced the “GD News” for the entire USGS Western Region, starting circa 1990. The western region’s newsletter eventually morphed into a biweekly e-mail entitled “WE” (acronym for “Western Exposure”).
All this from the humble beginnings started by our own H. Edward Clifton.