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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Leaders

About Us

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, until the team officially transfered to Santa Cruz, CA in October of 2011.

PCMSC Leaders
Name Active dates
Orlo Childs (1914-1996) 1962-1963
Gilbert Corwin (d. 1994) 1963-1965
Parke D. Snavely, Jr. (1919-2003) 1965-1970
Jack Schoellhamer (d. 2006) 1970-1974
David W. Scholl 1974-1978
H. Edward Clifton 1978-1982
Robert W. Roland 1982-1983
David Howell 1983-1986
Monty Hampton 1986-1989
David A. Cacchione 1989-1992
Michael E. Field 1992-1996
Michael D. Carr 1996-2001
Homa J. Lee 2001-2002 (9 months)
Tom Parsons 2002-2003 (4 months)
Samuel Y. Johnson 2003-2008
Michael D. Carr 2008-2010
Robert J. Rosenbauer


Guy R. Gelfenbaum 2017-

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.


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