About This Website

Peter Langdon Ward

This website was written by Dr. Peter Langdon Ward, a geophysicist, who retired from the United States Geological Survey in 1998 after 27 years studying volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics, and regional geology and as a leader in developing the U.S. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

In 2006, he found well-documented evidence that there was major volcanism at the end of the last ice age, implying that volcanism may have caused the warming. This was an enigma because major explosive volcanoes are well observed to cause cooling. He realized that understanding this enigma might lead to important insights into climate change. So he gave up most other activities, devoting nearly full-time effort, working systematically across relevant aspects of the fields of volcanology, glaciology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric physics, basic physics, spectral physics, and quantum electrodynamics.


  • 1965: BA Dartmouth College
  • 1967: MA Columbia University
  • 1970: Ph.D. Columbia University
  • 1970: Project Director for developing 13 ultra-high-gain broad-band, long-period seismic systems and installing them in 5 countries for monitoring nuclear tests.
  • 1971-1975: Project Director to develop, install, and demonstrate a volcano early warning system relaying data from 5 countries through the ERTS satellite.
  • 1973-1975: Developer, Center for Seismic Studies in the Nicaraguan government.
  • 1974-1979: Member, Advisory Panel for Magma Energy Research, Sandia National Labs.
  • 1975-1977: Chief, Branch of Seismology, which became Branch of Earthquake Mechanics and Prediction. Led group of 150 scientists and support staff.
  • 1977-1978: Coordinator, Earthquake Prediction Program. Led development of strategic plans for the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program and guided development of the program.
  • 1977-1979: Member, Geophysical Prediction Panel of the Geophysics Study Committee, National Academy of Sciences
  • 1981: Executive Program, University of California at Davis
  • 1984-1989: Member, inter-agency working group on research drilling into Novarupta vent, Katmai, Alaska.
  • 1990: Conceived of, wrote, produced, raised funding for a magazine distributed in 41 newspapers and 3.3 million copies about earthquakes in northern California and what people can do about them. Received Public Affairs Award of the Department of Interior, highest award of the National Association of Government Communicators, and was a Finalist for Federal Employee of the Year Award in 1991. (PDF)
  • 1994-1999: Associate Editor, Bulletin of the Geological Society of America.
  • 1977-1998: Member, Working Group on Crisis Management, under Committee on Information and Communication within OSTP.
  • 1997-1998: Member, Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction under the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
  • 1997-1998: Member, Disaster Information Task Force requested by Vice President Gore to determine the feasibility of a Global Disaster Information Network. (PDF)
  • 1997-1998: Chairman, Working Group on Natural Disaster Information Systems under the Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction (SNDR) of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). (PDF)
  • 2001-2003: Chair, Board of Trustees, Partnership for Public Warning, improving public alert and notification of natural and man-made disasters. (PDF) (More reports by the Partnership for Public Warning)

Selected Publications

  • Ward, P. L., 2010, Understanding volcanoes may be the key to controlling global warming: Society of Vacuum Coaters Bulletin, v. Summer, p. 26-34. (PDF)
  • Ward, P. L., 2009, Sulfur dioxide initiates global climate change in four ways: Thin Solid Films, v. 517, no. 11, p. 3188-3203. (PDF) (Table-S1) (Table-S1 References)
  • Ward, P. L., 1995, Subduction cycles under western North America during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, in Miller, D. M., and Busby, C., eds., Jurassic Magmatism and Tectonics of the North American Cordillera, Geological Society of America Special Paper 299, p. 1-45. (PDF)
  • Ward, P. L., and Pitt, A. M., 1991, Seismic evidence for magma in the vicinity of Mt. Katmai, Alaska: Geophysical Research Letters, 18, p. 1537-1540. (PDF)
  • Ward, P. L., 1991, On plate tectonics and the geological evolution of southwestern North America: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 96, no. B7, p. 12,479-12,496. (PDF)
  • Ward, P. L., 1990, Global data collection and the surveillance of active volcanoes: Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 89, p. 263-267. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., and Page, R. A., 1989, The Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17, 1989: U. S. Geological Survey Pamphlet, 100,000 copies distributed, 16 p. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., 1981, Earthquake Prediction: McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, McGraw Hill. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., 1979, Earthquake prediction, Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics, 17( 2), p.343-353. PDF
  • Unger, J. D., and Ward, P. L., 1979, A large, deep Hawaiian earthquake — the Honomu, Hawaii event of April 26, 1973: Seismological Society of America Bulletin, 69(6), p. 1771-1781. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., 1978, Earthquake Prediction: in Geophysical Predictions, National Academy of Sciences, p. 37-46. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., Gibbs, James, Harlow, D. H., and Aburto, A. Q., 1974, Aftershocks of the Managua, Nicaragua, earthquake and the tectonic significance of the Tiscape fault: Seismological Society of America Bulletin, 64, p. 1017-1029. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., Endo, E. T., Harlow, D. H., Allen, R. V., and Eaton, J. P., 1974, A new method for monitoring global volcanic activity: in Third Earth Resources Technology Satellite 1 Symposium: NASA SP 351, 1, p. 681-690.
  • Endo, E. T., Ward, P. L., Harlow, D. H., Allen, R. V., and Eaton, J. P., 1974, A prototype global volcano surveillance system monitoring seismic activity and tilt: Bulletin Volcanologique, 38(2), p. 315-344. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., and Gregersen, Soren, 1973, Comparison of earthquake locations determined with data from a network of stations and small tripartite arrays on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii: Seismological Society of America Bulletin, 63, p. 679-711. PDF
  • Brown, R. D., Ward, P. L., and Plafker, George, 1973, Geologic and seismologic aspects of the December 23, 1972 earthquakes at Managua, Nicaragua: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 838, 34 p.
  • Ward, P. L., 1973, A prototype global volcano surveillance system and other studies in Central America: Bulletin Volcanologique, 37(3), p. 438-442.
  • French, B. M., Muller, E. H., and Ward, P. L., 1972, Savonoski Crater, Alaska: A possible meteorite impact structure: Meteoritics, 7, p. 97-108. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., 1972, Microearthquakes: Prospecting tool and possible hazard in the development of geothermal resources: Geothermics, 1, p. 3-12. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., 1971, New interpretation of the geology of Iceland: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 82, no. 11, p. 2991-3012. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., and Bjornsson, S., 1971, Microearthquakes, swarms, and the geothermal areas of Iceland: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 76, p. 3953-3982. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., and Jacob, K. H., 1971, Microearthquakes in the Ahuachapan geothermal field, El Salvador, Central America: Science, 173. p. 328-330. PDF
  • Tobin, D. L., Ward, P. L., and Drake, C. L., 1969, Microearthquakes in the Rift Valley of Kenya: Geological Society of America Bulletin, 80, 2043-2046. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., Pálmason, G., and Drake, C., 1969, Microearthquake survey and the mid-Atlantic ridge in Iceland: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 74, no. 2, p. 665-684. PDF
  • Ward, P. L., and Matumoto, Toshimatsu, 1967, A summary of volcanic and seismic activity in Katmai National Monument, Alaska: Bulletin Volcanologique, 31, p. 107-129. PDF
  • Matumoto, Toshimatsu, and Ward, P. L., 1967, Microearthquake study of Mt. Katmai and vicinity, Alaska: Journal of Geophysical Research, 72(10), p. 2557-2568. PDF

Last updated on April 29th, 2021,    © 2021 Peter L. Ward. All Rights Reserved