Brain Drain Perhaps Worse Than Suggested

The brain drain situation at the U.S. Geological Survey is perhaps worse than Lee Dye suggests ("Talk of Killing U.S. Quake Agency Rattles Geologists," Sept. 13). All those official pronouncements about "senior scientists sitting at their desks" and "getting scientists back into the field" camouflage the loss of the young scientists who would have been the future super-achievers. Dr. Tom Heaton can move on into academia as many Geological Survey luminaries have in the past and continue to contribute.

Dye's conservative friend who was happy that the Geological Survey would be weaker and thus "easier to finish killing off" is doubtless among those who don't know how necessary geological knowledge is and don't realize how much money the federal and state surveys have and can save the taxpayer. Los Angeles County has spent and is spending a lot of money because mapping by the Geological Survey of landslides near Portuguese Bend was ignored. Other potential drains on the taxpayer have been averted because the example of Portuguese Bend made so obvious the necessity of checking the stability of the ground before building.

Los Angeles has such a wonderful setting. The high mountains getting a little higher with each earthquake. The ocean trying to reshape the coastline with each crashing wave. The arroyos and rivers tumultuously flooding after one of our infrequent downpours, inundating the houses built on the lowlands. This is a beautiful, exciting, dynamic place to live. We'll all live a little better if we have the scientific data from the Geological Survey to help us cope.


Van Nuys

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