L.A. City Council celebrates the earthquake lady on ‘Dr. Lucy Jones Day’


Happy Lucy Jones Day!

In recognition of her last day at the U.S. Geological Survey, the Los Angeles City Council is honoring the “earthquake lady” for a lifetime of service devoted to Southern California and earthquake preparedness.

USGS Director Suzette Kimball and Deputy Director David Applegate will also be attending Wednesday’s ceremony at City Hall. Angelenos are encouraged to join in recognizing the work Jones has done for the region, officials said.

Colleagues have been celebrating her all week. On Tuesday, her USGS colleague Dale Cox tweeted a photo of her retirement cake.


In her 33 years with the USGS, Jones has dramatically changed the way the Southland prepares for earthquakes. Buildings are safer, first-responders are better equipped and millions of residents have learned that the worst thing to do in an earthquake is to run outside.

READ MORE: Meet Lucy Jones, the Beyoncé of earthquakes

Upon retirement from federal service, Jones plans to create a center that bridges science and policy. She hopes to leverage her earthquake credentials to help policymakers prepare for other natural disasters such as climate change and tsunamis.

A fourth-generation Southern Californian, Jones’ research as a seismologist includes the ShakeOut scenario, which laid out the myriad ways a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas fault would devastate Southern California. Among them: six months without water, explosions at the Cajon Pass where natural gas and petroleum pipelines meet, devastating landslides and more than 1,600 fires.


The report persuaded officials to invest in earthquake-resilient infrastructure. It also gave birth to the annual ShakeOut drill; more than 43 million people around the world last year practiced “drop, cover and hold on.”

Her early research on foreshock series — identifying certain smaller earthquakes as possible harbingers of a bigger one — enabled officials to start issuing earthquake advisories in California.

In 2014, she served as Mayor Eric Garcetti’s science advisor for seismic safety and helped shepherd his landmark proposal to strengthen the city’s buildings and telecommunication and water infrastructure most at risk of failing in a massive earthquake. With her help, the city last year passed the most sweeping retrofitting laws in California history.

Her work earned her a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medal, often referred to as the Oscars of government service. The American Geophysical Union, the Southern California Earthquake Center and many others also praised her achievements in translating science into policy.

“When the big one hits, people will be living because of the work that she has done,” Garcetti said.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the John Ferraro Council Chamber in Los Angeles City Hall.

Follow @RosannaXia for more news about seismic safety.