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MSH, April 1981

View of Mount St. Helens from the north in April 1981, with Spirit Lake in the middle ground (Photograph by Lyn Topinka).

MSH, August 1984

View of Mount St. Helens from the north in August 1984 (Photograph by Lyn Topinka). The fireweed was among the first plantlife to reappear after the devastation on May 18, 1980.


Tilling photo

Born in Shanghai, China, Bob Tilling grew up in southern California (near San Diego). He received his BA from Pomona College, and a Ph.D. in geology from Yale University, before joining the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1962. Dr. Tilling has worked as a volcanologist for nearly 25 years, beginning with his assignment in 1972 to the USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), becoming its Scientist-in-Charge in 1975. He later served (1976-81) as the Chief of the Office of Geochemistry and Geophysics, at USGS' headquarters in Reston, Virginia, and was in charge of the USGS studies before, during, and after the 18 May 1980 catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens. Thus, Bob is no stranger to hazardous impacts of plate tectonics.

Since "rotating back" to a research position in 1982, Dr. Tilling resumed his studies of eruptive phenomena and associated hazards in the U.S. and abroad. He has written many articles -- technical and general-interest-- and has served as an invited consultant to a number of foreign countries (e.g., Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Indonesia, and Mexico). In February 1995, Bob agreed once again to accept a management position: Chief Scientist of the USGS Volcano Hazards Team, which is responsible for monitoring the active volcanoes in the U.S. and assessing their potential hazards.

Since 1987, Bob has worked at the USGS' western regional center in Menlo Park, California; he resides with his wife, Susan, in the foothills of the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. They have two grown daughters, Bobbi and Karen, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. When not studying volcanoes, Bob enjoys sculpting, hiking, playing racquetball, listening to music (classical and country), and tasting of fine wines.


This publication is one of a series of general interest publications prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey to provide information about the earth sciences, natural resources, and the environment. To obtain a catalog of additional titles in the series "General Interest Publications of the U.S. Geological Survey," write:

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Last updated: 06.25.97