Dr. Walter J. Arabasz, Research Professor Emeritus of Geology and Geophysics and former director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, will be presented with the Seismological Society of America (SSA) 2015 Frank Press Public Service Award for his extraordinary public service in modernizing, expanding and promoting seismic monitoring for public safety in the United States. The award will be presented during the SSA annual meeting in Reno, Nevada, April 20–22, 2016.
The Frank Press Public Service Award is presented each year to an individual, group of individuals, or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of public safety or public information relating to seismology.
Dr. Arabasz began his career at the University of Utah in 1974 and was appointed director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations in 1985, a position he held until his retirement from university in 2010.
He played a leading role in motivating the Utah State Legislature to create the Utah Seismic Safety Commission and in helping to build an effective state earthquake program.
During a 15-year period leading up to congressional authorization of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) in 2000, Dr. Arabasz was a key player in laying the groundwork for and shaping the vision of the ANSS. He then worked to implement elements of the ANSS in Utah, in the Intermountain West region, and nationally. He has served on the national Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction, providing guidance and oversight to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.
Of particular note in his award nominations was Dr. Arabasz’s efforts following the 2007 Crandall Canyon, Utah mine collapse. Dr. Arabasz assisted experts on both the state and national levels to reach a better understanding of the circumstances of the collapse and the implications for the larger issue of mine safety. He also assisted the media and public in gaining a greater awareness and understanding of mining-induced seismicity.