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Report on Obituary Notices (Unknown) — April 2009

Obituary Notices

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 34, no. 4 (April 2009)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Obituary Notices (Unknown) Death of Tom Simkin, founder and Director of the Global Volcanism Program until 1995

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Obituary Notices (Unknown) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 34:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200904-600400

Obituary Notices


Lat Unknown, Unknown; summit elev. m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Tom Simkin, who founded and for 28 years served as director of the Global Volcanism Program, died on 10 June at the age of 75 from complications after surgery for esophageal cancer, an ailment diagnosed ~6 months earlier. Tom saw our reporting on Earth's volcanism evolve from brief reports transmitted by postcard to its current formats in print and in various forms on the web. He began by incorporating previous databases, and enlisting volcano watchers to share their observations with the Smithsonian. This led to the most comprehensive database available on global volcanism during the past 10,000 years (the Holocene). This allowed Tom to write authoritative, pioneering papers describing the pace and character of active global volcanism. He authored two editions of the sought-after reference book, Volcanoes of the World, and had been collaborating in retirement on the third edition, an effort that will continue in his absence.

He received a bachelors degree from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. from Princeton University and was known for his field studies on both North Skye in the U.K. and Fernandina and other Galápagos Islands volcanoes. He edited books commemorating the Krakatau 1883 eruption and the Parícutin 1943-52 eruption. He led efforts to create the popular wall map This Dynamic Planet, which plots earthquakes, volcanoes, meteorite impacts, and tectonic plate parameters; the map's latest (2006) edition features a companion website enabling users to prepare customized images. In recognition of his contributions to volcanology, Tom received the Krafft Medal (IAVCEI) in 2004 and was recently awarded the Jefferson Medal from the Virginia Museum of Natural History for 2010.

Geological Summary. Obituary notices for volcanologists are sometimes written when scientists are killed during an eruption or have had a special relationship with the Global Volcanism Program.

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