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Thomas Holzer

Engineering Geologist

Contact Info

Short Biography

Dr. Thomas L. Holzer is an engineering geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. He has a B.S.E. degree in geological engineering from Princeton University (1965) and a M.S. degree in hydrology (1966) and a Ph.D. degree in geology from Stanford University (1970). He is a certified engineering geologist in the State of California, and a consulting professor at Stanford University in the Departments of Geological and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has broad experience with earthquake hazards as well as ground failure in general. He has participated in numerous post-earthquake investigations and chaired the committee that wrote The Plan to coordinate NEHRP post-earthquake investigations (2003). He has served as a consultant to the State of California during reviews of residential earthquake insurance rate applications based on earthquake loss models. He was a 2012 recipient of the Department of Interior Distinguished Service Award; the1998 Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer; and the 1995 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Hydrogeology Division of the Geological Society of America.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Natural Hazardsearthquake preparedness
Natural Hazardsearthquakes
Natural Hazardshazards
Natural Hazardsliquefaction

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Earthquake-induced Liquefaction Hazard Mapping and Research

Image of Current Focus for Earthquake-induced Liquefaction Hazard Mapping and Research

My current research is focussed on (1)  improving methodologies for mapping earthquake-induced liquefaction hazard, and (2) understanding the seismological implications of liquefaction caused by the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes . I am developing a probabilistic approach  based on the liquefaction potential index (LPI). We have "reverse engineered" this approach to use the liquefaction observed in 1811-1812 in Arkansas and Missouri to infer the ground shaking during the earthquake and the magnitudes of these preinstrumental earthquakes.  I also have conducted extensive research on land subsidence caused by withdrawal of ground water. My particular area of interest is earth fissures and surface faulting.


Professional Memberships and Honors


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science-Member, 1968-present
  • American Geophysical Union-Member, 1968-present
  • Earthquake Engineering Research Institute-Member, 1999-present
  • Geological Society of America-Fellow, 1967-present
  • Seismological Society of America-Member, 2005-present
  • Sigma Xi-Member, 1965-present



  • U.S. Department of Interior Distinguished Service Award 2012
  • Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists Publication (Best Paper) Award 2011
  • New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Annual Distinguished Lecturer 2008
  • Association of Bay Area Governments Appreciation Certificate Project Impact 2001
  • City of Oakland, California Appreciation Certificate Project Impact 1999
  • Association of Engineering Geologists/Geological Society of America R. H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer 1998
  • Geological Society of America Hydrogeology Division Distinguished Service Award 1995
  • U.S. Department of Interior Public Service Award 1991
  • U.S. Geological Survey Appreciation Certificate (Loma Prieta Earthquake) 1990
  • U.S. Geological Survey Superior Service Award 1981

Contact Information

Thomas Holzer
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-329-5163 - Fax
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