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Andrew Lawson

Andrew Lawson
Born (1861-07-25)July 25, 1861
Anstruther, Scotland
Died June 16, 1952(1952-06-16) (aged 90)
Nationality Scotland
Fields Geology
Institutions University of California, Berkeley
Known for Report on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake
Notable awards Penrose Medal (1938)
Andrew Cowper Lawson

(July 25, 1861–June 16, 1952) was a professor of geology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the editor and co-author of the 1908 report on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake which became known as the "Lawson Report". He was also the first person to identify and name the San Andreas Fault in 1895, and after the 1906 quake, the first to delineate the entire length of the San Andreas Fault which previously had been noted only in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also named the Franciscan Complex.

Lawson was born on July 25, 1861 in Anstruther, Scotland. He moved to Hamilton, Canada with his parents at age six. In 1883, he received his B.A. degree in natural science from the University of Toronto. He worked for the Geological Survey of Canada while pursuing his graduate degrees. He received his M.A. from the University of Toronto in 1885, and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1888.

In 1890, he left the Geological Survey of Canada to work as a consulting geologist in Vancouver. In October of the same year, he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Mineralogy and Geology at the University of California in Berkeley. He became a full professor in 1892, and a Professor Emeritus from 1928 to his death on June 16, 1952.

Professor Lawson was a consulting geologist for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s.

His home in the La Loma Park area of the Berkeley Hills in Berkeley, California, now called the "Lawson House", was especially designed for him by noted architect Bernard Maybeck to withstand earthquakes.[1] The house is an officially designated local landmark.

The mineral Lawsonite is named for him, as is the Lawson Adit, originally a mining construction research tunnel on UC Berkeley's campus. During the Cold War, it was used to house special equipment to monitor Soviet nuclear tests. It's currently used to house seismological instruments.


  1. ^  
  • The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906: Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission, Andrew C. Lawson, chairman, Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication 87, 2 vols. (1908) - Available online at this USGS webpage.

External links

  • UC Berkeley - Lawson Biography
  • Guide to the Andrew C. Lawson Papers at The Bancroft Library
  • The Lawson House
  • Mary K. Miller: Exploratorium
  • Discoverer of the San Andreas Fault
  • Great Scots: Lawson
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
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