Oral History Transcript — Dr. C. Barry Raleigh
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Interview with Dr. C. Barry Raleigh
C. Barry Raleigh; December 16, 1997
ABSTRACT: Discusses childhood and upbringing in Arkansas and Arizona; his undergraduate education at Cal Tech and Pomona College; graduate work at UCLA; his impressions of David Griggs; his postdoc experience in Australia and the geophysics research there; research in earthquakes and high pressure research; his work a Lamont-Doherty and Columbia University; the development of the El Nino model and other climate research; among other topics. Also prominently mentioned are: Lynn Sykes, Mark Kane and Manik Talwani.
TranscriptSession I | Session II
Doel:Is this called...?
Raleigh:It's in Honolulu, but the campus is called Manoa.
Raleigh:A section of Honolulu.
Doel:And I know that you were born on August 11, 1934 at Little Rock, Arkansas, but I don't know about your family and your parents. Who were they, and what did they do?
Raleigh:That's an interesting question. Actually my grandfather owned a grain mill in Little Rock, and my grandmother was a well-educated teacher. She was quite a woman, very involved with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, all that stuff. My father was the vice president of the grain mill. My mother had been a teacher before they married. We moved, actually, from Arkansas when I was eleven years old to Scottsdale, Arizona. Both my sister and I had really dreadful allergies, and Arkansas was not the right place, so they moved, and it really made a big difference.
Doel:What was it like for you when you were still growing up in Little Rock? It sounds like you knew a lot of the activities that your grandparents were involved in.
Raleigh:No, actually, we grew up in Conway.
Raleigh:It was a town north of Little Rock about thirty miles. It's a fairly normal college town. I don't really quite know what to say about it.
Doel:What sort of house did you have when you were growing up?
Raleigh:We had a — We had a big old house set back from the road on Donaghey Avenue, 777 Donaghey, and we had some — My father had pretentions to be a country gentleman, so we had some cows out in back that other people took care of, of course, certainly not my father. He was in the Marine Corps in the First World War. He had been to Culver Military Academy, and being kind of a bad boy, was forced to stay an extra year, and then they started drafting, or trying to get people into the Marine Corps, and they picked him. He went over to France, and was elevated quickly, because of being the only person there that had any training, so he became a captain in the Marine Corps. And then, after that, came back into the grain commodities business in St. Louis, I think, primarily, and then finally my grandfather and he got together, and he worked at his grain mill. But I remember him being gone a lot. He went down to Little Rock for the week, and came back on the weekends. We lived up in Conway, and I had a very reasonable kind of boyhood. We were not as poor as a lot of the people were at that time, which was really, still the Depression period clear up until the time the war started; nothing much to tell you. I used to — Of course, I was one of the bright kids in school. The other one was — is now at the University of Washington, and a wonderful guy. Woodruff, Gene Woodruff, and he and I used to compete to see who had got the highest grades.
Doel:Is this now when you're — Are you thinking of particularly the Scottsdale time?
Raleigh:No, this is still Arkansas.
Doel:Still in Little Rock. Yes.
Raleigh:I read enormously, because I'd had all these allergies. I wasn't terribly well, so I just read constantly. The other thing I did a lot was to make up number games.
Raleigh:You know how you — Add nine to something, and take the two digits that result from the addition, and they add up to nine, but much more — It got more and more complicated. I suppose it's the sort of thing that most of us as kids — scientists — you know, we have a different way of coming at the world. But we left and went to Arizona and it really — It was terrific. I had no more asthma.
Doel:It must have been quite a relief.
Raleigh:Oh, yes. It was tremendous. And I started growing rapidly, and it really was a different life altogether.
Doel:What sort of things do you remember reading?
Raleigh:Oh, my god. I read everything from Lassie books to Edgar Allan Poe. If there was a book around I would pick it up and read it. Actually I used to read the encyclopedia and the dictionary just because they were there.
Doel:Yes. Was there a library in the house?
Raleigh:We didn't have a big library, but I used to go down to the local library, and pick up books — Same thing in Arizona. My grandmother had a substantial library, and I did a lot of reading out of her stuff. It's just a habit. If I'm sitting around at home, and my wife is talking to me, if there's something with printed material on it, I start reading it. It gets me into a lot of trouble.
Doel:It's still a good habit.
Raleigh:Yes, it is.
Doel:Were you getting magazines regularly in the house as well?
Raleigh:Oh, I think just — not anything very demanding. I think they got Life magazine, and that sort of stuff. I don't remember any magazines being a significant component of what I read.
Doel:Yes. I was wondering if you'd seen things like Popular Science or Popular Mechanics when you were growing up as well.
Raleigh:Not at home, although I certainly read them whenever I saw them, but we didn't get it at home. My parents had — were not at all scientifically inclined.
Doel:Did you feel that you had an interest in science when you were growing up?
Raleigh:Oh, yes. Oh, sure. Yes, I loved it. Chemistry sets and all that junk. But it — you know, I didn't like to cut up frogs or anything. It's not that — it certainly was not biologically centered.
Doel:It was more of the physical sciences side?
Raleigh:Natural science, that's right. Yes, yes, exactly.
Doel:How did it work out that you were able — Your family moved to Arizona? What did your father do once he transferred?
Raleigh:Well, then he ended up in the insurance business, when he moved to Scottsdale, when we got there. My mother — I think she had always worked sort of as a substitute teacher, occasionally, only very occasionally, in Arkansas. I don't think she did that in Arizona, but she was pretty talented. She became — She was chairman or head of the State PTA [Parents Teachers Association], and then Chairman of the March of Dimes; that sort of thing. She was a very bright, very attractive, well-spoken woman. Still is. I mean, she's ninety-one and doing well.
Doel:Is that right?
Raleigh:Yes. She was out here about three weeks ago.
Doel:Interesting. Were there favorite teachers that you had, say, when you think about the Arizona period?
Raleigh:There were — Excuse me, my voice is going. There were a few, of course, teachers that you like better than others. Miss Moore, I remember. I think she was kind of attractive, too, probably, which is — fourth grade. In Arizona there were a few, particularly in high school, Mr. McGirr, the science teacher. He really didn't know very much science, but he had such enormous enthusiasm that he overcame his inability to explain actually what was going on.
Doel:It's interesting. It sounds like that was a perception you had back then.
Raleigh:Oh, yes. I knew it then. I mean, you know, you knew you were a lot smarter than Mr. McGirr, but it was all right, perfectly understandable. Mr. Whatcott was the mathematics teacher. He was very good, really excellent. Those two I remember most of all. The others, yes, there was a good, good English teacher. When I was a sophomore, they switched around the English curriculum, and I ended up taking College Preparatory English instead of Sophomore English, and so I had her. Of course, I took it for three years in a row, because they didn't have anything more demanding than that. It was mostly writing. Gosh, what was her name? She was very good, encouraging.
Doel:We can always add names to the transcript.
Raleigh:Yes, yes. I probably —
Doel:If somebody doesn't come to mind.
Raleigh:Miss, Miss Simon. And I remember the football coach, who I liked very much, Coach Hardt.
Doel:Did you play?
Raleigh:Yes, I played.
Raleigh:I had braces until I was in the beginning of the sophomore year, and as soon as they took the braces off, I went out for football, and my mother thought it was not a good idea, but I felt that, you know, I wanted to play. I liked the aggressiveness of football, but I also thought if I didn't do something like that, you know, having the stigma of being the smart kid in school is bad enough, but if you can overcome it by playing sports, you get girls, right? Otherwise they think you're a nerd, so that was, I'm sure, part of the motivation, but certainly only a part of it. I really enjoyed football. It was a great challenge. I wasn't gifted, or it didn't seem so to me anyway, very much naturally, but it was a game you could learn, and I really loved it.
Doel:And after having grown up with asthma —
Raleigh:Yes, that's right.
Doel:— it must have been a real treat.
Raleigh:Yes. And then I — And then I got fairly big, and I — but I especially remember Hardt, because he was tough, and he made us really work hard — all that running, God, it was awful. The heat of Arizona afternoons in August, late August was unbelievable. But he did that for the good reason that he wanted us to be in excellent condition, and to have the sort of confidence that that kind of training and being in that good a condition gives you. Of course, it worked wonders for us. I mean, you know, in timeouts we'd all kind of dance around. The other team would be lying on the ground, right? And we intimidated them. But that experience was important, simply because, you know, you end up doing things that you never would have thought you would ever have done or be able to do. And the amount of work that you had to put into being accomplished was probably the only example I'd had in school of actually having to work very hard.
Doel:It sounds like you were truly challenged in that experience.
Raleigh:That challenged me. Believe me. It challenged me, and, especially coming at it from not having been very athletic in the past. The trouble with the school was that it was a small high school, and Scottsdale was still something of a country town at the time, so I, with sort of a matter of some pride, I guess, by the end of school, never took any books home. We had an hour of study hall where I could do all my homework, and what else are you going to do, right? So I'd just get all the home work done, and then I didn't have to take anything home, but my parents were upset. They were trying to get me to go to a local private school where they thought I would get more of a challenge, but it was a boys' school, and I said no. Why would I do that? This is crazy. So I resisted successfully, and I'm sure I paid a price for it later. It was much harder, I mean, going from a place like that to Cal Tech [California Institute of Technology].
Doel:I can imagine.
Raleigh:It was dreadful. It was not easy.
Doel:Did you get a chance to travel much around Arizona, or the United States when you were growing up?
Raleigh:Not really, no. We traveled back and forth to Arkansas a few times, and, of course, went around Arizona to the Grand Canyon, and went fishing a time or two to some of the — some of the more remote areas, which I really loved. When I got old enough to drive, of course, then I started going out to these areas myself with friends to go hiking and, you know, poking around. Arizona, at that time, was still largely uninhabited, which made it wonderful.
Doel:What do you think —? I'm sure —
Raleigh:I don't like it as much now, unfortunately.
Doel:Did you have an interest in geology as you were growing up?
Raleigh:No — No, I can't say that I did particularly. It really wasn't until I got to college that I got interested in it.
Doel:I was curious, too. Were there any things like science clubs?
Raleigh:Amateur ham radio club. I built a power supply and transmitter.
Doel:School activities that you participated in?
Raleigh:I was in a couple of plays but there really weren't any activities around science. You've got to remember that I was in high school from 1948 to '52.
Raleigh:And science really hadn't been very much in the public consciousness until, of course, the atomic bomb went off. People vaguely associated that with physics, but that's about as far as they got. For us bright kids in school, it was an extraordinarily glamorous field to go into, and so a very few of us got very interested in physics, and wanted to go off to school and be a Nuclear Physicist. We were not very sure, but nobody else in our high school had the faintest notion of what that was about.
Doel:Yes. So you were really picking up a lot of this on your own, through your own reading and your own studies?
Raleigh:Yes, that's right. In fact, when I was still in Arkansas, I used to make a sort of not very explosive volatile form of gun powder. I would go around to different drugs stores and buy flours of sulphur at one, and carbon at another, and potassium nitrate at the other, and mix them up. I had huge quart jars, and I'd sort of do burning experiments with them. Fortunately my mix wasn't explosive. You wouldn't see me around now; I made so much of it. So, yes, that sort of thing I was doing all along.
Doel:And you knew, even at that age, that you needed to go to a different drug store for all the —
Raleigh:Fortunately my parents didn't know what I was doing, but the druggists did. In the large city high schools it was obviously very different. There was obviously much more attention paid to gifted kids who were interested in science, and there was a lot more opportunity, I think, to do the sorts of things that the small town didn't really make available, but that didn't seem to discourage me. I really was just interested on my own, and science seemed the only thing really challenging to me intellectually.
Doel:I was curious how you found out — yes — how you found out about places like Cal Tech when you began thinking about college.
Raleigh:That's a good question. I can't recall how I finally got interested in Cal Tech. Of course, Arizona's not very far away, and I think just talking to adults, and, actually, even the science teacher, McGirr, said, "You know, Cal Tech's a great school." And interestingly he said, "You know, you're kind of more socially inclined than most of the people that go to Cal Tech." And he said, "If you find that you don't like it, don't be embarrassed about transferring out of there." He said, "You may not — you may not enjoy it very much." Of course, he was absolutely right.
Doel:Yes. So he was perceptive, that perhaps —
Raleigh:Yes, he was perceptive. My sister went to Pomona College, and she was three years older than I, so that was another option. One of the deans at Pomona is actually a dean from Hendricks College in Conway. My parents had known him — known him there. So Southern California looked like the place to go, and it never, ever entered my mind to go to the East Coast. I never considered it. Stanford didn't look like it was good enough at that time. It had a kind of party school flavor to it. I wanted to go to a really good school. That I knew, but Cal Tech was the best on the West Coast, and so that's where I went. And they actually had a faculty member going around interviewing potential students, so some guy came to Scottsdale High School, and we talked for an hour or so.
Raleigh:They were very selective about their — the people that went there, and I was kind of impressed by that at the time.
Doel:Did you have a chance to see the campus before you went out there, and this was, I should note, in 1952 that you began.
Raleigh:No, I never saw it.
Doel:Yes. What were your impressions of it, once you got out there?
Raleigh:They took us up to a camp, up in the San Bernardino Mountains. I don't know, kind of an indoctrination camp, and they kept telling us that we were the absolute cream of the crop. We were the brightest kids from the area that they normally drew upon, and we had, you know, gone through this rigorous selection process, and I instinctively felt, you know, "Bullshit. I don't think I believe this." You know, something's wrong here. I am maybe smart, but I'm not that smart. And I wondered why they were doing it. That made me a little suspicious, but it was a chance to get acquainted with a few of the people, anyway, my fellow students who remained life-long friends, a few of them. Then when we started to class, my first impression was of a physics class in which the professor was actually not a professor. He was a graduate student, and four days a week, we had an hour of this graduate student lecturing to us, and one day a week we had one hour from a real professor. And this guy was trying to tell us why we use one handed coordinate system rather than another. He's going on with this — and I think, "Where is this guy coming from? What's going on here?" So my rather poor physics training I had in high school made it difficult. This guy was a terrible teacher, as was his successor in that class. The students could complain to the Physics Department after a quarter, and get rid of the guy, so we did. And we got another one that was just as bad. And, finally — I still remember their names. I don't want to say them. Finally, the third quarter we had a reasonable sort of person. I think that was a terrible mistake on Cal Tech's part. They should have put a really first-rate teacher in for the first quarter, first year, at least, of physics, so that you'd get launched off to a fast start. A lot of the kids had been to a private school, and they had a lot better training, so I guess the quality of the teacher was less, perhaps, injurious to them than it might have been to those of us who really didn't have that good a physics background. But it was — I felt cheated. You know, here we are at this great school, and we get a graduate student teaching us that's not very good. They were awful. Chemistry I liked better. We had a good teacher in chemistry, and then, of course, Linus Pauling spoke once a week in freshman chemistry, and he was just superb.
Doel:I can imagine.
Raleigh:Oh, just wonderful. So that — I decided chemistry was definitely more to my liking than — than physics at that point, and, fortunately, in math, although we had a graduate student teaching, he was more senior, and he really was quite good, a guy named Soloway. I can't complain about that at all, but I found the workload just atrocious, five hours of physics, five hours of chemistry, five hours of math, two of history, two of English, one afternoon a week of mechanical drawing. We had ROTC two hours a week, which was an opportunity to sleep, basically. I would go into class, put my hand on my forehead, hold my pencil in my hand, and sleep for an hour. Actually it got me thrown out of there eventually. I'll finish that story. I never liked ROTC, because I hated people telling me what to do. I was never very good at that, so, for example one day we were out there marching. There was a reviewing stand set up, and so there were three squadrons, whatever those are, about forty people, and I suddenly realized that we were in a competition, and that the winning squadron would have to go march against other people somewhere else, and I let the word out. So by the time we crossed in front of the reviewing stand, everybody was out of step. It was just a shambles, so naturally we didn't have to go off somewhere and march. You can imagine these Cal Tech students having the Air Force trying to convince them that marching around like this is a worthwhile way to spend their time. And I wouldn't polish my shoes, but finally this sleeping in class thing, the professor got me in — No, he announced one day, the Major announced one day that, "One of you men had slept all the way through class sitting next to the Inspecting General, and he's getting ten demerits;" whatever that meant. It was pretty severe I think, so I went to see him after class, and he said, "Yes, Raleigh, and we expect to see you in our office at such-and-such a time," at which point they got me in and told me they thought I would be better off in physical education than in ROTC. That was the end of my military experience.
Doel:Was that also partially supporting you through —
Raleigh:No, no. I think if you stayed in ROTC through the second two years, they gave you some support, but no. My grandfather had actually put up the money so I could go to Cal Tech. I didn't have to work to support that, although I did work in the summers anyway, just because I liked it. Anyway, it was a real struggle, and I got through the first year without — without failing or anything, but I was, you know, not acquitting myself with the kind of distinction that I was accustomed to. That changes your perceptions about yourself. I used to think I was so smart, and look at these other guys who are a lot smarter than I am. It's the way of life. I mean, there is always somebody smarter than you are. The emphasis on analytical treatment, and on doing problems, over and over again, all kinds of problems I didn't find terribly to my liking frankly. Most of my science has been kind of informed by intuition, and you kind of do what kind of analytical stuff you have to do afterwards to get the answer that you know already. Do you understand what I mean?
Doel:Yes, I do.
Raleigh:And so Cal Tech really wasn't made to order for someone like me. Ultimately, of course, as you know, I transferred to Pomona. A lot of people left at the end of the sophomore year.
Doel:Is that right?
Doel:Looking back on it, do you think that these were, in part, conditions at Cal Tech that resulted from the wartime dislocations, or was it simply part of that regimented Cal Tech — The curriculum was set for the first few years at Cal Tech, wasn't it; in terms of required courses?
Raleigh:The first year everything was set. The second year, I think you chose — You had to choose a major by the end of the first quarter of your second year, and at that point we began to diverge depending on what major they had chosen, but everyone had two years of Physics, and two years of — two or three years of Math, and, you know, and two years of Chemistry, so it really was a pretty regimented curriculum, which I think probably is fine. You certainly come out with an awfully strong basic understanding of science and how to do it.
Doel:You mentioned Linus Pauling, too. Did you have a chance to meet any professors after hours, outside of class during those years, or was it not very common?
Raleigh:Not much, but when I started to major in Geology, we got to meet one or two of them. Dick [Richard] Jahns I'd gotten to know, because Dick liked to play touch football, and so he and I and others would form these little touch teams.
Doel:Interesting. He was one of the young assistant professors at that time. Is that correct?
Raleigh:I think he was more senior than that.
Doel:Okay. [John P.] Buwalda was about ready to retire then, wasn't he?
Raleigh:Yes, he was very close to retirement. Actually, he had been one of the people who spoke in their first quarter geology course, which is how they got most of their majors. Most students came there without knowing anything about geology, and they put on an absolutely superb first quarter course. They reeled out their best speakers and lecturers. It was fascinating, so that's when a lot of us changed majors, and decided this was more fun. I was taking quantitative analysis and chemistry at the time with a guy named Swift, called Swift Lab, and it was — it was just awful. You would go to laboratory, and you would take the compound, and you would weigh it, and then — dry it and weigh it, and then titrate it with something, and then dry it and weigh it, and it would finally get through to some point where you could determine what went into it, but, of course, if you dropped it anywhere along the way, you had to start all over again. And that happened to me twice, and I thought, this is not for me. Not for me. I got to get out of here, so I did, fortunately. It was a fascinating place, though. There was another interesting case. We also had a required one-quarter Sophomore Biology course the same way to sort of give you a taste of Biology, which I didn't care for much. But George Beadle instructed the lab —
Doel:Interesting. That's interesting.
Raleigh:— instead of giving any of the lectures, and he was wonderful. I mean, you know, he was great in the lab, told very raunchy, very bad jokes as I recall. He was a delightful guy. So Cal Tech did have these resources around, but you didn't see much of them.
Doel:Right. I was curious, too, if you had any contact with the people in seismology? Of course, they were on a separate facility.
Doel:You didn't meet Gutenberg?
Raleigh:No, I never got to know them at all.
Doel:Did you go on any of the field trips that Cal Tech organized?
Raleigh:I don't remember whether we had any or not. I don't recall any field trips. No.
Doel:Another thing I was curious about, do you have any classes from Bob Sharp during the time that he worked there?
Raleigh:He was one of the people who spoke in the first quarter, introductory. He was great. I really instantly realized this guy knew what he was doing. He spoke very well, but, no, I never took any courses from him formally.
Doel:What was the — And if you feel like taking a break at any point, just let me know. I was curious about your impressions of Pomona? You had decided to transfer there. Were there other schools that you were thinking of besides Pomona, or did that come —?
Raleigh:No, I don't know why, but for some reason Pomona seemed just right to me. It was a small school, and my sister knew it well. No, I didn't consider anything else. I just decided to go there, and they accepted me. And I did like the idea of a little more variety in the sorts of things you might take for classes, and there were girls, which I thought was a good idea. I wasn't even sure, by the time I was transferring to Pomona, what I was going to major in.
Doel:That's common enough.
Raleigh:But I took geology courses when I got there. Pomona was really fortunate in having [A. O.] Woodford, who was a superb teacher, and at the same time Donald MacIntyre, who had just come there from Edinburgh, and was a really gifted teacher and lecturer. Just a wonderful guy, tremendous enthusiasm, so geology suddenly really was a lot of fun, and those guys you got to know. I mean, much more personal contact, which gave the students a real sense of what someone like a MacIntyre or Woodford finds to love in the science that they do. You don't get that from the kind of detached, impersonal contact at a place like Cal Tech.
Doel:Did they talk to you about research that they were doing at the time?
Raleigh:They would give lectures occasionally outside of the classroom to a larger group of people, and so you'd go to those and pick up that stuff as well. Then when you were on field trips with them, of course, you'd start getting a sense of how they thought about things they were doing and looking at, how they saw the world. You picked up in the process a certain amount of what their own interests were. You talk about what appeals to you at the moment, when you look at a mountain, or a bunch of rocks. Anyway, so I really took up Geology then with a lot of enthusiasm at Pomona.
Doel:Do you remember which textbooks you were reading at the time?
Raleigh:Well, it was — The first textbook I ever had was [James] Gilluly, [Aaron C.] Waters and Woodford, which was a beginning text for geology, and it was excellent. Gosh, the texts for things like petrology — I think it was Harker. You're really stretching my memory.
Raleigh:I even took paleontology using the text from Moore. Woodford was good at this. He actually made us draw these shells, and name them, so you kept a notebook with these drawings of these fossils. It seemed like an extremely tedious way to learn anything, but it's sort of akin to beating a student across the palm with a sharp stick when they misspell a word, right? The next time they don't misspell. It's a sort of punitive method, forcing you to draw these things that actually worked. I mean, you did remember them. I still remember some of them if I see them now. Anyway, the other — I don't remember the other texts. Structural — Oh, yes. Structural Geology was a very thin book. Anyway, it was not one that I was terribly impressed with.
Doel:I'm really curious if you had exposure to Geophysics in —
Doel:— in that time.
Raleigh:Not really. Not much from anybody, not until I went to graduate school. I got interested when I got my masterís degree there.
Doel:And this is now at Claremont College?
Doel:Is that what we're talking about?
Raleigh:But it's the same place.
Raleigh:The master's program involved the same building and the same people. Richfield had a fellowship that they gave, so I stayed on then to get a masterís degree, and I wasn't sure whether I was going to stop there, or go on for a Ph.D. I didn't really think about it.
Raleigh:But I got to work on deformed rocks, and I really did get interested in the mechanism by which it took place. You know, I wasn't just interested in the symmetry considerations, and how you used it to say something larger about the geology of the area. I became much more interested in the internal processed within the crystals themselves. That's when Frank Turner and David Griggs, and others were working on deformation of calcite. I read all those papers, and probably was one of the few people to actually understand Turner's paper on calcite deformation. It took a long, long time to get through it. So I wanted to go either to Berkeley then for a Ph.D. or UCLA. Working with Griggs at UCLA was what really transformed both my interest, and my, if you will, direction towards more geophysical inclinations.
Doel:Turn to that in just a moment. When you were out in — This was summer work that you were doing when you were at — It was Tucson if I remember right and Anaconda —
Raleigh:That was when I graduated; I worked for Anaconda in that summer out of Tucson. There was a young geologist named Art Barber; who later became vice president for Arco in charge of Anaconda, and the chief of the office was Roland Mulcahy. Roland was a terrific guy. He was a hard-nosed mining geologist, but I liked him very much. I had a great summer working with them, traveled all over Northern Mexico and Arizona looking at old mines. At this time the copper price was high, so they were actively exploring.
Doel:Yes. This really wasn't exposure to geophysical techniques as much as it was geology.
Raleigh:No, that one really wasn't. That was pretty much exploration Mining Geology in the strict sense. We weren't doing any Geophysics at that point. I suppose Anaconda did it, but it wasn't out of our office. No, I had really no exposure to Geophysics even when I worked for Richfield in the summer up in the Four Corners. We were just doing plane table surveying of the structures in the Four Corners area. They couldn't determine the dips and strikes of the bedding from aerial photos, they were so gentle. You just couldn't get any resolution, so we had to plane table this humongous area. Actually, it was kind of fun, and it was a wonderful place to spend the summer.
Doel:It sure is.
Raleigh:And then I ended up — at the end of my stay there I was going off to get married at the end of the summer, so I was the one given the job of contouring everything to show where the structures were that might conceivably be closed so that they might trap oil. There was one area where we found a closure near the Fort Defiance Uplift. I was back there in '73 driving across, and here was one oil well on that structure. That's all. [inaudible sentence]
Doel:That must have brought back memories.
Raleigh:Well, at least there was one oil well.
Raleigh:— we'd done something for our summer's pay, for which we made four hundred dollars a month, as I recall.
Doel:That was actually probably pretty good money back then.
Raleigh:It wasn't bad. Yes, it wasn't bad for 1957. Let's see. I'm trying to remember. They did have seismic crews working through the area. We actually stayed with them, but we didn't do anything with them. We went off every morning and did our own thing.
Doel:But what's interesting is that prior to the time that you came to UCLA, and begin working with people like David Griggs, you really hadn't had much exposure to —
Raleigh:Not at all.
Doel:— to high pressure geochemistry and geophysics.
Raleigh:No, no, no, none of that, no.
Doel:I was curious what your impressions were of David Griggs?
Raleigh:He — he was really kind of an awe-inspiring, fearsome sort of guy. He was extraordinarily articulate, and able to demolish any argument that you might conceivably come up with in a few minutes. He had driven off potential graduate students who couldn't take these punishing, rather demoralizing discussions that he would have with them. I mean, he would just work them over until they just felt like they didn't know anything. A couple of guys in particular just quit, so I took a class from him, however, which was one of the few classes that he gave.
Doel:Yes. And this was just on the graduate level that he was offering?
Raleigh:Yes. It was my first year of graduate school, and I was trying to decide whether I really wanted to work with the guy, or not, so I took the class. A seminar it was, and actually that turned out really quite okay. I had probably a little better physics background by virtue of going to Cal Tech than most of the guys in the class did. The kind of classical mechanics that one uses in that sort of structural geology research that I was working my way towards was not difficult. The class itself took on the question of the Hubbert and Rubey papers on over- thrust faulting, and we went into them in great detail.
Doel:Right. And that had just been worked through a few years earlier?
Raleigh:In 1958, it had just been published.
Raleigh:So we read the paper as it came hot off the press in effect, both papers, and spent probably at least half the semester working on it. It was really productive. It probably helped guide some of my later career. We reached a point where Dave was drawing the over-thrust blocks shown on a tilted surface, and were going through just the geometric arguments showing what the shear and normal stresses were. At some point I said, "Yes, but you know this thrust block can't just slide forever unimpeded. It must have a toe somewhere." And so Dave said, "Oh, that's unimportant." And he had this thing tilted at about a thirty degree angle, and drew this little, tiny toe, and he says it's too small compared to the size of the block to matter, but Ed Sharp, who was a student also, said, "Well, but what if this thing's really sitting on the one or two degree slope that we have talked about?" Suddenly the toe of it was very much larger, you know, compared to the other. Dave said, "Okay, well, why don't you work on that?" And that's the paper that we ultimately did together. It was good, a lot of fun.
Doel:Did you come to meet [M. King] Hubbert and [William W.] Rubey at that point?
Raleigh:Yes. Hubbert came to UCLA to spend about a couple of weeks talking to students, giving some lectures, and Rubey came there, you know, as a professor at UCLA.
Doel:I know he did. I was wondering, was it at that time that you were there?
Raleigh:He came, I think, in '59, so it was close to that time.
Doel:It was that time, yes.
Raleigh:Yes. Of course, we, by this time, knew the papers backwards and forwards. At least, I did. So Hubbert had us keep the beer can for his lecture demonstration of the famous experiment, the beer can experiment, in the freezer for him for his lecture, and there was a lot of discussion among the graduate students as to whether we should punch holes in the beer can or not, but Hubbert was too imposing. I just didn't have the nerve. I would have done it to a lot of people, but I couldn't do it to Hubbert. He wouldn't have seen the humor.
Doel:I think you're right.
Raleigh:But I got to know Hubbert then, and I've known him for a long time since. Griggs had a reputation from having been involved in the Oppenheimer debacle that really had turned a lot of his colleagues, I think, against him, and made him feel isolated. Louis Slichter hired him to come to UCLA for the Institute of Geophysics. His abrasive, hostile side at that time probably was to some degree as a result of that experience. And I was politically liberal and appalled at what I had heard about the Oppenheimer affair. I resolved not to read anything about the whole affair until I was through with my Ph.D., which I did. As soon as I finished my oral exam, I went to the library and checked all the materials out and read them.
Doel:How did you feel then?
Raleigh:What struck me was that Griggs, on the stand testifying, fumbled, was inarticulate. I thought this cannot be the same person. It seemed to me that the emotions from the trial, from what was being done to Oppenheimer were devastating to Griggs. I think it had a terrible impact on him personally, obviously as well as on Oppenheimer. We tend to put people in black and white roles, and so Oppenheimer was the white knight, and these others, Teller and the crowd of H-bombers, were the bad guys. The reality, of course, was somewhat different. Later it did occur to me, as obviously it had to many others, that Oppenheimer was opposed to developing the H-bomb, but that Teller and others rightly figured that the Russians would develop one first, if we didn't get moving, and that they would use it, if not as a military weapon, at least as a political weapon. They felt we had to be at least roughly equivalent in our balance of terror, if you will. I think, you know, maybe history will say that they were probably right. What they did about getting Oppenheimer out of the way, of course, is another matter, and that was the dirty part of it that people didn't like.
Doel:Yes. Did Griggs talk to you about his wartime research at all?
Raleigh:No. He talked to me a little bit about the bomb sight work that he was doing. He actually flew in the bombers working with the bomb site to make sure that it really worked. He didn't talk much about the rest of it, though. We became good friends particularly after I got my Ph.D. and came back from Australia to California.
Doel:What was it like being in the Institute itself at UCLA?
Raleigh:Actually, I liked it a lot. You know, when you finally get classes over, and you're doing full-time research, it's just wonderful. It's a different world, and the Institute had some very bright people. These are not standard faculty members: George Kennedy, Gordon MacDonald, George Wetherill, Leon Knopoff and Dave of course. They were a very interesting crowd, and we had a lot of personal contact with them. We played bridge with George Kennedy at lunch time. And we were all actively doing research. Things would come up that were interesting and we would sit around and talk about it. See if you could figure out a way to solve the problem. It was a very compelling environment. I thoroughly loved it.
Doel:It sounds like there was after-hours socializing then?
Raleigh:Yes, to some extent. At the same time, though, after taking the first class with Griggs, I was a little terrified of him but I resolved that I did want to do experimental work on the deformation of crystals. Griggs wanted me to work on the deformation of quartz, and I remember at the time thinking, "Well, John Christien the Geology Department, (Who I'd worked with at Pomona College. He'd come over to Pomona as a postdoc there when I was doing my master's thesis) — is really interested in this. Dave is really interested in this. These guys are going to be leaning over my shoulder constantly, and I'm not going to be able to do my research independently." So I said, no, and I had met Dale Jackson who was a wonderful geologist, and had worked in the Stillwater Metranafic Complex, and he said, "Why don't you work on olivine?" And I thought, my God, of course, it's the upper mantle of the earth. It's a fascinating material. Why not? I told Dave that's what I wanted to do, and Griggs almost didn't speak to me for about six months. I mean, literally. And then, when I finally did work in his laboratory under a grant, I was only drawing half the normal pay you would pay a research assistant, so I was paying a price for having been more independent than perhaps I should have been. All that resolved itself eventually and I think Dave was happy enough with the result. I was doing field work as well. I did geological work to see whether I could make any sense out of the way the olivine was deformed in an alpine peridotite. And it was fun. I mean, the alpine periodites were folded. They were real tectonites a fact that I don't think anybody had really particularly paid any attention to up to that point.
Doel:I'm curious, around the time that you got your Ph.D., how much you knew of the work going on in high pressure studies, say Birch's work?
Raleigh:Oh, quite a bit.
Doel:Yes, at the Carnegie?
Raleigh:At MIT. We even did a successful experiment on making diamonds in Griggs' cubic apparatus.
Raleigh:So, we were interested in the very high pressure experiments, and George Kennedy, of course, was interested in high pressure geochemistry.
Doel:Gordon MacDonald did come out of that tradition.
Doel:Of training as well.
Raleigh:Yes, so we really were very close to what was going on, certainly UCLA, and at least somewhat knowledgeable about other institutional work, Birch in particular. I mean, Dave had been a Harvard Fellow, Junior Fellow, right?
Raleigh:And he had worked under —
Doel:Birch was coming along, and then Reginald Daly was there at the time.
Raleigh:Yes. But I think both Birch and Dave had worked under the famous high pressure physicist at Harvard.
Doel:Yes, Percy Bridgman.
Raleigh:Bridgman. He was a sort of the father of that tradition.
Raleigh:The other thing that Dave got me interested in was mantle convection. He had this little —
Doel:I was curious about that, yes.
Raleigh:— movie script that he had put together showing this tank where you turned a crank to produce trenches and subduction. Have you ever seen that piece of tape?
Doel:No, I haven't, but I've heard of it.
Raleigh:God, it's a wonderful piece of film. He had actually done that prior to the war and gave a talk at the Geological Society of America meeting on convection in the mantle. And Andrew Lawson and Bailey Willis, the famous couple of protagonists, were there at the meeting, and Bailey Willis — according to Griggs, who told the story — Bailey Willis got up and said — and the exact words I don't remember, but — "That has got to be the worst tripe I have ever heard delivered at a Geological Society of America meeting." David said and Andrew Lawson stood up and said, "I have never agreed with Bailey Wilson anything until now." [laughs] So he was a little crushed, but at that point —
Doel:That was a well-remembered episode.
Raleigh:Yes. I'm sure he remembered it very well.
Doel:Were you aware of [Alfred] Wegener and [Arthur] Holmes and —?
Raleigh:Oh, sure. I had read Wegener's book actually when I was still in graduate school at Pomona.
Raleigh:And it made quite an impression on me. I mean, the fact that some things are wrong with it didn't strike me nearly as much as the things that appeared to be right with it. And at UCLA actually I took a course from the famous paleobotanist, Dan Axelrod.
Raleigh:He was adamant that there cannot have been polar wandering or relative shifts of latitude for the continent. He was talking about in classroom something about the distribution of certain temperature bounded classes of microorganisms that were found as fossils. They didn't seem to be symmetrical about the equator. I said, well gee, maybe the symmetry is changed because the pole has shifted. And he replied, "You want to fight about that?" I mean just a hostile sort of reaction. I'm just a little graduate student sitting there, and this professor blows up about it. Well, I hadn't realized how polarized this argument had already become among geologists.
Doel:That's a very interesting recollection.
Raleigh:It was strange.
Raleigh:He went to Davis I think after leaving UCLA. There wasn't really much work being done on the subject at UCLA at the time. It wasn't until Harry [H.] Hess paper; that sort of galvanizing sea floor spreading paper that the subject really heated up for people like me.
Doel:Of course that was during the time that you were there that that appeared.
Raleigh:Yes, that's right.
Doel:That was the preprint at least began appearing right after 1960.
Raleigh:Yes. And of course in '62 I was working on my dissertation, trying madly to get it finished so I can get out of graduate school and take a real job, and but I had read it either by the time I got to Canberra or at the very beginning of that time, I can't remember exactly when. Anyway, it made an obviously big impression on me, and immediately things fell together for a lot of us. And then of course in Australia when I got there —
Doel:Yes. I was curious how that opportunity had come about.
Raleigh:Well, these — oh, how it happened?
Raleigh:Well, Mervin Paterson and Jaeger at separate times came through Griggs' laboratory at UCLA. Jaeger mentioned that they had this postdoctoral fellowship that they offered a 3-year postdoc which was a great deal. And I wanted to get as far away from Los Angeles as possible, so I thought this is a great opportunity. I'd love to go to Australia, why not, and it's a great school.
Doel:Yes. And Jaeger had done quite a bit to enhance geophysics there immensely.
Raleigh:Yes, oh yes, he was a fascinating guy. Mervin Paterson I knew about. I knew he had done some experimental work as well, and had a good facility that he had set up. So it looked like a natural.
Raleigh:When I got there, Ted Irving was almost pleading with me to come out to the field and look at these examples of Paleozoic glaciations in one of the Permian and one in the Carboniferous. He said, ďAxelrod refuses to believe." Said, "He's never seen it, but he just refuses to accept other people's evidence that these really are glacial." And in one of the cases I actually did go out to the field with him and of course, he was right. They were just distraught, these paleomagnetics guys, that people who are as eminent as Axelrod could take such a position without having looked at the data. It was strange. I think he referred to the case of glossopteris being found in supposedly glacial deposits. It could not have existed, according to him, in a glacial environment. And it was associated with South African till deposits. But I'm sure that wasn't the only reason he was so adamant about it.
Doel:But you were becoming very aware of major controversies in the field and the different standards of evidence that people —
Raleigh:Oh sure, absolutely. That, yes, I mean we had, UCLA had a really good faculty at that time, and geophysics people were also very much involved in the hot items of the moment. So it was a stimulating place to be.
Doel:You had mentioned earlier about proceeding to scientific ideas and being guided by intuition. Did you have talks with David [T.] Griggs about the interface between theory and experiment, or others there?
Raleigh:No, no, no, not really. I would have to go into Griggs' office about every two weeks or so with some problem that I was working on, and go to the board to prove my case. I had learned all of the physical constants of any importance, and all the translations between systems of measurement. If somebody posed a problem and hadn't done it very quantitatively you could bound the problem almost in your head fairly quickly, or certainly on the back of an envelope, by just assigning reasonable numbers and then doing this simple kind of physics that you needed to do to see whether it made sense or not. And Griggs is really good at that. He taught us. He taught through example, but he also taught us at the board in these harrowing sessions where he'd show how you approach a problem. And you'd always walk away going, "Jesus! I'm so wet behind the ears I don't know anything!" But it made you work harder. I mention that because working with Griggs in that way made the difference between being a kind of qualitative, not so rigorous thinker, to becoming much more rigorous and much more able to see how to break a problem up in such a way that you could put the bounds on it that would allow you to decide whether the proposed solution was even halfway reasonable. That was as much Dave as anyone. I mean itís one thing to take a lot of problem-solving courses in school; it's another thing to actually do it in the world. Dave was marvelous at that. But it was a sort of osmotic process. It wasn't by directly telling me what to do.
Doel:Of course that isn't something that one can directly teach necessarily.
Raleigh:No, it isn't. As it turns out, I mean of all the educational experiences I had Driggs' was by far the most important I think. And I don't know that I ever discussed with him anything more general about the nature of science itself, and why you do things a certain way. It was all kind of exemplary rather than theoretical which was fine, as it turns out.
Doel:One thing I'm curious about, around the time that you finished your dissertation and took the postdoc in Australia, were you aware of Lamont and how it —? I'm just curious in a general sense if work at Lamont had come to your attention, given the work that you were doing.
Raleigh:Not while I was a graduate student at UCLA, but certainly when I was a postdoc at Canberra. I had gotten interested in earthquakes, deeper focus earthquakes, and —
Doel:How did that come about, by the way? You had gone to Australia principally interested yet in olivine.
Raleigh:Hugh [C.] Heard and [William W.] Rubey were doing some experimental work on dehydrating gypsum to see if it lost its strength as pore pressure from dehydration underin a confined medium, rose. But it's already so weak it's hard to tell whether it's lost any strength or not. And I had gotten interested from reading the book that Griggs and Handlin put together, GSA [Geological Society of America] 80. [Memoir 80] in deeper focus earthquakes. The possibility that pore pressure induced by dehydration could in fact embrittle a rock. And asked Dave while I was finishing up, I said, "Why don't we resurrect this apparatus that you and others were using for that memoir and let me do experiments on serpentine, because it's a much stronger rock." It still dehydrates at a reasonable temperature range that you can achieve in the laboratory, and see then the transition between its low pore pressure strength and the high pore pressure weakened state; much better than you could with gypsum. And Dave [David T. Griggs] said, "It's a lot of trouble putting all that stuff together" and "Are you sure you want to do it?" So, "I'll wait until I get down to Canberra to do it." It worked extremely well. Serpentine did weaken and embrittle at very high pressure, where normally it was ductile. The essential argument was that the depths of the deeper focus earthquakes the pressures and temperatures are presumably high enough so that the rock should be ductile regardless of composition. Serpentine was of ductile fashion with high strength, then upon dehydration the strength drops and it becomes brittle and fractures. By analogy, the intermediate and deep focus earthquakes could happen in some similar fashion." As the hydrated minerals are subducted and warmed up. But then that leads you to trying to look at the Benioff zones, and the island arc structure in somewhat more detail to see whether it makes sense. There has to be a conveyor belt for this argument to work.
Doel:Yes. It does, yes.
Raleigh:So that's how I returned to Griggs' convection argument. Canberra was in a state of such contention on this subject at the time, and Ted [A. E.] Ringwood was very much opposed to the notion of convection going on. He believed that the basaltic ocean crust actually was converting to eclogite and sinking down along the Benioff zones as large, dense clumps of eclogite. I had taken the point of view that the Benioff zone had to be convection. Ted [A. E.] Ringwood tried to block my papers from being published on the subject. He was really adamant about the subject. And the most electrifying moment during all this was when [J.] Tuzo Wilson came to give his great demonstration, and then Jim [James R.] Heirtzler came by with the Eltanin II profile.
Doel:Well that's interesting.
Raleigh:He gave this talk at Canberra, and he showed an unforgettable slide with the symmetry of the magnetic field across the Ridge Axis. Ted [A. E.] Ringwood jumped up and he said, "What do you think that means?" and [James R.] Heirtzler — and I still don't understand why he said this — said, "I don't know." I'm sure he must have had — you know, he knew what everybody else was saying. And I jumped up and said, "Well, if you don't know, I do." [laughs] And Ringwood from that point on actually was never any trouble anymore. Ted was swift. That was a marvelous moment. I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Eltanin profile.
Doel:Was this the moment that you're recalling coming near the end of your time at —
Raleigh:Yes. That's right. Yes.
Doel:Yes. Because if I recall correctly, Jim [James R.] Heirtzler wasn't initially convinced of Continental Drift.
Raleigh:No, I think that's right.
Doel:He may not have accepted it at that time.
Raleigh:But after seeing that profile. [W. Maurice] Ewing was such a dominant character, particularly for people of Heirtzler's generation that he may have been infected by Ewing.
Doel:So clearly you were learning more about the sorts of things going on at Lamont as —
Raleigh:Oh yes, sure. And the reason I mentioned — I actually looked at a number of the papers of [Manik] Talwani and others on gravity surveys and crustal structure across island arcs.
Doel:Of course the seismic network was being set up during those years as well.
Raleigh:Well, that's right. But I didn't get access to that until I got back. I was not a seismologist, so it was more laborious for me to do the kinds of things that Lynn Sykes and others did naturally. But I met Lynn as soon as I got back, and we immediately became good friends.
Doel:When you say "got back," this is '66 when you returned to the United States.
Raleigh:Sixty-six — November of '66 at the GSA meeting. He gave this great talk about the Ridge Axis earthquakes. I think it's the best ten minute talk I've ever heard.
Raleigh:Well, it was the one where the Ridge Axis is offset but the plate motion across the effect is opposite to the sense of the offset. Geologists would reason, "Okay, if it's offset like this, it must be a left lateral fault." But the earthquakes had exactly the opposite focal mechanism. When I had just arrived at the Survey, I gave a talk to a packed room, and I showed the slide that I had made up from Lynrlís talk. You could hear these geologists gasp. For them that was enough proof I think. It was a great time; A lot of exciting stuff going on — anyway, but back to Canberra. Let's see, I finally got my dissertation defended, and we left really very quickly after that to go to Canberra. For the first few months Mervin [Paterson] didn't have his apparatus together, so I just kind of meandered around and got acquainted with what was going on. Most of these guys came from the British tradition. UCLA was much more, you know, outspoken. If somebody gave a talk, it didn't matter who it was, you'd really jump on them if they got something wrong or said something stupid. They didn't do that at Canberra.
Doel:You felt you were restraining yourself at points.
Raleigh:Well, I didn't at first, because I didn't know any better. I remember being at a Pacific Science Congress or something in Canberra where someone was making an argument about viscosity based on seeing a feldspar bent in a fluid medium and I spoke up immediately and said you know, "That's wrong." [laughs] And he was wrong. I felt this instant tension, as if I was being told that you don't do that sort of thing. But, science is contentious, period. If it isn't, it's not any good, so I didn't shut up too much.
Doel:Yes. That's interesting that you picked up, that you were perceptive and aware of these sorts of signals that you were getting.
Raleigh:Oh, yes. Well, guys were looking at me with less than approving glances. I mean, they're kind of furrowed brows like, "What? We don't do this sort of thing." You know you can almost hear them muttering to themselves. Maybe you should, I thought. [laughs]
Doel:But clearly not all people would necessarily pick up on those cues, even though you recognize them.
Raleigh:Well maybe, I don't know.
Doel:How did the survey possibility come about at the end of your —?
Raleigh:What happened was that I published this paper on serpentine dehydration in 1965, and quite a lot of other things actually. By '65 I'd really gotten up to full steam and published about five papers that year, and I don't think I ever had more fun in my career than those few years at Canberra. Go back to work every night, and it never felt like work. I couldn't wait to leave dinner and go back. In February of '66 there was a meeting in Durham, where I gave a paper on the island arc earthquakes being related to convection, relating it to dehydration of serpentine. [David T.] Griggs was there and a lot of other people. Griggs was very proud of that paper. He thought it was absolutely terrific. From there I went to the United States and stopped at Yale, where Syd [Sydney] Clark had asked me to come by and give a talk, the University of Wisconsin where a friend of mine had gone; UC Riverside, and to Shell Oil Company at Houston where Neville Carter and a couple of other people had gone.
Doel:[M. King] Hubbert was at Shell during this —
Raleigh:Handin Heard, a whole group of them had gone there to do rock mechanics. And then I stopped off at the Geological Survey, which at that time had its earthquake office in Denver. As I went through Wisconsin and Yale, they made job offers on the spot. No EEO in those days.
Doel:It was a different world then.
Raleigh:It was different. Yale at the time offered me $8,000 a year and I said to John Rodgers, "I've got a family. I have three kids and a wife. I can't support them on $8000 a year." Kind of taken aback, he was. I think they finally offered me 10[K], and it still seemed awfully cheap to me, as though somehow the honor of going to Yale should —
Doel:Would compensate for low scale.
Raleigh:— compensate for living like a church mouse. I went to Shell which was interesting. By that time I had been to Wisconsin. Wisconsin made a much better offer and I'd stopped at the Survey in Washington. Dale [R.] Jackson was pushing me to interview with them, and they had also offered me something quite reasonable. I gave a talk at Houston and Mel Friedman interviewed me and told me what they could pay. And I said, "Gee Mel, I've had better offers than that from a couple of universities." It was the first realization that they had been sent this very quiet signal by Shell, namely that Shell didn't really want to continue their activity, so they weren't getting pay increases. The whole group began to break up at that point. What made me like the Survey more was that first of all I had spent the past three and a half years doing full time research, and absolutely loving it. And I didn't have any strong inclination to teach.
Doel:— quick interruption, you were talking about when you were debating among the different offers that you had at that time, that teaching really didn't seem that important to you.
Raleigh:No, I didn't want it. I saw it taking a lot of time, and I didn't want to spend the time that way. I got to Denver and Jack [H.]Healy, Jerry Eaton and Lou Pakiser were there, and they were telling me about these earthquakes that had been occurring in Denver. And then they said, "This kind of nutty geologist has proposed that it was injection of fluid down this deep well, that the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had triggered the earthquakes." So of course coming from my research background having to do with fluid pressure and earthquakes, I said, "Well, that's probably right." I was given an opportunity to work on that problem by going to the Survey, as well as being set up with a laboratory. They were really bending over backwards to hire me. And it was to be in California, so I liked that as well. I didn't want to go to the east coast.
Doel:So was this in Menlo Park then that you were —
Raleigh:Yes. That's where the new office was being set up. Coming back through Hawaii I stopped and talked to George Woollard, who was —
Doel:Interesting. Was the former director.
Raleigh:Yes, he was director of HIG [University of Hawaii Institute of Geophysics] and had come from Wisconsin. Wisconsin actually was very attractive, and they were tremendously enthusiastic about hiring me, and I knew Carl Bowser who was there, and a lovely spot, Madison.
Raleigh:When I was there it was in March, but it was one of those nice spells where it's not freezing. I talked to Woollard about it and said, "You know, you were from Wisconsin, I have an offer from them and I'm kind of tempted" and he replied, "Why would anybody want to go live in a place where for three weeks on end its 25 degrees below zero?" And I thought, "Gee, the impressionable guy that I was, I said, "You've got a good point. Why would you want to live like that?" So, and then I got back to Canberra and I told Jaeger that I was considering leaving. He was really upset. I must say I hadn't realized that he held me in that high a regard. So —
Doel:So they had thought to try to keep you on.
Raleigh:Oh yes. I had already taken a permanent job there.
Raleigh:After I was there two years they offered me a permanent position and I took it. Jaeger had offered to write a book with me. We hit it off very well. We were at their house all the time for dinner, and when he was out traveling which was frequently, because he had a sabbatical every four years and he used to take every two years half of it. He spent a lot of time, particularly in the wintertime, away from Canberra. So we were close. I really liked Jaeger. He was a wonderful guy. Anyway, I mentioned Yale after he had finally cooled down about it. He said, "Why would you want to go to Yale?" He's got this wonderful technique like the behavioral psychologists who search for just the right question that suddenly makes you think. "Why would I want to go Yale?" I said to myself. [laughs] He was actually quite encouraging about the Survey as well, so I took the Survey job. That's leaping ahead a bit. What else went on? Canberra. At the time it really was the choice place to go for postdoctoral and early professional experience. They had a faculty meeting once a year and it lasted an hour. Jaeger was an autocrat, which was fine with me. There was no proposal writing. I had a budget to work with, and if I really wanted money to do something I would go talk to Jaeger. They had plenty of money. It was set up by McKenzie, a postwar premier.
Doel:I think that's right.
Raleigh:As a way to keep Australians, really bright people, staying in Australia rather than being siphoned off to UK and the United States. So he set it up with great perks, just a wonderful environment for doing science. He did manage to keep some of their very good people there. It also meant that you had all these special privileges that no other universities in Australia had so it couldn't last. I had a full time technician working with me; we had a machine shop that I had access to almost full time, really just ideal. The results are that one can be more productive by a huge amount.
Doel:I'm curious how that compared to the Survey when you were out at Menlo Park.
Raleigh:Well, the Survey was not bad. Actually they didn't have much money, but I didn't really need a whole lot. When it came time do the experiment at the Rangeley Oil Field I ended up getting DARPA money, at that time ARPA [Advanced Research Projects Agency] I think. The Survey was not well funded unfortunately, but you know you could find ways to get things done.
Doel:Was Bill Pecora still Survey Director at the time that you came over?
Raleigh:No. It was Tom [Thomas D.] Nolan
Doel:It was Tom Nolan
Raleigh:At the very beginning. Then Vince, I think Vince [Vincent] McKelvey.
Doel:McKelvey was in there, that's right.
Raleigh:Both terrific guys. I really liked them. Vince was kind of naive politically, but he had a heart of gold.
Doel:Nolan was a Yale product.
Raleigh:Yes. A good geologist and he had everyone's admiration for his scientific career which was something that changed in the Survey. That's another subject.
Doel:You felt things were changing during the time that you were in the Survey?
Raleigh:Yes, towards a more bureaucratic, more committee-driven, less science-driven institution. I was really quite ready to leave when I did. But that's jumping ahead a bit. When I got there, if we wanted to hire somebody we could just do it. We didn't have to go through all these really ponderous hiring procedures. It was very freewheeling, very flexible. You wanted to do something — you didn't have to ask a lot of people's opinions about it, you just did it. And my research was basically what I wanted it to be. That was true in the Survey all along, but I think much less so now.
Doel:You mentioned meeting Lynn Sykes, and it seems that he became important to you at a number of points later in your career. I was curious of your impressions of him as you came to know him.
Raleigh:Well, when I first met Lynn it was at the GSA [Geological Society of America] meeting in November, 1966 in San Francisco. Griggs was there. [David T.] Griggs introduced me to him afterwards. And he said, "Barry, why don't you and Lynn organize a session on sea floor spreading and island arcs at the next AGU [American Geophysical Union] meeting?" The spring meeting in Washington. That would be '67. And so we did. We worked together in organizing it. And that was the one that 4,000 people attended.
Doel:It was an extraordinary meeting.
Raleigh:It was unbelievable, really extraordinary. Anyway, that's when I first got to know Lynn. And then later I put together a little paper with Willy Lee looking at island arcs and earthquakes. I had taken the focal mechanisms from the Ottawa observatory catalog of Hodgson.
Doel:Hodgson was there?
Raleigh:Hodgson catalog of focal mechanisms. And I threw away all the bad ones, just kept the good ones, and did a composite island arc focal mechanism for shallow and deep events.
Doel:It sounds like that was some of your intuition working there in terms of attempting to assess which were —
Raleigh:That was not so hard to do, because they had given an error figure for most of the solutions. We got that paper in press and then Lynnís great paper with [Bryan] Isacks, [Lynn] Sykes and [Jack E.] Oliver came out.
Doel:"New Global Tectonics."
Raleigh:Yes, wonderful paper. It blew me away; a superb piece of work. So I had great admiration for Lynn. At the Survey we were involved in the earthquake prediction research, and Lynn was on one of the advisory committees. When I first arrived at the Survey at Menlo Park several of us had lunchtime meetings to talk about science. The Denver earthquakes came up. I remember I was still wearing a tie and a coat — my hangover from Australia. I went to the board and showed how it would have been possible for the fluid pressure to have triggered the earthquakes in an analysis very similar to the paper that we actually wrote in its final form. Lou Pakiser said, "Why don't you and Healy write this paper?" And Jack [H.]Healy is a terrific guy, but not a guy who writes papers, so I ended up writing most of it. Later, Bill [William W.] Rubey (who was one of our coauthors) said — I don't know how he knew about this — he said there were earthquakes recorded by an Air Force observatory at Vernal, Utah that appeared to be coming from the vicinity of the Rangeley Oil Field. Perhaps the earthquakes were associated there with the fact that they were injecting water in the field at high pressure. So Jack Healy and I gathered up some portable instruments to go there, but I said, "All right, Jack. Denver was yours; this is mine." [laughs] So he said, "Okay." We got the portable seismographs over, recorded for a week or so, and then we got the data back and sure enough the earthquake came from the oil field and it looked like they were located at levels that would have been consistent with the depth of injection. The money to do this came about because Jack Evernden had left Berkeley to go to ARPA. I don't know who he heard it from, but it must have been Pakiser originally or maybe Frank Press about these triggered earthquakes. Jack and I talked about it somewhere at a meeting and then he came back to the Survey and said, "Okay. ARPA will fund you guys at" — I don't know what it was, a couple million dollars a year, something like that — "and we want you to fund research into this topic. But not just at the Survey but other places as well. And we want Raleigh to run the funding program." Hal [Harold] James, the chief geologist, said that's okay. And I said, "I don't want to do that. Let somebody else do it. I'm spending my time doing research."
Doel:You didn't want that added administrative —
Raleigh:No, I didn't want the administrative burden at all. So Halsaid, well Evernden said somebody like Barry Raleigh and he said, "I don't know anybody else like Barry Raleigh, so you're it. If you want the money to do the Rangeley research you are going to have to do it." So of course I said okay. And in a wonderful kind of footnote to what times were like, I said, "Okay, I got this money. What I'm going to do?" — I think it was at a fall AGU meeting in San Francisco — "I'll call Don Anderson and Lynn Sykes, Kei Aki and I don't know, one or two others, Carl Kisslinger maybe, and get them to sit down in a room with me and I'll tell them what I want to do with this money and I'll fund them."
Doel:[laughs] Things were far more [?]. This is the early '70s now? Is that right?
Raleigh:[laughs] Yes, that's right. Yes, in fact this would be still '69 maybe, '69, '70, something like that.
Doel:Is that right. This is prior to the time that you become the chief of the [?] Tectonics.
Raleigh:No, I wasn't chief of anything then. So we met, and they wrote back to me and said what they'd like to do, and we funded them. The result was that I had some of the best seismologists in the United States working on this set of problems which we had this money to solve. I couldn't see a better way to organize a program. It was not at all time consuming. Then the procurement people write me a letter saying that they think this probably is not legal. But it was really too late for them to do anything about it. They had never funded extramural research in the Survey before. It was really breaking new ground. Anyway, I finally did have to go to a proposal and review process, but we got launched on the right foot with the right people. Lynn was one of the people who was there. Lamont and Lynn always delivered. It was a very productive and very solid group of seismology and rock mechanics researchers at Lamont. I thought that they, in terms of what you asked them to do or what they proposed to do, that they would deliver. And Cal Tech might or might not. They might take the money and do something different with it. But Lamont was always more concerned — well I mean they had to be concerned about bringing in funds. Otherwise they didn't survive. They tended to be responsive in a way that a typical university might not be. That's one of the things I liked about them.
Doel:Interesting. Did they seem exceptional in that sense among the other competing institutions?
Raleigh:Yes, I thought so. Yes. There really wasn't anything quite like Lamont on the horizon — for me, anyway, in my particular field.
Doel:Had you visited Lamont at that point?
Raleigh:I visited once, later on though. [Chris] Sholz was there and —
Raleigh:Yes, a very junior guy. No, and that was like the winter of either '72 or '73. I've forgotten exactly. But that was the only time I had been there until much later. I was just thinking about Rangeley again. That was one of those experiments made in heaven. When we did get the money, of course there were all sorts of people wanting to do different things. But I just said no, we are going to locate the earthquakes, we are going to monitor the fluid pressure and try to predict how it's distributed as a function of time in the field. We're not going to make any surface strain measurements because it's pointless. We really got it narrowed down to the essential problems; of course, ultimately the measurement of stress by hydraulically fracturing the hole, as they had done inadvertently at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. It was a critical issue.
Raleigh:So we did have to fund someone else to do that. Evernden had said, "You guys have got to distribute this around." We got a Minnesota group with Charley Fairhurst and a student who actually oversaw the measurements with me. It actually all worked just as you would have hoped it would. I mean it was a very simple-minded experiment, because the physics is related to the initiation of earthquakes, not the propagation rupture.
Raleigh:But the initiation of earthquakes, everything previously done said it had to be governed by the very simple relationship between stress and fluid pressure that Hubbert and Rubey had originally devised. It was just a matter then of knowing the state of stress and the fluid pressure. It had never been done in a controlled experiment in the field and nobody had ever tried to scale up the laboratory experiments to faults more than a few tens of centimeters.
Doel:Right. Of course [M. King] Hubbert had talked a lot about scaling in geology and geophysics.
Raleigh:Yes, that was one of Hubbert's tours de force. He was a brilliant guy, really impressive. That was a good paper. I think people have almost forgotten it. I repeatedly found myself years later rediscovering something Hubbert had done. He really was a great man.
Doel:Yes. Picking up again after a very short break, how long did that program last when you had the DARPA funds? Did that go through the early 1970s?
Raleigh:It was a very short time. It was about five years.
Doel:Yes. How much administrative time did that take?
Raleigh:Not too much.
Doel:You have really got a [?].
Raleigh:It wasn't bad. A secretary did a lot of the work. But I didn't really like the administrative part of it, and I didn't do it terribly well.
Doel:What I thought interesting is that clearly there were people in the Survey who recognized your abilities to do, to manage projects of these sorts. Or is that not true?
Raleigh:I don't know how they could have, because they certainly gave no indications of it. I was really intent about not following the rules. And I do remember getting into real battles with the procurement people when we started contracting. I mean they just didn't understand what university research was all about, and they wanted to do it just as they would procure a screwdriver; a really very, very rocky period. They got better, but it took a long time. It was really a clash of cultures that I had to deal with. But I didn't want to be an administrator. I was having too much fun doing other things.
Raleigh:I think Evernden was the one who said, you know, "Have Raleigh do it." I mean Jack didn't know anything about any administrative abilities I might have or not have. I didn't really care about doing the administrative part particularly well, frankly. I just wanted to do it with a minimum amount of time and effort spent.
Doel:That's actually a very good approach to doing it.
Raleigh:[chuckles] Actually, I agree. I still agree. But let's see. When that project ended — Of course around that time I was getting a divorce and I really was in a very — kind of a bad period, so I wasn't as productive scientifically as normally as I think I would have been. And somewhere around in there I guess I'd become a branch chief, and I've forgotten what year that was.
Doel:Seventy-three you had become branch chief.
Raleigh:Yes. Actually that wasn't too much of a struggle. What happened though is I found out, actually to my horror that a few people who formerly have been your colleagues would want to come talk to you about issues that were personal. They'd have some particular problem they were struggling with and they would tell me about it. What am I, some kind of confessor? I'd go home exhausted from listening to this stuff. [laughs] I didn't know what advice to give people for God's sake. So I'd sort of sit there and listen. Oh. Then just the business of how you deal with people in a less personal, more as boss and subordinate had never really been something I had ever had to deal with in a serious way.
Doel:This is when you became the branch chief.
Raleigh:Yes, when you become a branch chief. So —
Doel:How did you feel about that possibility?
Raleigh:I guess by the time I did it, it was kind of understood that people had to take their turn in the Survey. It was one of the great things about it. I really liked the fact that the branch chiefs, the chief geologists, the associate chief geologist were all scientists, first and foremost, and they did these jobs out of a sense of duty to the institution itself. So you took it as a kind of obligation to make the Survey work in the way that we thought was best, to have scientists run it. You had to take your turn. It was not as though it was an honor or you got paid any more for God's sake; you just ended up with this obligation to perform. And I think that's the way most of the good people in the Survey took those jobs. They didn't take them as something that they lusted for. They're not ambitious for administrative glory. So that's the way I took it. And it was fine. I didn't have a lot of difficulty with it, and people seemed more or less to accept me without too much strife. There were some awkward moments though. We had two guys who had come to Menlo Park at the same time. They shared a laboratory with a portable partition down the middle of the laboratory because they had become less congenial over time. They also shared a machinist in the shop. One of them was getting more of the machinist's time than the other one was getting. And I thought to myself, "This is really kind of silly. What these guys need to do is sit around down across the table and just have this damn thing out, you know. I'll force 'em to talk, and then I'll get them to see what the obvious decision should be, and I won't even have to make a decision." What was happening with the partition in the middle of their space was that one of the guys would come in the middle of the night and move it over one centimeter, steadily encroaching on the other's space. [laughter] So anyway, so I get 'em in there and sit 'em down and I say, "Okay," you know, "Lou here feels there is an unequal sharing of technician machinist time, and that the space has been encroached on. What do you say?" And Jim says, "Well, he never publishes anything and doesn't do any work, and therefore he shouldn't have any of the machinist's time." And the other guy gets hot under the collar and he says, "Well, it's just that everybody is afraid to confront you because they're afraid you are going to have another heart attack and keel over." At that point the other guy is getting purple in the face. They were about to go at each other's throats. I slammed my hand down on the table and I said, "That's it. Lou, you get two days a week, Jim, you get three, move the partition back six inches and get out of here. Get out!"[laughter] So I learned something about need for occasionally making a command decision without too much discussion. It was funny. I thought they were going to kill each other. I don't remember that first run at being branch chief as having any particularly important moments, however.
Doel:Did you feel it had cut back appreciably on the amount of research time that you had?
Raleigh:Oh yes. Oh, it does, it does. You know, it depends on how you do it. But it does, sure. And it was a pretty good sized branch, and they were awfully good people. I mean the tectonophysics group, when it was organized had Art Lachenbruch and Jim Savage. And they were able to hire good young people. It really was excellent.
Doel:I'm curious. By the mid-1970s did you feel that your views on fluid injection high pressure were being generally accepted by the community, or were there still areas of —?
Raleigh:Yes. I thought they were probably pretty well accepted, at least for crustal earthquakes. Yes. The deep-focus ones were still in contention. There were all kinds of other arguments about how you might get deep-focus earthquakes. And then of course the calculations on the plate remaining cool as it dived beneath the island arcs meant that you could presumably still have brittle failure, but at awfully high stresses. You still see papers calling on some other hydrated mineral to dehydrate to cause earthquakes. There have been a lot of other suggestions of different ways to do it — particularly for deepest focus earthquakes. And God knows I don't have any strong feelings about dehydration being effective there.
Doel:I was just thinking that 1975 was the time that you had received your patent, if I recall correctly.
Raleigh:Oh yes, on hydrofracturing?
Raleigh:Yes, that was funny. Some guy who was a former Livermore [Laboratory] bomber had gone to work for a company that was going to do underground explosions to release gas from tight gas formations in the Rifle area. And he came in to see me for advice on something, and I said, "Gee, I don't think it's going to work. You guys just want to set off more bombs or something." I said, "Why don't you just slant the hole and produce multiple hydrofracs along it? If you slant it in the right direction, you can have a lot of surface area to extract the gas from hydraulic fractures. He wasn't interested in that. So I mentioned it to Dave Evans, the Denver geologist who figured out the Rocky Mountain Arsenal earthquakes. He said, "Gee Barry, you ought to really patent that idea," said, "You're not getting any younger." I must have been thirty seven years old or thirty eight. So I said, "Yes, all right, I'll do it." I filed with the Survey and the Patent Office determined that this was something that I could file for myself. Dick [Richard] Shelton didn't think I should have, it should have been the property of the U.S. Government. But as it turns out it didn't make any difference anyway because it never made any money.
Doel:In part because the technique simply wasn't utilized at the time that it would —
Raleigh:Nobody had ever thought of doing it that way. Basically what you want from these tight sands is a way to expose as much surface area as possible. And the same is true for trying to extract geothermal heat from dry rock. The thermal conductivity is so low that if you just use a single fracture you cool the walls of it so quickly that you don't really extract very much heat no matter how large the surface area of the crack is. But if you make a whole bunch of these fractures like the fins of a radiator, obviously you can get much more bang for the single hole that you drill. I heard later that the technique has been used, but I never bothered to try to prosecute the patent in any way.
Doel:You had also gone over to China two times in this period because of the —
Raleigh:Oh yes, that's right. That was really interesting. Yes, the '74 trip to China was absolutely a fascinating trip. I still have a huge notebook on it. I took copious notes on the whole trip. What a different world, just unbelievable. Mao Tse-tung was still in power. People were so afraid that no one asked a single question about the United States the whole time I was there, not one. And you know they have to have been very curious. Not once.
Doel:That was still the end at least of the Cultural Revolution.
Raleigh:Yes, that's right, it was. When we were in Kunming there was a poster war going on between two factions on the issue that one of the faction leaders who had shot someone was released from prison and was coming back into Kunming. It was still fairly hot. But I don't think any of us had a clue when we went there the extent to which the cultural war had ravaged China: Unbelievable. It's still unbelievable. We didn't understand what it was all about. There was a whole generation missing of trained scientists. They just shut the universities down. They had just re-opened when we were there, Beijing University and one or two others. One-tenth of one percent of people went to college. It was really a tragic, tragic loss of talent.
Doel:Had you gotten to any of the research labs when you were in China?
Raleigh:Yes. They were I mean really pathetic. They were very poorly equipped, just beginning to get some access to computing power. But they were trying to build it themselves. I mean, they had no foreign exchange to buy much, but we wouldn't sell them anything very sophisticated. Everywhere we went they would always have representatives of the peasants, the workers and the soldiers bringing their sort of native wisdom about earthquakes to the table, and you would get these real ambitious political hacks, you know, talking about earthquakes, and you look across the room at one of the scientists and they would be sitting there almost apologetic. They were embarrassed at the excesses of their government; fascinating time. Then we went back again two years later because they had the earthquake that they at least putatively predicted. As near as I can tell they did, although I still don't understand how they did it. Anyway, that was an interesting trip too, and for that one I led the group. That was focused on a single event, and we went to the field, and it was interesting. At the end of that trip, near the end of June, I asked the head of the state seismology group in the car on the way to the airport and I said, "Listen, we're not going to talk about this, we are not going to write about it, but please can you tell me confidentially do you have any current prediction that you think is imminent, that there is some big earthquake possibly coming? And he said, "Well, maybe out West," and mentioned a possible area but no, nothing nearby. Within a month the great Tangshan earthquake that was so destructive of human life occurred and they hadn't a clue. I mean they did not make any prediction whatever. I'm sure he would have said something, had they known anything about it.
Raleigh:Yes, it was but anyway, one of the stories from that trip [had to do with earthquake lights. One guy very much like a Western scientist, a very critical, very sharp seismologist, had been out to the area where they were predicting this earthquake, the Yingkou, the Liaoning Peninsula earthquake, and he was there when it happened. He described this light — he was only like ten kilometers away — this sheet of light with the intensity of a flash bulb maybe a hundred or two hundred meters high along the trace of the fault. He described it in such matter-of-fact terms that you just couldn't help but believe the guy saw it. Clearly, he was not making it up. And interestingly it's one of those phenomena I still don't think anybody has come up with a reasonable explanation for a lot of tries at it.
Doel:How often has that been described?
Raleigh:Frequently, much more so than people like to admit. In fact, in the Tangshan earthquake, an embassy person from the U.S. was up in the middle of the night looking out the window and he saw this very bright glow from Tangshan when the earthquake occurred. Other people have described it. They have even seen something that looked like scorching along the ground lines where the fault break occurred.
Doel:That's really interesting.
Raleigh:So let's see, to reel a little faster through the —
Doel:You became the acting branch chief again by 1977.
Raleigh:Yes. The reason I had to be acting was that I had become a GS-16. For some reason you can only be a 15 if you are a branch chief, I don't know why. I agreed to do it. I can't recall, for the life of me, why. Peter Ward and Bob Page were to be program heads for earthquake prediction on the one hand and earthquake hazards work on the other. They were to be in charge of funding all the research projects. The branch chiefs, who were supposed to be in charge of personnel and the execution of the project. So I put up with this for a little while and I decided to bail out. We went to a meeting in Golden, Colorado. [Robert] Hamilton was there, [Peter] Ward, [Bob] Page, myself, Dave Hill, Roger Borcherdt, all branch chiefs, and Jack Evernden. I said, "Look, I'm going to resign as branch chief because this is like an office manager job. If I don't control the funding, then I don't really manage, do I?" And so frankly, I don't know about these other two guys, but if I were them I wouldn't waste my time on a job like this either. You hire a GS-9; you don't need us, scientists, to do that job." Well, it put Hamilton in a bigger dilemma than I had thought. I suppose that my own criticism was not the only one to have been heard. I don't know what happened, but Ward at least stepped down, and then Bob [Page] had to get somebody to oversee the prediction program. That was me. I hadn't wanted to do it quite that way, but he asked me to do it, so I said all right, I'll do it. Evernden told me later that he told Sykes the story; it was a very charged meeting and I was basically kind of handling it with the wonderful power that you have from not giving a damn whether you were branch chief or not. Jack got a giggle out of it. Jack and I ended up writing a paper or two together during which we learned to have a lot of respect for each other. I began to think in 1979 that we weren't going to predict earthquakes easily; and in fact maybe not at all. It was a much tougher problem than anybody had imagined. I remember giving a talk at Stanford, and Mary Lou Zoback came up afterward and said, "Boy! I never heard you be so pessimistic about it." I hadn't realized I had been pessimistic. I think I was just trying to be real —
Doel:You felt you were being realistic?
Raleigh:Realistic about it. [laughs] But also, what had happened was I felt like I was getting kind of too narrow, that you know you are working on this set of earthquake related problems. Anyway, by the time Reagan gave his inaugural speech in January of '81, I heard it, and it was just like a flash of illumination: this is not going to be fun anymore. Really I mean.
Doel:It's very interesting that you perceived that quite quickly. It took a while for the policy.
Raleigh:Well, it was just like that [snaps fingers]. I said, "This guy does not mean well by us." I called John Filson in Washington the next day and said, "John, you are going to have to start looking for another boy. I'm not going to stay in the Survey. I'm going to find another job somewhere." I started kind of poking around to see what else was out there.
Doel:You had mentioned earlier that you were also noticing changes within the Survey that had troubled you, and I'm wondering what sorts of things, as you look back from the late '70s, very early '80s.
Raleigh:I think the people who were filling jobs in Washington were really there more for their, I guess for their bureaucratic skills than for their scientific strengths. They were becoming less the sort of recognizably imminent scientists than they had been in the past. While on the face of it there is nothing really wrong with that, it nevertheless lowers by one notch your estimation of the people that you are working for. I think it's just that every administration, Democratic or Republican, had begun to squeeze down on your flexibility to operate, to hire, to fire, to expend money. It really was becoming more laborious and tedious to do the job. It was becoming a lot less fun and a lot more time spent doing fruitless and pointless bureaucratic exercises. It wasn't that bad, don't get me wrong, but the decline was a fairly steady one over time, and it didn't show signs of recovering. And when you get a guy like Reagan as President, you know that things are not going to get better, they are going to get distinctly worse. I probably had felt it was time for a change anyway, so I was ready to go.
Doel:You were feeling it on a few fronts.
Doel:That increasing narrow specialization if you were involved in the Survey itself.
Doel:What sort of things were you thinking about when you began to imagine alternative places to be at?
Raleigh:I was really quite open to anything that sounded interesting. One company wanted to hire me and I decided I didn't want to do that, at least not at that particular company. I wasn't looking into oil companies or anything. I wasn't interested in that. Texas A&M [University] was offering me an endowed chair, and we went down there to visit. I was remarried by this time. I wasn't too sure about Texas A&M, you know, kind of a funny place. Students go around in these cavalry boots.
Doel:The culture didn't quite fit what you were comfortable with.
Raleigh:It wasn't my Menlo Park culture. Yes, to give you a contrast, this is worth mentioning. I was really, like most people of any sensitivity, upset by the war in Vietnam. And when I was in Australia in 1964 when the first serious heating up of the war took place, I went to a lecture and discussion that evening at the university. Some economist who knew a lot about Southeast Asia was there. He said, "Why is the United States so concerned about this domino theory?" He said, "The Vietnamese hate the Chinese. There is no chance whatever that China is going to infect in some way with its own hegemony the Vietnamese. They are going develop in whatever way they wish." He spoke with such knowledge, really very sensible. So when the United States began digging itself further and further, I followed it very closely and was concerned for what a quagmire we were getting into anyway. But when I lived in Palo Alto we had, I had a friend who is a real kind of left wing English guy, John Harrison was his name. Yes. Anyway, John and I had been involved in something where the John Birch Society had been trying to get into the school systems in a really sneaky, horrible way, and they had attacked the multi-cultural education program at Palo Alto schools, which were by and large excellent schools. It was under heavy fire from the Birch Society, who did not identify themselves as Birch Society members. So we sort of arrayed ourselves on the opposite camp and began to dig out information about them and wrote this rather scholarly booklet about the attack, showing that it was pure Birch Society, the whole thing. Exposed them, sent them fleeing back under the rocks they crawled out from. When the Cambodian invasion on our part took place, I was incensed, as were a lot of other people, and John and I organized a kind of symbolic strike at SLAC [?]. And I encouraged people at the Survey to join it, and we got Linus Pauling to give a talk, and a few other people talked. Linus talked about Vitamin C. [laughs] He did!
Raleigh:People were kind of looking around quizzically, "Why are we here?" We collected a dollar from everybody and put an ad in the Palo Alto Times, a full page ad, "Scientists and Engineers Oppose the War in Vietnam." So I had been politically active, and certainly not in the conservative camp, so Texas A&M was a little different. The chairman of the department, Stanton, like Frank Stanton or somebody like that said — he and I were having a little interview over lunch, and he was a very straight, not very humorous guy, he said, "Why did you leave Cal Tech?" I said, "Well, they wouldn't let me play football." I mean, what are you going to say to a question like that? So then another guy, an economist, had a reception and says, "Well, why would you want to come to Texas A&M?" I said, "Money. You're paying me a lot better than the USGS." He said, "Well, I'm an economist. I can understand that." Anyway, that was about the time then that I got the call from Lynn [Sykes] about the Lamont job. And I was really pretty thrilled with that. Admittedly I knew that that was not going to be anything like an endowed chair, that it would mean my career was going to take a distinct turn.
Doel:You had mentioned off-tape before we began the conversation that you had with Lynn after you had heard about Manik Talwani's dismissal. I wanted to make sure we got that on tape here.
Raleigh:Oh, that's right, it's not on tape. Pradeep Talwani, Manik's brother, was from the University of South Carolina and was working on sabbatical with me in the USGS on earthquakes and reservoirs. He came to me in January of '81 and told me this terrible story about Manik having been fired unceremoniously and treated really quite awfully by the university administration, would I write a letter on behalf of Manik to the president of the university. And I begged off, saying I really didn't know Manik and I didn't know enough of the facts. However, I saw Lynn Sykes at the Bryan Brady inquisition, you know, on his Lima [Peru] earthquake prediction, I think it was early March, and jokingly I said, "Lynn, you guys are going to have to hire somebody from within Lamont to be your next director." He bridled a bit and said, "Well, why is that?" and I said, "Because after the way you guys have carved up Manik Talwani you are not going to find anybody from outside Lamont dumb enough to take the job." I didn't know he was chairman of the search committee, and had supplied him with his first criterion for selection of the next director. Anyway, I had thought of Lamont not at all in the context of my leaving the Survey; that just was not on my radar screen. Although Chris Sholz had been out with us on sabbatical actually that fall, or that spring, and said something cryptically about Lamont later on, something to the effect that "We're going to get you to be director of Lamont," and it was the first I had even heard that that was even a possibility. It seemed like such a distant one, I didn't really give it much credibility.
Doel:As you say, you recognized that an opportunity like Lamont would be a major shift in your career.
Raleigh:Oh yes. Oh yes.
Doel:How did you feel about taking on that kind of a job again?
Raleigh:I told my current wife, was not my wife at the time that we were departing and I had been back for the first interview and she said, "Well, what did you find out?" and I said, "It's not what I found out," I said, "I'm afraid when I get there they're going to find out how little I know." [laughs] Everybody when they take a new and different and demanding job feels that one is not possibly going to be up to it. So much going on in such a different environment, so many different aspects of sciences that I was not involved in. I felt that probably they'd blundered. Hopefully I wouldn't let them find out about it at least for a few years. No, I'm serious. I approached it with all humility.
Doel:What was it like during that first interview that you had out there?
Raleigh:Actually it all really went quite well. You know, I liked the people, and Columbia treated me — I mean the search committee of Columbia faculty treated me well. You know, it was very congenial. They asked me, one of them, a physicist on the committee asked me whether I thought Lamont should expand into atmospheric sciences, and I said, "You know, they've pretty well carved out their directions. I think that's a major kind of shift in emphasis for Lamont, and I wouldn't think so."
Doel:Of course that's what you do.
Raleigh:Yes. I mean, never trust anybody in an interview to say something you can rely on. But, so what they did I thought was great, was they made their short list and put it in priority order. They were going to interview one at a time. So I was, as far as I know, the only one that they actually interviewed. And I said, "Yes, I'm very interested," so I went back for a second interview. My wife at the time distinctly did not want to go to Piermont, that area anyway. We were not in great shape anyway, so when I finally went in August I went without her, and as it turned out she just stayed in California. So —
Doel:I'm curious. When you —
Raleigh:Then there was a crisis going on. I went in August instead of when I was planning to, because John Mutter had come in to see Neil Opdyke, who was acting director, and said you know, "I don't know if you know it or not, but Manik and Paul Stoffar are recruiting people for a little seismic reflection data analysis and processing company over here in Pearl River, and you should know about it." So of course Neil was on his way out and I was on my way in, so they called me and I went back earlier than I had intended to. And once there, I just stayed. And that was August 7, 1981. So the first interview was April or May, something like that, and in three months I was in place.
Doel:It went fairly fast.
Raleigh:Yes, it did.
Doel:Yes. Who were the main, your main confidantes; those who were telling you about Lamont and its operations and what you need to know?
Raleigh:When I first got there I talked to Walter [C.] Pitman [III]; certainly Lynn [Sykes] somewhat. But to a considerable extent I was on my own. Interesting. It wasn't as though I had this, early on this little kitchen cabinet of people I can draw on for information and support. Walter was especially helpful, and he was on the search committee. I just sort of felt my way. I figured I had to. You know, you get too close to a few people there, and you may get a distorted perspective.
Doel:Sure. Even before you formerly accepted the position, what did you see to be the biggest challenges facing you at Lamont?
Raleigh:Oh, the place was in a state of real trauma from the firing of Talwani and the split that that had created. It was clearly an unhappy institution. You know, it really had divided the place badly. So I figured they are going to have to have a morale boost, and it also occurred to me it probably didn't matter too much what I did as long as I didn't add to the divisiveness. Things were in such a mess that it couldn't help but get better. If you just stand there and smile occasionally you would probably be fairly successful the first year or two. So I wasn't too worried about it. But it did clearly need some revival. And I didn't see, interestingly enough just where one ought to begin to build and boost. It wasn't immediately obvious when I first came what that should be. I remember giving a talk at the little library in Palisades, to just a few people. One of them was one of the board of trustees of the university. She later became dean of journalism. What was her name?
Doel:Again we can add that, if it doesn't come to mind.
Raleigh:Yes. I should remember it. But, and Diane, my current wife, had come over and was listening to the talk. When the talk and questioning was over, Diane said to me, "You know, I sense that it was a good thing they didn't ask you another question." I said, "That's right." I was completely out of information. I didn't know anything more about the subject. This was on CO2 induced global warming that was just beginning to become an issue. I would have had to have been blind not to pick climate research as an area of great potential for Lamont. Actually — and of course when I got there I found out most people, you know, because they do feel a strong sense of identity with the institution, wanted to see it succeed and get back on an even keel and have the morale come back. So my initial meetings with people were positive. I didn't get any of the spillover from the Talwani episode, I think primarily because most people were very anxious that the place reestablish its equilibrium, and were hoping that I would help make that happen, so they didn't want to make it more difficult for me than they had to.
Raleigh:That's of course one of the characteristics of Lamont that makes it such a great institution. There's much more cohesiveness than would appear on the face of it. If you just talk to people individually, you would see them competing with each other, grousing about all the money that someone else gets from the institution, suspicion, paranoia, but there is an underlying, very strong current of belief in the institution and a real kind of love for it, although you would never get anybody to admit that. [laughs] But I sensed it early on.
Doel:You picked it up pretty quickly.
Raleigh:Oh yes. It's easy to detect.
Doel:What sort of —? Did you make any firm demands on either Columbia or Lamont; preconditions that you wanted met in order to accept the position?
Raleigh:No, actually I didn't really. And I was kind of annoyed that those guys didn't tell me some of the conditions I should have set before I took the job. And I hadn't really ever — I had never really bargained for a job before, you know. So I was naive. But I went there, said great job, looks like fun, I'll take it. [laughs]
Doel:I'm curious what sort of things you are thinking about when you say what you wish you had done.
Raleigh:The level at which the faculty were paid was like six months a year of salary, and the endowment was under attack for those who wanted to see it folded back into Columbia's endowment, and a whole set of issues that when I later found out about them you know I had to fight to keep them, to improve them or keep them in a corrected form. So had I known I might have gotten a few assurances up front that certain things would not happen. At that time Columbia was feeling a pinch financially, and they saw that Lamont relatively speaking was well off, having some endowment of its own. So it was very difficult to get into the private fund raising channels that the rest of the university had better access to.
Doel:I was going to ask about whether they had discussed with you when you were thinking to come on board fund raising expectations, what role you would play in that.
Doel:Did you expect you would have to do that?
Raleigh:I really didn't think about it very much. It occurred to me that Lamont is a private institution, and there would be some fundraising to be done, but I had never done it before. And I didn't know New York. It wasn't as though I could walk up to a Rockefeller and ask for money. Of course the way that I might have gotten into the system would have been through Columbia. But I wasn't on the committees that were making decisions about who got to ask for something. That's something I should have insisted on, something I told Gordy [Gordon] Eaton to be sure that he demanded. And of course Talwani wasn't about to give me any advice, right?
Doel:How well did you know Manik Talwani; at all?
Raleigh:Not at all. I didn't know him at all. I talked to him when I first got there, and I tried —
Doel:Was he still living in —?
Raleigh:By the time I got there they had moved out of the house.
Doel:And out of the office as well.
Raleigh:Yes, he was moving out.
Doel:Because Neil Opdyke, if I recall correctly, had been in a separate office away from MG&G [Marine Geology and Geophysics] in the director's office.
Raleigh:Yes, yes. They moved out of the MG&G, yes, over to another building. And I took Opdyke's office rather than Manik's. But Manik was packing his stuff to move out of his office to set up his company, and I let him do it. I thought about it for a while, thinking should I just lock the doors, and I thought no, give him all the rope he wants. I actually did say, you know, "Manik, the first thing we should do is try to find an endowment for a chair and get you a chair," so you know trying to make him feel a little less angry. But he was very angry, very bitter at Columbia University. That's what drove him to start this company. He made a terrible mistake, while still being a full professor, hiring people away from Columbia University to go work in the company. Well, you can quit and then hire them away, but you can't do it while you're a full professor. That's a breach of your fiduciary responsibilities. I talked this over with Mike Sovern. We decided we would sue Gulf Oil Company and part of the settlement was that Manik would leave his professorship. Otherwise Columbia would actually fire him. And so I was given the task of calling Manik and telling him that he was fired. He said, "Have you ever heard of the AAU [sic]": Meaning American Association of University Professors [AAUP]. And he was very contentious, but in the end that all worked out okay. I think we got a couple hundred thousand dollars from Gulf Oil Company and Manik left his professorship, which was just as well for him. Coming back to Columbia would never have worked. He was far too embittered. His going to Texas really in the long run worked out well for all concerned. I see Manik occasionally and exchange greetings. Not chummy ones, but we're cordial.
Doel:Yes. That's very interesting. But it's clear that you were getting no advice on Lamont's issues from Manik.
Raleigh:Manik wasn't telling me anything. He was very closed-mouthed. Not directly hostile to me, because after all I had nothing to do with it. But not exactly friendly either. The best thing in the world was for him to get out of there. If he had hung around it would have been really unpleasant.
Raleigh:So it did help clear the air, I think. Everybody breathed a little easier when he left. What time have I got here?
Doel:We may want to take a break here.
Yes. I think I'm going to have to. Let's see what's on my secretary's calendar for me.
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