Paul G. Silver Fellowship

Carnegie seismologist and geophysicist Paul  G. Silver died in a tragic automobile accident in North Carolina on August 7, 2009. A member of the research staff at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM), since 1982, Silver was an international leader in understanding how earthquakes are triggered and how they interact with each other. The Paul G. Silver Postdoctoral Fellowship in Seismology has been established at DTM to honor his extraordinary contributions to science. To donate to the fellowship, please fill out the form at this link.


Silver made a series of important contributions to earthquake research by observing the slow redistribution of stress and strain in the Earth. In one long-term study of small earthquakes triggered by a large event in southern California, he and his colleagues discovered an annual cycle: fall had the greatest number of earthquakes, spring the least. The team found that this pattern could be related to barometric pressure changes—less pressure meant reduced stress on the faults, which permitted them to move more frequently.


He was widely recognized for developing the techniques to determine the direction-dependence of seismic wave speeds in the Earth’s upper mantle, a procedure now in widespread use to study the patterns of convective flow in the Earth’s interior and the processes by which the continents were assembled. For more information about Silver’s contributions to Earth science see