Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Title: Leon Knopoff Papers
Collection number: 1876
UCLA Library Special Collections
Language of Material:
17.25 linear ft.
(17 cartons, one half document box)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1955-2003
Date (inclusive): 1890-2010 (bulk 1955-2003)
The Leon Knopoff Papers (LSC Manuscript Collection 1876) document the professional and research career seismologist, geophysicist,
and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Professor Leon Knopoff (b.1925-d.2011). Knopoff was known for his range of
theoretical advances including a framework for the "double couple" model of an earthquake. The papers include: correspondence
(1953-2010); International Upper Mantle Committee files (1962-1981); files documenting Knopoff's research projects (1962-2005);
grant proposals, both funded and unfunded, involving Knopoff (1962-2003); subject files generated by Knopoff (1951-1991);
files generated by Knopoff as director of the UCLA Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (1972-1986); files documenting
Knopoff's activities as a member of the UCLA faculty and on behalf of the University of California (1956-2003); conference
files (1963-1994); laboratory notebooks (1925-1970); speeches and lectures by Knopoff (1957-2004); a master reprint set of
Knopoff's publications (1952-2012); and reprints acquired by Knopoff (1890; 1921-1983). Additionally, the collection documents
Knopoff's correspondence, research, and teaching as a musician and musicologist.
Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special
Collections for paging information.
Knopoff, Leon 1925-2011
Restrictions on Access
Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library
Special Collections for paging information.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are
retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright
and to pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The University of California Regents
do not hold the copyright.
[Identification of item], Leon Knopoff papers, 1890-2010 (Collection 1876). Library Special Collections. Charles E. Young
Research Library, UCLA.
Processed by Richard Fraser and Charlotte B. Brown, 2011-2013. Finding aid written by Richard Fraser, 2013.
Materials relating to personnel, for example tenure decisions, letters of reference, and performance evaluations, were not
acquired. In general, routine financial records were also not acquired.
Materials contained in the Reprints series were selected based on a combination of the following criteria: publication prior
to 1965; direct affiliation with research conducted by Knopoff; include citations to Knopoff publications; non-English language
reprints; reprints describing research conducted in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), and Turkey up
Leon Knopoff was born on July 1, 1925 in Los Angeles, California; B.S. in Electrical Engineering, California Institute of
Technology (1944); M.S. in Physics, California Institute of Technology (1946); PhD. in Physics and Mathematics California
Institute of Technology (1949). From 1948-1950 Knopoff was an Assistant and Associate Professor of Physics at Miami University
(Oxford, Ohio). In 1950 Knopoff was hired by Louis B. Slichter as a post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of
California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Institute of Geophysics (1950-1957); UCLA Associate Professor of Geophysics (1957-1959); UCLA
Professor of Geophysics (1959) and UCLA Professor of Physics (1961). Knopoff served as director of the University of California
Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics (Los Angeles Branch) from 1972 to 1986. Knopoff officially retired from UCLA
in 1994 but continued to conduct research until his death in 2011 in Los Angeles, California. SEE ALSO: http://leon.knopoff.com/
Leon Knopoff was known for his range of theoretical advances, including a framework for the "double couple" model of an earthquake.
Whereas Knopoff's initial UCLA appointment was in geophysics, his specialty was seismology, specifically the nature and causes
of earthquakes. He studied the earth's crust and mantle, with an emphasis on their structure, composition, and the forces
governing their movements. Knopoff also investigated: heat generated within the earth; differences in magnetic fields within
the earth's crust; the effects of earth tides; the propagation of waves and cracks in the earth's crust; and he developed
mathematical models of seismic phenomena.
Knopoff's mathematical approach to the analysis of earthquakes, plate tectonics, and the dynamics of the earth’s crust also
led him to become a pioneer in applying computers to seismographic analysis. One of his principal professional interests was
earthquake prediction by the measurement of cracks and movements in the earth’s crust and by calculating the probability of
earthquakes, based on the pattern and frequency of seismic events in a given region. (Burridge, R. and L. Knopoff "Model and
theoretical seismicity." Bulletin of the Seismology Society of America, v.57: 341-371.)
From 1970-1981, Knopoff coordinated a project to place seismographic stations in the European Alps, South America, and in
selected locations along the Mediterranean Sea. The project was a precursor to the establishment of the World Wide Standard
Seismographic Network (WWSSN). Additionally, from 1981-1988 Knopoff participated in the installation of a seismographic station
The international scope of Knopoff's research also had political implications. He was a frequent participant in Soviet (U.S.S.R.)-American
scientific exchange and maintained his contacts with scientists in what later became the Russian Federation. In 1974, he was
a member of a scientific delegation to the People's Republic of China, where he established professional relations and friendships
that lasted throughout his life.
Knopoff's scientific knowledge was not restricted to seismology, or even geophysics as such. In collaboration with George
Kennedy, he developed a method for archaeologists to date pottery by means of thermoluminescence. He also distinguished himself
as a musician and theorist of music. In 1963 Knopoff was appointed a research ethnomusicologist at the UCLA Institute of Ethnomusicology.
Knopoff was recognized for his contributions to science and received numerous awards, including the Emil Wiechert Medal of
the Deutsche Geophysicalische Gesellschaft in 1978, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1979, and the Medal
of the Seismological Society of America in 1990. He was elected a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society in 1991.
After his retirement from UCLA in 1994, Knopoff remained active in the IGPP and continued his research on a part-time basis.
Knopoff died on January 20, 2011 in Los Angeles.
Scope and Content
UCLA Manuscript Collection 1876 documents the professional and research career of geophysicist and seismologist Leon Knopoff
(b.1925-d.2011), and includes the following series:
International Upper Mantle Committee (UMC) files, 1962-1981 - correspondence, UMC monographs, and material relating to UMC
symposia. Knopoff was elected Secretary-General of the Committee in 1963.
Conference files, 1963-1994 - material relating to conferences which Knopoff attended and/or was otherwise affiliated. Material
relating to the Upper Mantle Committee (UMC) symposia are filed in the Upper Mantle Committee series. Conferences about Soviet-American
and Sino-American international cooperation are filed in the "U.S.-China Cooperation" and "U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cooperation" subseries
of the Research Projects series.
Research Projects, 1962-2005 - material pertaining to or created in conjunction with research projects affiliated with Knopoff.
Conferences about the Soviet Union and China are filed in this series. Series also includes selected grant proposals.
Subject files, 1951-1991 - material collected and organized by Knopoff. Files pertaining to music are in this series.
Grant Proposals, 1962-2003 - funded and unfunded proposals submitted by Knopoff or affiliated with Knopoff. SEE ALSO: Research
Projects series for selected grant proposals.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California (UC) files, 1956-2003 - material relating to Knopoff's
administrative roles as a member of the UCLA faculty and on behalf of the University of California. Includes Knopoff's service
as an advisor to both UCLA and to the UC system regarding earthquake safety.
Speeches and Lectures, 1957-2004 - material pertaining to Knopoff's public speaking engagements, including nonacademic presentations.
Knopoff Publications, 1952-2012 - master reprint set of published works authored by Knopoff; also includes some drafts and
Reprints, 1890; 1921-1983 - published works authored by others and acquired by Knopoff. Includes reprints published in: China,
Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South America, the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), and Turkey. Many of the reprints Knopoff acquired
from the reprint files of Louis B. Slichter. [Note: Slichter was the first director of the UCLA Institute of Geophysics.]
Laboratory Notebooks, 1925-1970 - laboratory notebooks retained by Knopoff, including a notebook originally owned and used
by Louis B. Slichter.
The following initialisms will be found throughout the collection:
- AEC = Atomic Energy Commission
- AFOSR = Air Force Office of Scientific Research (United States Air Force)
- APS = American Philosophical Society
- ARPA = Advanced Research Projects Agency (also known as DARPA = Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
- EQ = Earthquake
- IASPEI = International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior
- IGPP = Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
- IRIS = Incorporated Research Institute for Seismology
- IUGG = International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics (UNESCO)
- LASA = Large Aperture Seismic Array
- NAS = National Academy of Sciences
- NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- NSF = National Science Foundation
- SCEC = Southern California Earthquake Center
- SSA = Seismology Society of America
- UMC = International Upper Mantle Committee
- WWSSN = World Wide Standard Seismographic Network
Organization and Arrangement
In general, the contents of all series reflect the original order of Knopoff's files.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
Correspondence - general correspondence to/from Knopoff, arranged chronologically; additional correspondence files created
by Knopoff and arranged alphabetically by name of the person or organization.
International Upper Mantle Committee (UMC) files - correspondence files are arranged chronologically; also includes UMC monographs
and files on UMC symposia. [Note: additional files on the work of the World Wide Standard Seismographic Network and the work
of the International Upper Mantle Committee are also located in other series and subseries, to maintain Knopoff's original
Conference files - conferences, arranged alphabetically by sponsoring organization and/or location of conference. Research
Projects - arranged alphabetically.
Subject files - miscellaneous subjects identified by Knopoff and arranged alphabetically.
Grant Proposals - general files of grant proposals arranged chronologically. Additional proposal files created by Knopoff
are arranged chronologically within each named proposal.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California (UC) Files - arranged alphabetically
Speeches and Lectures - arranged alphabetically by title.
Knopoff Publications - arranged chronologically; include an index to the publications. [Note: inconsistencies in the numbering
system assigned to each Knopoff publication have been noted]
Reprints - arranged alphabetically by author.
Laboratory Notebooks - arranged alphabetically.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
International Upper Mantle Committee -- Archival Resources
University of California, Los Angeles. Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics -- Archival resources