Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Leon Knopoff papers, 1890-2010 (bulk 1955-2003)
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (181.31 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing History
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement

  • Title: Leon Knopoff papers
    Collection number: 1876
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 21.4 linear ft. (21 cartons and 1 document box)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1955-2003
    Date (inclusive): 1890-2012
    Abstract: The Leon Knopoff Papers (LSC Manuscript Collection 1876) document the professional and research career of the 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.
    Language of Materials: Primarily in English; some materials in Chinese, French, Italian, German, and Russian
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.
    Creator: Knopoff, Leon, 1925-

    Restrictions on Access

    Box 12, folders 8 and 33 are closed for confidentiality. The rest of the collection is 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Leon Knopoff Papers (Collection 1876). Library Special Collections. Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Donated from Joanne Knopoff in 2013. Addition accessioned in 2014.

    Processing History

    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 through ca.1980.
    Addition processed by Mary Priest in 2015 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT) , with assistance from Jillian Cuellar. Processing of this collection was generously supported by Constantine and Perina Panunzio Endowment for University Archives.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7285426 


    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 in Antarctica.
    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:
    Correspondence, 1953-2010
    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 referee comments.
    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.
    Addition, 1934-1996 – laboratory notebooks, correspondence, conference files, publications, and items relating to Knopoff’s personal life.
    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.
    • Series 1: Correspondence, 1953-2010
    • Series 2: International Upper Mantle Committee (UMC) files, 1962-1981
    • Series 3: Conference files, 1963-1994
    • Series 4: Research Projects, 1962-2005
    • Series 5: Subject files, 1951-1991
    • Series 6: Grant Proposals, 1962-2003
    • Series 7: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California (UC) files, 1956-2003
    • Series 8: Speeches and Lectures, 1957-2004
    • Series 9: Knopoff Publications, 1952-2012
    • Series 10: Reprints, 1890; 1921-1983
    • Series 11: Laboratory Notebooks, 1925-1970
    • Series 12: Addition 1934-1996

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    International Upper Mantle Committee--Archives.
    University of California, Los Angeles. Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics--Archives.