Physical Science Technician, Station Fire Burn Area, Los Angeles, California
U.S. Geological Survey
How Robert Leeper got involved with U.S. Geological Survey
I was initially paired with the USGS as an intern through the Southern California Earthquake Center. After my internship expired, my supervisor asked me if I would like to continue working with the USGS and the Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project. I happily accepted her offer and was employed in the STEP program.
One thing I experienced on the job that I'll never forget occurred on Feb 6th, 2010, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California. I was called to the scene after debris flows breached containment basins and inundated the communities below them. When I saw the destruction and unimaginable power of the debris flows, my respect for the diversity of geohazards in southern California was taken to a new level.
Robert Leeper's accomplishments
Prior to the debris flow events on Feb 6th, 2010, I installed debris flow monitoring equipment in the watershed above one of the containment basins that was breached. I was able to collect data on the timing of the debris flows that occurred on Feb 6th and correlate it with rainfall rates recorded close to the watershed on the same day. We now have a better understanding of the timing of post-fire debris flows relative to rainfall. This information can be used to start developing and testing debris flow models, and it shows that effective warnings need to be issued before a storm is above a burn area.
Robert Leeper's next steps
My next step is to complete my B.S. in Geology and then apply to graduate school. I also plan to continue working for the USGS as long as possible.
Hometown: Whittier, California
School: California State University, Fullerton