- Associated Press - Friday, January 7, 2011

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) - John “Jack” Oliver, a professor emeritus at Cornell University and geophysicist who specialized on plate tectonics and using seismic waves to explore the Earth’s crust, has died. He was 87.

Oliver died Wednesday, according to Bangs Funeral Home in Ithaca, N.Y., which is handling the arrangements. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.

Oliver earned bachelors and masters degrees in physics and a doctorate in geophysics at Columbia University. He went on to become chairman of the geology department at Columbia and head of the earthquake seismology program at the university’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory.

In 1971, Oliver was named chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences at Cornell. According to information provided by his family, Oliver concentrated on researching continental geology and using seismic technology for exploration.

He was the founding director of the Institute for the Study of the Continents and, along with colleague Sidney Kaufman, established the Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling, a program for exploration using seismic reflection technology.

Oliver was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and former president of both the Seismological Society of America and the Geological Society of America. In 1958 and 1959, he was a seismological adviser on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and a delegate to negotiations in Geneva. Among his awards are the Kaufmann Gold Medal of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in 1983, and the Geological Society of America’s top honor, the Penrose Medal, in 1998.

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