Get to know the SRC: Russell Cuthbertson

Meet the first employee recruited by founder Gary Gibson. Russell left SRC after 3 years to work for the Qld Dept of Mines and UQ, but returned to SRC to run our Queensland seismic networks 20 years ago. Russell and Gary now work part time as senior seismologists with Wayne, Elodie and Dee in our earthquake hazard assessment division.


A cheeky Russell pointing at the Balliang earthquake recording on a paper record for a local newspaper.

Q: When did you start working for the Seismology Research Centre?

A: First time was in 1976. Second time was in 2000!

Q: What was your first role at SRC, what do you do now, and how has it changed over time?

A: Started out doing all aspects of network operation: site installation, station operation and maintenance, record analysis. The main thing that has changed is in the technology – rather than driving out to collect paper seismogram they now get delivered to your desk in digital form!

Q: How did you become interested in seismology?

A: Sort of fell in to it by default. Was studying geophysics when a part-time job was offered.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: The varied nature of the work: from practical field work all the way through to theoretical research.

Q: What do you find most challenging?

A: Keeping up with technological changes.

Russell standing atop a granite boulder that toppled during the Balliang earthquake

Q: Do you have a vision or goal that you’d like to achieve in your career?

A: Solve the mystery of intraplate seismicity!

Q: If you had to work in another field, what would you want to do?

A: Cartography

Q: What has been your most memorable career moment?

A: Driving around the Sugarloaf Dam network at 3 in the morning (with Gary hanging on white knuckled) collecting seismograms of the Balliang earthquake (Dec 1977, ML 4.7) ready for the news cycle the next morning.

Q: What advice would you give to a student who wants a job like yours?

A: Go for it. It’s an interesting career – no matter which aspect you follow. Plus you get to see the strange look on people’s faces when they ask you what you do!