The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


The Geology and Mineralogy departments which were separate units in 1908, became a single Department of Geology and Mineralogy in 1961 and were officially renamed the Department of Geological Sciences by Regental action in Fall 1979. Professor Ermine C. Case chaired the Department of Geology and directed the Museum of Paleontology from 1934 through 1939, but Professor Irving D. Scott served as Acting Chairman in 1940-41, while Professor Case continued as Director of the Museum of Paleontology through 1940-41. Subsequently the Department of Geology was chaired by professors Kenneth K. Landes (1941-51), Edwin N. Goddard (1951-56), and James T. Wilson (1956-61). The Department of Mineralogy was chaired by professors Walter F. Hunt (1933-51) and Lewis S. Ramsdell (1951-61). Thereafter, the merged Department of Geology and Mineralogy was chaired by professors Donald F. Eschman (1961 through December 1966, Acting 1977-78), John A. Dorr, Jr. (January 1967 through 1971), Charles I. Smith (1971-77), and William C. Kelly (1978-). The Museum of Paleontology was directed by professors E. C. Case (1928-41), Lewis B. Kellum (1941-66), Robert V. Kesling (1966-74), and Gerald R. Smith (1974-).

Page  161The departments of Geology and Mineralogy moved into the new Natural Science Building in 1915. The Museum of Paleontology moved into the new Museum Building in 1928. From 1915 until 1970 the departments of Geology and Mineralogy occupied increasingly crowded quarters in the Natural Science Building until August when they moved as one department into the newly renovated Clarence Cook Little Science Building (formerly East Medical Building). This added space made it possible to move the Subsurface Laboratory of the department from the North University Building back within the same building. By 1975, however, with the growth of new laboratories, particularly in geophysics, space again became short.

In the undergraduate teaching program changes in interests and personnel, college requirements, the geological profession, and the interests of society at large necessitated frequent course and curriculum changes. The department created new courses, revised others, and variously attempted to meet the dropping enrollments in its introductory courses and to respond to new needs. A one-term combined Physical-Historical Geology laboratory course was instituted (1966) by Professor C. I. Smith. In 1969, the laboratories of this course became open-scheduled autotutorial, the first of this kind in U.S. college geology teaching. Introductory Geology for Engineers, added to the on-campus program in 1954, was also taught at Camp Davis from 1958 through 1964 by Professors Landes, Heinrich, and Cloke.

Professional and societal concerns led in 1971 to creation of an Environmental Geology course including problem-solving practice. The same year the department became associated with the LS&A Environmental Studies Program, directed for several years by Professor D. F. Eschman of the department.

The department long has educated students for professional careers. By 1940 the B.S. undergraduate concentration program offered specializations in physical geology, mineral deposits, petrology, and stratigraphy and invertebrate paleontology. Meteorology, long an interest of the department, was taught to servicemen during World War II, and from 1942 to 1948 appeared as an additional department specialization option at the undergraduate level. Thereafter, meteorology became a specialization of the newly-created Page  162Meteorology and Oceanography Department of the College of Engineering (later renamed the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science). Geophysics became an undergraduate specialization option in 1942. At about the same time, the Mineralogy Department renamed its program Mineralogy and Petrology, thus incorporating certain aspects of the study of rocks. From the early 1950s until the merger, the Mineralogy Department offered specializations in either mineralogy or crystalography. A Vertebrate Paleontology and Stratigraphy option was added in 1957; Geochemistry in 1959. By 1962, shortly after the merger of Geology and Mineralogy, the specialization options consisted of crystallography, mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, geophysics, physical and historical geology, invertebrate paleontology and stratigraphy, vertebrate paleontology and stratigraphy, and metalliferous geology, reflecting an increased range of faculty competence and interests.

A clear distinction between requirements for "concentration" and "specialization" in the undergraduate geology degree program appeared in 1944. Specialization was intended as a more rigorous preparation for professional work. Later (1962) the terms changed to "cultural" and "professional" concentration, but the intent remained the same. Undergraduate concentrators interested in doing graduate work in law, business administration, or environmental studies tended primarily toward the cultural program with its less rigorous science and mathematics cognate requirements. An upperclass honors concentration program was added in 1960, coinciding with the establishment of the LS&A Honors Program. For many years, prospective secondary school teachers had included geology courses in their programs. In 1967 a formal Teachers Certificate Program in Earth and General Science was initiated, enabling LS&A students to obtain both a concentration degree in geology and a teacher's certificate, and facilitating work toward a master's degree in the substantive field of geology. Throughout the entire period of this history, certain of the faculty offered many introductory and special courses at off-campus University Extension Service centers throughout the state. In 1967, with the addition of Professor Jack L. Hough to the Meteorology and Oceanography Department, the College of Engineering began an undergraduate program in geological oceanography and Professor Hough became an adjunct member of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy.

Page  163Until shortly after World War II, some stable, long-term professional careers were available to graduates holding only the Bachelor of Science degree, but after World War II a graduate degree became a necessity. This stemmed largely from: (1) increasing professionalism of geological science, (2) loss of curriculum time at the undergraduate level due to the need for enhanced cognate science and mathematics backgrounds, and (3) an increase in college requirements which consumed additional undergraduate program time. Thus, paradoxically, although the number of options for specialization in its undergraduate concentration program increased, the department began to discourage early specialization, preferring to emphasize a "core" program which left specialization to the graduate level. Teaching at the graduate level, and faculty and graduate student research in geology and to some extent in mineralogy, still were largely descriptive and field oriented in 1940. Subsequently, interests shifted to a more balanced mixture of field, laboratory, and theoretical studies. A marked growth occurred after about 1970 in research funded by outside agencies. This was largely due to increasing interest in such fields as geophysics, ore deposits, and petrology, where relatively higher funding levels prevailed. Global interests were incorporated in research, especially in the late 1960s and early '70s with the upsurge of interest in the plate tectonics concept. Growth characterized certain departmental graduate programs. Geophysics came to include work in seismology heat flow, and paleomagnetism. Seismological capabilities had existed at the University, as part of astronomy programs, prior to 1941, but in that year a Seismological Observatory, eventually becoming part of nation- and world-wide networks, was established in the Geology Department. Directors were J. T. Wilson (1941-58), J. M. DeNoyer (1958-64), H. N. Pollack (1964-68, 1971-76), P. W. Pomeroy (1968-71), and F. J. Mauk (1976-). The Paleomagnetics Laboratory was established in 1973, directed by R. Van der Voo.

The Subsurface Laboratory, begun in 1941 by Professor K. K. Landes and Dr. George V. Cohee of the U.S. Geological Survey, grew to include thousands of well records from the Great Lakes region, including mounted cuttings, slabbed cores, and drillers' logs. Its directorship passed to Professor L. I. Briggs in 1958. The majority of these records were put into a computerized information retrieval system Page  164providing data for faculty and students, and for researchers from academic institutions and industry outside the University.

The Quaternary Research Laboratory (before 1968 called the Glacial Geology and Polar Research Laboratory), organized in 1961, originally was directed by Dr. James H. Zumberge as a division of the Institute of Science and Technology, but that relationship with the Institute terminated after 1975. Other directors were Dr. C. W. M. Swithinbank (1962-63) and William R. Farrand from 1965 to date. Research projects, supported by substantial outside grants, included coring of sediments in Lake Superior and studies on the Ross Ice Shelf of the Antarctic. Since 1965, interdisciplinary research in archeological geology and Quaternary paleobiology has been included in the laboratory program.

Computer-assisted research had increased by 1965 to the point that a course in computer utilization in the earth sciences was instituted. Availability of funds both internally and from outside granting agencies for the use of the University of Michigan computer facilities stimulated this type of analysis, which now has become an invaluable part of research techniques. University sponsored scanning electron microscope, microprobe, and scanning transmission electron microscope facilities became available and received increasing use.

Because most geology and mineralogy students were male, graduate and undergraduate student numbers diminished markedly during World War II. Degree-holding geologists went either into military service, where some held assignments related to geology, or into other defense or resource related governmental work. Only two graduate degrees were awarded in 1943, none in 1944 and two in 1945. Increased numbers of women, however, were attracted to the field and many of these began to receive graduate degrees in 1946 and shortly thereafter. As the return of men from wartime service quickened in 1946, the number of graduate students increased startlingly to over ten times the prewar figures. This no doubt was aided by financial assistance from the "GI Bill," but also was stimulated by the obvious advantage a more sophisticated education afforded in obtaining good employment in a rapidly expanding discipline. For 15 years thereafter, exceptionally large numbers of masters degrees were awarded, but Ph.D.s also showed a substantial increase over pre-war years. In Page  165the 1977 departmental alumni record, 1,252 living "Geolumni" were listed, some holding two or three degrees from the department.

During World War II the depleted ranks of male geology students were at least partially refilled by increased numbers of women. Many of the latter continued on into successful and distinguished careers in the earth sciences. Of the 731 graduate degrees awarded by the department through 1975, 8 percent were received by women. This rose to 9 percent for 1961-75. Women received 12 percent of the 1,624 degrees at all levels through 1975.

Summer Geological Field Training

The department long has appreciated the value of geological field training, particularly for students at the University of Michigan where outcrops of bedrock locally are few, poor, of limited variety, and structurally simple. The department's first summer field camp, established in 1920 at Mill Springs, Kentucky, served both Geology and Geography. It was directed by Ermine Case (1920), C. O. Sauer of Geography (1921-24), and George M. Ehlers (1924-35). The Geology and Geography camps separated in 1936 when Geology moved its camp to State Bridge, Colorado, remaining there through 1938. That camp was directed by Ehlers. In 1939 the program moved to Camp Davis, near Jackson, Wyoming. Camp Davis, established by the Department of Civil Engineering in 1929, was administered by that department. Ehlers directed the geological program there from 1939-43, Armand J. Eardley from 1943-50, and Edwin N. Goddard in 1951. The department conducted a roving field camp in 1952, while it searched for a new field training headquarters. Boulder, Colorado, was selected. E. N. Goddard served as Director there from 1953-64. Students lived in rooming and boarding houses in Boulder. The six-week field course, conducted mainly in the Colorado Front Range and eastern foothills, included a week-long final trip to examine features elsewhere. A four-week, post-camp field research program was conducted mainly in Huerfano Park, Colorado, where graduate student and faculty field research projects were directed toward a thorough regional analysis of the geology and geologic history of the Park. Many seniors received additional Page  166training as field assistants there under the general direction of Professors Goddard and Louis I. Briggs, but with other faculty members and graduate students participating. Because of the drastically reduced numbers of its concentrators, the department operated no camp in 1962, 1963, or 1964. Field studies continued in Huerfano Park, Colorado, however. In 1964 the number of concentrators needing camp increased. Therefore, after 1964, when Civil Engineering discontinued its summer field program in Wyoming, it was arranged with the University to convert Camp Davis to a geological field station, beginning in 1965 and continuing to the present. The field course for geology concentrators was increased from 6 to 8 weeks. Again some graduate students and faculty members did research in that region. A very successful introductory geology course was established at Camp Davis in 1965. Albion College and Western Michigan University also used the facilities at Camp Davis for field courses in geology and biology during certain years of the post-1964 period. When the department again took over, Camp Davis was directed by J. A. Dorr (1965-68, 1970, 1972-74, 1978), C. I. Smith (1969-71, 1975-77), and P. L. Cloke (1979).