John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, botanist, zoologist, and author. Nicknamed Father of the National Parks and John of the Mountains, Muir was an influential proponent of the preservation of wilderness in the US. He is credited with co-founding the American conservation organization, The Sierra Club. Muir is considered a hero by many environmentalists around the world.
A retired US Navy officer, Robert Ballard is now an oceanography professor, a marine explorer, and an underwater archaeologist, who has discovered countless shipwrecks, including the RMS Titanic and Bismark. He has also discovered hydrothermal vents. His exploration has earned him many honors, such as the Hubbard Medal.
Harrison Schmitt is an American geologist, university professor, and former NASA astronaut. He also served as the US Senator from New Mexico from 1977 to 1983. In 1972, Schmitt became a crew member of Apollo 17 and subsequenly the second-youngest person to walk on the Moon. In 1973, Harrison Schmitt was honored with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
David A. Johnston was an American volcanologist who was caught in the midst of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Johnston was killed during the eruption and his body was never found. David A. Johnston's life and career have inspired several documentaries, docudramas, and films.
Louis Agassiz was a biologist and geologist. He was famous as a scholar of Earth's natural history. Born in Switzerland, he completed his education in Europe and emigrated to USA. He was appointed a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University. He later founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology at the Lawrence Scientific School.
John Wesley Powell was a geologist and explorer of the American West. He undertook a series of adventures as a young man and later joined the military. He is best known for the three-month-long geographic expedition he undertook down the Green and Colorado rivers. He was made the director of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1881.
Best known for discovering the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet, with his wife, Carolyn, and David H. Levy, Eugene Merle Shoemaker was an American astrogeologist who had also worked with the U.S. Geological Survey. He had been part of NASA’s lunar exploration missions. Following his death, his ashes were transported to the Moon.
US oceanographer, geologist, and former US Navy officer and NASA astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan scripted history in 1984 when she became the first woman from the US to walk in space. Apart from being part of 3 Space Shuttle missions, she also worked in various administrative posts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
US physicist and seismologist Charles Francis Richter is best known for co-creating the Richter magnitude scale for measuring the intensity of earthquakes, along with Beno Gutenberg. He taught at Caltech and tracked down earthquake-prone areas of the US. A naturist, he was also fond of nudist communities.
US Navy officer and geologist Harry Hammond Hess is remembered for his pioneering contribution to the unifying theory of plate tectonics. He also worked extensively on the concept of seafloor spreading and was part of the faculty of Princeton University. He served as the Geological Society of America as its president, too.
Born into an aristocratic family in the Russian Empire, George de Mohrenschildt later moved to the US, where he became a prominent petroleum geologist and professor. He is also known to have been a friend of John F. Kennedy’s killer, Lee Harvey Oswald. He also worked as a CIA informant.
The son of Nobel Prize-winning US physicist Luis Walter Alvarez, Walter Alvarez is remembered for his theory that dinosaurs died due to an asteroid impact, a theory he developed with his father. The theory stemmed from their discovery of an iridium-rich layer of clay, since iridium is commonly found in asteroids.
US geologist and oceanographer Marie Tharp is remembered for her pioneering work on oceanographic cartography. She contributed to the development of the first scientific map of the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. She was associated with the Columbia University’s Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory and was one of the first women to work for it.
US geologist, mining engineer, and mountaineer Clarence King was the 1st director of the US Geological Survey. While preparing his report, Systematic Geology, he found the first US glaciers. Mostly known for his exploration of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, he penned the iconic work Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada.
US volcanologist Harry Glicken, a Stanford alumnus, worked for the United States Geological Survey to study Mount St. Helens. After losing his mentor, David A. Johnston, in a volcanic avalanche at St. Helens, he himself lost his life in pyroclastic flow at Japan’s Mount Unzen.
US geophysicist Marcia McNutt scripted history as the first female director of the US Geological Survey. She has also been the president of the National Academy of Sciences. She has also taught marine geophysics at Stanford and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her countless awards include the Maurice Ewing Medal.
Henry Fairfield Osborn was an American geologist, paleontologist, and eugenics advocate. He is best remembered for his association with the American Museum of Natural History where he served as the president for 25 years. Osborn is also remembered for developing his own evolutionary theory which he called the Dawn Man Theory.
Henry Schoolcraft was an American geologist, geographer, and ethnologist. He is best remembered for his studies of Native American cultures. Henry Schoolcraft is also credited with founding The Journal of Education, America's first journal on public education.
US geophysicist and geologist M. King Hubbert is remembered for developing what is now known as the Hubbert peak theory. Associated with Houston’s Shell research lab, he mostly conducted studies on the migration of petroleum. He was also associated with the faculty of Stanford and Johns Hopkins.
William Morris Davis was an American geologist, geographer, meteorologist, and geomorphologist. Often referred to as the father of American geography, Davis is credited with founding the Association of American Geographers. He is also remembered for his association with the Geological Society of America, where he served as the president. In 1919, he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal.
US geophysicist and physical oceanographer Walter Munk is remembered for his path-breaking research on ocean currents and wave propagation. He had been part of the faculty of geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was also a member of the elite panel of scientists, JASON.
Leading US climate expert and Stanford biology professor Stephen Henry Schneider is remembered for his research on climate change and atmosphere. He also founded the journal Climatic Change. He was part of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
The first female geologist from the US, Florence Bascom had both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin and was the second American woman to get a PhD in geology. She was also the first female assistant geologist at the US Geological Survey.
Copley Medal-winning US geologist and mineralogist James Dwight Dana is remembered for his path-breaking studies on topics such as mountain building, marine life, coral reefs, volcanic activity, and continents. A System of Mineralogy and Manual of Mineralogy are 2 of his iconic works, the latter of which became a standard text.
US geologist Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden is remembered for his ground-breaking research on the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. He also served as a Union Army surgeon during the American Civil War and taught geology at the University of Pennsylvania. He also played a major role in the formation of the Yellowstone National Park.
US geophysicist Maurice Ewing conducted path-breaking research on ocean basins and sediments, using seismic methods. Apart from teaching geology at Columbia University, he also served as the director of the Lamont Geological Observatory. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he also received the National Medal of Science, among other awards.
US physician and geologist Joseph LeConte was associated with the University of California, Berkeley as a professor. A noted conservationist of the California region, too, he is remembered for his studies on the mountain ranges of the West, most prominently in and around Yosemite National Park.
US geologist Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin proposed the theory of planetesimal hypothesis. Initially the chief geologist of the Wisconsin Geological Survey, he later joined the US Geological Survey. An educator, too, he was associated with the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was also the founder-editor of The Journal of Geology.
Charles Steen was one of Utah’s most prominent geologists and discovered the US’s largest deposit of high-grade uranium ore, worth $60 million after being fired from his geologist’s job in Indiana. His discovery led to a new mining era in the 1950s. His final years were spent in bankruptcy, after many failed business investments.
Grove Karl Gilbert was an American geologist. Over the course of his career, Gilbert helped understand landscape evolution, river incision, erosion, and sedimentation and is thus regarded as one of the most important figures of geomorphology. One of the most influential geologists of his time, Grove Karl Gilbert was honored with the Wollaston Medal and Charles P. Daly Medal.
Robert S. Dietz was an American scientist, marine geologist, oceanographer, and geophysicist. He is best remembered for conducting pioneering research concerning seafloor spreading along with Harry Hammond Hess. Robert S. Dietz was also interested in meteorite impacts and is credited with discovering numerous impact craters, including the Sudbury Basin.
American explorer, anthropologist, and archaeologist William Henry Holmes was a pioneer of professional archaeology in the US. He was also a geologist and a scientific illustrator. He had been a curator at the Smithsonian Institution and had been the director of the National Gallery of Art.
Arthur Casagrande was an American civil engineer best remembered for making significant contributions to the fields of geotechnical engineering and engineering geology during its infancy. Casagrande is also credited with influencing teaching programs at prestigious institutions like Harvard University during the 1930s. Several awards, such as the Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award, have been named in his honor.
Charles Thomas Jackson was an American scientist and physician. He was active in the fields of chemistry, medicine, geology, and mineralogy. Charles Thomas Jackson is best remembered for getting himself involved in numerous priority conflicts with other scientist and inventors. Among them were disputes over the discovery of the telegraph, guncotton, and the anesthetic effects of ether.
US Army officer, geologist, and seismologist Clarence Dutton is best known for developing the concept of isostasy. He is also remembered for his vivid descriptions of the geology of Grand Canyon. He was a co-founder of the Cosmos Club and was part of the National Academy of Sciences.
US geologist, ethnologist, and anthropologist William John McGee was associated with the US Geological Survey and the Bureau of American Ethnology. He was also a co-founder of the Geological Society of America and served the National Geographic Society as its president. California’s Mount McGee was named in his honor.
South African-American geophysicist, oceanographer, and meteorologist invented the bathythermograph to measure temperatures and depths of the sea. He also proposed the founding of the Sea Grant Colleges. Associated with the University of Minnesota, he planned the futuristic Minnesota Experimental City, though it never materialized.
Bruce C. Heezen was an American geologist best remembered for his work at Columbia University, where he joined forces with oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp to map the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. In 1964, he was honored by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with the Henry Bryant Bigelow Medal in Oceanography. In 1973, Bruce C. Heezen was awarded the prestigious Cullum Geographical Medal.
Best known for his contribution to the geosynclinal theory of mountain building, paleontologist and geologist James Hall had also taught at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and worked at the Geological Survey of New York. The National Academy of Sciences member had also penned works such as The Paleontology of New York.
US ethnologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson was a pioneering female figure in the scientific world. She was also the first woman to work for the Bureau of American Ethnology. She was known for her research on the indigenous Zuni community. She also helped establish the Women's Anthropological Society in Washington DC.
David S. McKay was an astrobiologist who provided geology training to the first men to walk on the moon during the Apollo program in the 1960s. He worked as chief scientist for astrobiology at the Johnson Space Center. He extensively studied lunar dust and wrote over 200 papers on the topic. The asteroid 6111 Davemckay is named in his honor.
US geologist and explorer Raphael Pumpelly made a revolutionary discovery of copper and iron ore deposits in the Lake Superior region. He had also studied coal mines in China and served as Harvard University’s first professor of mining. He is also known for his works on the geology of the Green Mountains.
US geologist and polar explorer Laurence McKinley Gould had been to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. He was associated with Carleton College, first as a professor, then as a geology chairperson, and finally as its president. He also taught at the University of Arizona for over a decade.
Nathaniel Shaler was an American geologist and paleontologist. He is best remembered for his writings on the scientific and theological implications of the theory of evolution. Shaler is also remembered for his association with Harvard University where he served as Dean of Sciences. He was also regarded as one of the most popular teachers in the university.
Born to German immigrants in New York, Amadeus William Grabau had initially apprenticed as a bookbinder and later studied geology at MIT and Harvard. His research on stratigraphy and paleoecology in China earned him the title of the father of Chinese geology. He has also worked for the Japanese Army.
Joseph Barrell was an American geologist best remembered for his theories on the origins of the Earth and sedimentary rocks. He is also remembered for his work with the US Geological Survey. Joseph Barrell also worked as an educator; he received an invitation from Yale University in 1903 to come up with a course in structural geology.
US geologist and geochemist Meyer Rubin was associated with the US Geological Survey and made major contributions to fields such as radiocarbon dating, climate science, and mass spectrometry. He also predicted the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. He spent his later years participating in kayaking contests and died of COVID-19 in 2020.
Waldemar Lindgren was a Swedish-American geologist best remembered for co-founding the modern economic geology. He was associated with the U.S. Geological Survey for 31 years, during which he worked on ore deposits in the Rockies. Waldemar Lindgren also served as the president of the Society of Economic Geologists as well as the Geological Society of America.
US geologist Curtis F. Marbut had been the director of the US Department of Agriculture’s Soil Survey Division. He is remembered for his contribution to the development of an international soil classification system. He also taught at the University of Missouri and translated an iconic Russian work on soil and their development.