Petrology

To this day, I still get a chuckle remembering my daughter Lisa introducing me to her third grade classmate Tory Upham with the statement “This is my dad; he’s an ignorant petrologist.” It fits quite well with my opening remark to new students that “half of what I tell them is false – I just wish I knew which half.”

My PhD advisor, Charlie Sclar, wasn’t quite sure what to do with me when I told him that I aspired to be an undergraduate professor teaching mineralogy and petrology, and that I wanted to chose a dissertation that trained me to be the best teacher I could be in those fields. Charlie had done his PhD at Yale on the Preston Grabbro, and thought it should be reinvestigated. I saw southern CT as way too close to New York City (no offense city folks), and I wanted to be away from the crowd, living in the bush. Charlie conceded that Maine was a reasonable location, but argued convincingly that studying gabbros was excellent preparation since fractionation products were likely to be part of the story. Add to that a metasedimentary country rock with both aluminous and carbonate protoliths, all contact metamorphosed along the margin of the pluton, and the Pocomoonshine gabbro-diorite turned out to be an excellent starting point.

My work through the years has offered me a lot of strange opportunities, but probably none so rare as the day a woman in North Yarmouth, ME called to see if I could look at a rock her son found while checking the rook of the chicken house, leading to the investigation and subsequent naming of the Walnut Hill meteorite. My thumb is no immortally preserved in a Portland Press Herald photo.

Walnut Hill meteorite in DSW's hand

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