2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


LEVITON, Alan E., California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118-4599 and ALDRICH, Michele L., Cornell Univ, 24 Elm Street, Hatfield, MA 01038, ALEVITON@CALACADEMY.ORG

In May 1853, F. V. Hayden and F. B. Meek left St. Louis for Fort Pierre, Dakota Territories, enroute to the Bad Lands. This excursion, sponsored by James Hall to obtain fossils from the region, exposed Hayden and Meek to geological formations that extended over hundreds of square miles. From this and other experiences before 1861, they charted a course that would redefine the way in which geology was done in the United States. For Hayden, it encouraged him to think regionally, and he acquired a talent for transferring field observations onto maps and stratigraphic sections. Also, his observations up to 1867 led him to posit that the region of the Rocky Mountains was during the Cretaceous occupied by a shallow sea but that toward the end of the period a major upheaval initiated the formation of the present ranges that resulted in the exclusion of marine waters, separation of Atlantic and Pacific drainage systems, formation of several large fresh-water lakes, and the deposition of vast sheets of Late Cretaceous and Tertiary alluvium to the east. In 1867, Hayden was hired to do a survey of the Nebraska Territory, which included parts of Colorado and Wyoming. This was the forerunner of the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, which he would head. Primarily a field naturalist, Hayden acquired a remarkable understanding of stratigraphy, as well as features of erosion and how they were brought about, and he used both images and maps to give a three-dimensional sense of what the regional geology was like. His maps improved considerably after James Gardner joined his Survey as cartographer in 1872, and his Atlas of Colorado, published in 1877, is considered a landmark achievement. Although best known for his work on what was to become Yellowstone National Park, Hayden's greatest legacies were his insights on the Cretaceous and early Tertiary histories of the West, his regional approach to geological investigations, the production of highly accurate topographic and geologic maps, public outreach, the development of a complex organizational structure to support the survey's work, and his ability to convince Congress to fund broad-based scientific endeavors. Hayden's failure in the long run was that he was first and foremost a naturalist, a generalist, and a popularizer of science, at a time when professionalism was beginning to dominate in the sciences.