Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


NEWCOMB, Sally, 13120 Two Farm Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20904,

Konrad Krauskopf was president of the Geological Society of America in 1967. He had followed in his father's footsteps with an A.B. in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin that included one course in geology, followed by a Ph.D. in photochemistry at U.C. Berkeley in 1934. In search of a job, at Stanford he talked to both the geology and chemistry departments and concluded that geology was more exciting. While he taught an undergraduate physical science course that covered chemistry and geology, he pursued a Ph.D. in geology, his dissertation being a study of the Osoyoos Quadrangle in Washington state. His wife and, eventually, four children, accompanied him in his field work then and later. In his numerous papers and books, he became known for applying tenets of physics and chemistry to Earth.

His Presidential address, A Tale of Ten Plutons, was and is thought-provoking. A quote from Henry James had caught his attention, making him question whether there was an underlying order in nature that could be uncovered as more data was acquired, or whether, on the scale of geology, there was an essential randomness that would remain inaccessible. Krauskopf marshaled his considerable strengths in geochemistry, mineralogy, and petrology to investigate in detail those ten granitic plutons, part of the Sierra Nevada batholith, to see if he could extrapolate back to a sensible theory of origin, using his own field, mapping, and laboratory work, and incorporating the work of ten other geologists. He found that anarchy is to some extenti the law of nature, but geologists could perhaps set limits to it.

Material for this paper came from Krauskopf's own presidential address, and several memoirs by his colleague and later GSA president, Gary Ernst.