Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM
HISTORY OF GEOLOGY STUDENT AWARD: GILBERT O. RAASCH: THE UNPUBLISHED POTENTIAL OF ONE OF WISCONSIN'S GREAT BIOSTRATIGRAPHERS
Gilbert O. Raasch (1903-1999) is responsible for one of the largest collections of fossils and geologic data dealing with Wisconsin’s Paleozoic past. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Raasch spent his early years becoming a self-taught geologist, compiling stratigraphic and paleontological information key to understanding the geologic history of the state. He received his Masters and PhD from the University of Wisconsin Madison, while also working for the Milwaukee Public Museum. His fossil collection now constitutes a quarter of the museum’s paleontological holdings. He was appointed the curator of the geology museum at the University of Wisconsin Madison, completely revamping and elevating it to one of the preeminent museums in the Midwest. Although widely recognized as a major contributor to the study of Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian strata of the region, due to forces outside of his control, he was not able to land his desired position in the state. For this reason, the full potential of his efforts was never reached. Large portions of Raasch’s collection and works have not been accessible to geologists. To rectify this, I have begun uploading Raasch’s field notebooks, an index to his maps, and his fossil inventory to an online database called KE EMU. He rendered his notes with great attention to stratigraphic detail. Digitization of this material along with his extensive maps that correlate this data to specific locales will facilitate field work and augmentation of Wisconsin geology as previously published by others. Photos of fossils, maps, and diagrams of stratigraphic sections, will also be uploaded and will enable geologists to clarify Paleozoic fossil distribution and community development as well as stratigraphic correlations from their personal computers. This access is vital because many of the sites studied by Raasch are now located on developed land. Some of his most detailed work was conducted around Black River Falls. This location is important due to the proximal contact of Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks, the latter of which are some of the oldest in the state. Raasch’s works can now become a great resource that can easily be accessed.