Paper No. 96-12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM
ANITA HARRIS AND A BLACK CONODONT: A PERSONAL REMEMBRANCE AND TRIBUTE
I knew Anita intimately for the first 22 years of her geologic career, when she developed the talents that we honor today. Majoring in geology at Brooklyn College during the 1950’s, Anita Fishman majored in geology, a male-dominated profession. In 1957 we tripped to her beloved Yellowstone NP, and she married me in 1958, forsaking her MS degree at Indiana University. She studied ostracodes with the USGS in Washington, D.C., interrupted by an exciting 1959 earthquake experience at Hebgen Lake, MT. Following a boring year in Louisiana, PhD’s lured us to Ohio State University. She initiated an ostracodes dissertation in Silurian-Devonian rocks in eastern Pennsylvania where I was mapping for the USGS. In 1963, in splitting a Coeymans Limestone sample, I noted a black conodont on a fresh surface. It was a Devonian Icriodus woschmidti. For several years we pondered why that conodont was black in the thick Pennsylvania section, whereas Ohio conodonts from thinner sections were clear and amber. By heating Ohio conodonts in our apartment oven, which Anita followed by time-temperature experiments in a calibrated laboratory oven, we noted changes from amber, to shades of brown, to black. It was clear that conodonts could be a valuable indicator of a rock’s thermal history. Conodont Alteration Index, CAI, was invented, and she added conodonts to her dissertation. In 1972, I invited Leonard Harris of the USGS Oil and Gas Branch to discuss implications of CAI. Realizing its importance in determining the maturation history of oil and gas, he joined our team and was responsible for emphasizing this aspect in our landmark publication, “Conodont Color Alteration—An Index To Organic Metamorphism” (Epstein, Epstein, and Harris, 1977). CAI isograd maps in the Appalachians were later published (Harris, Harris, and Epstein, 1978). Anita’s name change, due to our 1976 divorce, caused some confusion among foreign geologists. Anita collaborated with many geologists in the western United States while also gaining an international reputation. She was a hard worker, intelligent, resourceful, ambitious, outspoken, and very generous with her support, especially of budding geologists. She fought gender bias in geology for the rest of her life. Sadly, she passed on July 12, 2014, leaving behind fond memories with all who worked with her. She will be missed.