Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
Being the State Geologist of Nevada has to be the best job I could have imagined for myself. My first adventure in Nevada was during a 1970 summer field camp tour through western states, when we camped near one of the passes along U.S. Highway 50 and admired the great geological exposures that the desert affords. Intrigued by the brachiopods, crinoids, and quartz crystals that I found on our farm in central Pennsylvania, I knew at about age 5 that I wanted to be a geologist. My parents were quite supportive and sent me to Lehigh University to pursue a degree in geology. Lehigh required a three year proficiency in a foreign language for geology majors, so with four years of German in high school, I wound up taking third year college German as a freshman, spent a summer studying German in Austria, and graduated with a double major – Geology and German. That made it easy to earn a fellowship to study for a year at the University of Heidelberg before going to graduate school at Berkeley. The professors at Heidelberg stimulated my interest in ore deposits, and I chose to work on the Yerington, Nevada porphyry copper deposit as my dissertation project at Berkeley. One summer mapping in the pit and one summer logging core for Anaconda gave me enough material to complete my Ph.D. in a little less than four years.
U.S. Steel hired me for the summer of 1977 to create a 3D picture of one of the iron-copper deposits at Pumpkin Hollow in the Yerington district. After nine months teaching at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania (including an economic geology class that visited classic mines at Sterling Hill, Friedensville, Sudbury, and Elliot Lake), I rejoined U.S. Steel and worked in uranium exploration and in-situ mining in South Texas. That experience led to a great job as a research geologist with the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology in Austin. My standard answer to the lunchtime question (where would you move if you could be anywhere else but Texas?) was Carson City, and when Beth, my spouse since 1972, asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I actually said being the Nevada State Geologist would be a fun job.
One of the attractions for me to take the job in 1988 was GSN, with hundreds of geologists attending monthly meetings, organizing field trips and symposia, and supporting geologic mapping and other efforts of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG). Serving with Kelly Cluer and Christy Morris as Technical Program Co-Chairs for the GSN 2000 Symposium and with Eric Ruud as Co-Chair of the GSN 2005 Symposium was thoroughly enjoyable. GSN‘s activities mesh so well with NBMG‘s mission that I was delighted to be able to offer GSN space in our new building, the Great Basin Science Sample and Records Library, when it opened in 2009.
I spent two years on loan from the University of Nevada, Reno to the National Research Council in Washington, D.C., heading their Board on Earth Sciences and Resources. This gave me special insight into the workings of various agencies of the federal government, which manages 87% of the land in Nevada. After returning to Reno in 1995, I continued to be involved in various scientific and policy activities, including service on advisory committees to the U.S. Geological Survey and National Science Foundation and in the leadership of professional organizations (AIPG, AASG, SEG, NPS, WSSPC, GSA, SME). Meanwhile, building NBMG to be one of the top geological surveys, by hiring great scientists and support staff, has been rewarding for Nevada.
John Winton Erwin*
Erin L. Hart
Greg T. Hill
Joseph Kizis, Jr
Brooke J Miller
Justin and Ajeet Milliard
Mia (Cowgill) O'Neal
Shea Clark Smith
Roger C Steininger