Ted G. Theodore was born in Los Angeles, California, in the mid 1930s. His father emigrated from southern Greece to the United States in 1907, and his mother also came from Greece in 1935 after spending her early years in Romania. Though Ted’s early years were spent in the greater Los Angeles urban area, he spent many days as a teenager traversing trails through the Hollywood Hills—veins of coarsely crystalline blue calcite intrigued him immensely. Annual family vacations were invariably devoted to camping in the Sierras. It was in the Sierras where he became enthralled by the variety of all those “gray rocks containing sparkly black minerals.” In the mid 1950s, Ted graduated from Loyola High School with an Honorary Classical Diploma.
Upon his enrollment in college, Ted initially intended to become an electrical engineer, but the call of an open air-type career was too strong and he switched to geology after his first year in college. Moreover, It was in his beginning Physical Geology class at Los Angeles City College that he met his future wife Dolores Fuentes.
In 1967, Ted graduated with a Ph.D. in Geology from UCLA, where his association with William W. Rubey sparked an interest in seeking employment with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Ted early in 1967 then joined a newly established Heavy Metals Program in the USGS. The Program was an attempt by the Government to stimulate domestic production of gold in the United States, and included a number of federally funded deep drilling projects. One of those drilling projects was at Iron Canyon on the fringes of the Copper Canyon area in the Battle Mountain mining district. Though the deep drilling of two core holes at Iron Canyon did not reach carbonate strata below the Roberts Mountains thrust as hoped, this work did lead to a protracted series of USGS-industry collaborative studies of a number of copper, gold, and silver pluton-related deposits at Copper Canyon. The investigations coincided with early production from large porphyry copper-related ore deposits that had been shown to be economic in the district in the early 1960s.
In all, this early work at Copper Canyon marked the beginning of a long association with the geology and mineral deposits of the Battle Mountain district and Nevada. Ted’s work on the Copper Canyon and Copper Basin porphyry systems and their associated mineral deposits led to many publications on the mineral deposits of this prolific area, including the Copper Canyon porphyry (Cu) deposits, the Tomboy-Minnie (Au) deposits, the Buckingham (Mo) deposit, the Fortitude (Cu-Au) skarn deposit, the Marigold (Au) deposit, the Elder Creek porphyry (Cu) system, and other Cu, W, and Au skarn occurrences associated with both the Mesozoic and Tertiary intrusive centers in the district. Research topics included regional- and deposit-scale mapping, mineralogical and alteration studies, fluid characterization studies, isotopic studies, regional structure and tectonics, age dating, and mineral assessments.
The studies in the Battle Mountain mining district were followed by regional geologic mapping and resource assessments in central and south-central Arizona in the 1970s. Although geologic mapping was conducted at mile-to-the-inch or larger scales (Mineral Mountain and Arivaca quads), the assessments typically were at 1:250,000 scale and involved 2–degree sheets. The investigations in Arizona also included completion of an in-depth study of the Gold Basin and Lost Basin mining districts in the northwestern part of the State, as well as some geologic mapping and mineral resource studies in the Tohono O'odham Nation near the Mexican border. In addition, a short period of time was spent in Mexico studying what was to become a large porphyry center in Sonora at La Florida. Ted also served for 15 years as the USGS’s molybdenum commodity specialist during which time he traveled widely visiting many molybdenum deposits throughout North America.
In the middle 1980s, he began a protracted widespread investigation of mineralized occurrences in north-central Nevada, concentrating on the Winnemucca 2–degree sheet. In the early 1990s, using partial field support provided by a cooperative agreement with the mining industry, he collaborated with others in the USGS in a remapping of the entire Battle Mountain district at a scale of 1:24,000. This led to completion of the mapping of several 7.5’ quadrangles in Nevada, including the Valmy, North Peak, and Snow Gulch quadrangles in the district.
In 1993, Ted was awarded the Department of Interior’s Meritorious Service Award.
In 1994, as part of the USGS’s then Western Region Gold Project, he continued geologic mapping of mining districts in Nevada through stratigraphic and structural field investigations in the northern part of the Carlin trend, specifically in the Santa Renia Fields and Beaver Peak quadrangles. Geologic mapping in the Carlin trend resulted in discovery of widespread late Paleozoic shortening that had not been recognized previously.
Ted also participated in a number of regional mineral endowment studies of large areas in the western USA, including the Humboldt River Drainage Basin, Winnemucca District, and Surprise Resource Area in Nevada, as well as the East Mojave National Scenic Area in southeast California. The latter was to subsequently become the Mojave National Preserve.
Ted became an emeritus geologist with the USGS in January 2003, after a cumulative Federal service of over 37 years. He was then awarded a Bradley Fellowship by the USGS to continue on with a few projects, but these were put on hold for a variety of reasons. Regardless, over the course of his career with the USGS, he authored or coauthored about 240 publications.
After 43 years of marriage, Ted’s wife Dolores passed away peacefully in May 2004 with their two children and extended family at her bedside. About two weeks after her passing, Ted began assembling her biography “Dolores—Her Life, Our Life”, which was published in 2007 and intended for their grandchildren to know their grandmother’s life. This book was then followed by another book
“Farewell…Don’t Forget Me” published in 2011, in which Ted chronicles the intertwining of the three southern European families that make up Ted’s paternal and maternal lines of descent.
While all of this was taking place, Ted could not resist the persistent cry of mineralized rocks that they are always trying to tell us something about their genesis. So, he began working as an economic geology consultant in 2006 irrespective of the declining capabilities of his knees. This work focused mostly in the Siberian part of Russia ranging from investigations in the Tyva Republic at the Tardan gold skarn and Kara Beldyr gold-mineralized system and a number of other porphyry systems. The work extended over the course of several years into the Magadan Oblast in the Russian Far East. In the latter region, a number of gold occurrences were examined, including Pavlik, Srednekan, Dubach, Tokhto, Goltzov, and Ryzhyk. Of course, one of these trips resulted in Ted’s group being stopped five times by uniformed militia during a two-week period, which prompted Ted to note that he had been stopped only once in 72 years in the United States. His work in Russia also exposed him to a number of Russian adages, including “Eat because you never know when you are going to eat again!”
Through his geology consultancy he studied and reported upon many mineral occurrences in Mongolia, including the Boroo and Gatsuurt orogenic gold deposits, as well as intermediate sulfidation gold and base metal-mineralized pipes in the Gobi Desert at Altan Tsagaan Ovoo and structurally-controlled gold mineralization nearby at Mungu. It was at field camps serving the latter two occurrences where Ted did not appreciate always being the first served in the mess hall yurt (round tent). Afterwards, it was explained to him that Mongolians always serve the oldest first. He certainly was the oldest by far in all these settings!
Interspersed with these travels to the Far East came a short visit to Afghanistan in 2009 where a number of mineral occurrences, including the Hajigak monstrous magnetite deposit at 12,000 ft elevation, were looked at for the Defense Department in the hope that someday they might contribute to an economic underpinning so sorely needed in the country. The country is marked by a seemingly endless plethora of knife-edge, highly elevated ridgelines that surely have only been visited by geologists in helicopters. Perhaps one the highpoints of this Afghanistan work was recognition of beautiful blebs of gold in a diopside skarn. However, one needs a platoon of Marines as field assistants to do any fieldwork there. But this contract work for the Defense Department also resulted in Ted having to resign early on his Emeritus position at the USGS and give up his Bradley Fellowship because of a potential conflict of interest, though both Departments, Defense and Interior, are part of the same Government. Don’t ask!
A number of projects in China also were examined in the northwest part of the country near Kazakhstan, as well as projects in the southwest part of the country near Vietnam where Mandarin is rarely spoken. Baby eels for breakfast? Not for Ted!
Ted was elected an Honorary Member of the Geological Society of Nevada in 2010, an award that he appreciates greatly and is quite thankful for.
Recently, Ted has been involved with projects in Mexico and Central America. The last year or so also has seen Ted returning more or less much closer to his professional roots in Nevada, as he has been involved with a number of gold projects, including gold skarns in Alaska and high- and low-sulfidation precious metal deposits throughout the Great Basin.
Though Ted authored or coauthored many publications during the course of his “public” USGS career, those seemingly now pale considerably with the number of company reports he has been involved with during the past 10 years. All of the latter were prepared in response to short time frames required by largely market-driven decision-making processes. In addition, Ted continues to be amazed at how promptly the basic parameters of a project’s economic possibilities can be diagnosed through simultaneous in-depth GIS application of relevant geologic, geophysical, and geochemical data, especially when these are combined with critical petrographic observations. Of course, all of this rapidity has been greatly enhanced in recent years by worldwide information available through the Internet.
Ted has been indeed fortunate over the years to collaborate across the globe with a number of outstanding geoscientists who unreservedly shared their talents in bringing to fruition all the reports Ted so thankfully was able to participate in.
Hal Bonham Jr.*
Peter F. Galli
Robert C. Horton*
William P. Johnston*
Victor E. Kral*
David "Burt" Slemmons
T. Lyle Taylor*
Ted G. Theodore