May 1, 1998
by Dr. John Crowell,
Professor of Geology,
University of California, Santa Barbara

Thank you President Spaulding, and our admired friend Tom Dibblee, and many other good friends.

Today, this May Day, we honor Professor Clarence A. Hall, Hr., for his outstanding contributions to geology through geological mapping and the interpretation of his maps. These include more than a dozen quadrangle-sized maps, or sheets much larger, of critical regions in the west central Coast Ranges and the White-Inyo Mountains of California, and along the North Pyrenean fault in southern France. Not only is he a master in the difficult science and art of geological mapping, his publications demonstrate that he is always pondering the regional significance of his work as he weaves through the brush. Clarence is a veritable geological survey in his own right, and has actually seen to publishing more geologic maps in the California Coast Ranges of westernmost San Luis Obispo County than either the USGS or the California Division of Mines and Geology. Only Tom Dibblee himself has mapped more.

In addition, he has educated many students in his art and many of these summer-field students appear as joint authors on a few of his geologic maps. He stands very tall among professors who see the need to take undergraduates to the field where they can make their own observations of crustal complexity. This is an essential background before they envision the crust using only computer images.

We should ask: What have been his contributions to understanding crustal tectonics in addition to placing the patterns of rock and structure distributions on maps? To answer this question, let's review his career. Stanfordians in the audience can be proud of him. He obtained his BS in 1952, his MS in 1953, and his Ph.D. in 1956 -- all from Stanford. His Ph.D. dissertation concerned the geology--including a map -- of the Pleasanton area, southeast of San Francisco, as well as the paleontology. He joined the faculty at UCLA in 1956 and has been there ever since, now for 42 years, ascending through the ranks to be a top-level professor,even though for a time he descended to the level of Dean, Division of Physical Sciences. The UCLA Bruins among us can also be proud of his achievements.

I recall vividly a conversation in his upper-floor corner office cluttered with fossil, Astrodapsis , carcasses. His background and interest in paleontology have always stood him well. He is a field geologist who can pick up a macrofossil, identify it on the spot, and so nail down his stratigraphic position. In the late 50s many of us mwere intrigued with the possibility of large strike-slip on some of California's major faults. Clarence lined up faunal belts that were probably offset by displacement on the San Andreas fault, and his 1960 paper on displaced Miocene molluscan provinces resulted. It is one of the HALLmark papers dealing with the San Andreas

-- Hall is marked as the author.

As the result of his geological mapping along the Santa Maria - San Luis Obispo coast, Clarence recognized that Miocene and older stratal sections were so similar that they were probably contiguous originally, and then offset 80 or more km on the San Simeon-Hosgri fault system.

 As his mapping continued in the complex region inland from the Sur-Nacimiento coast - a region exceptionally brushy and steep, where access is most difficult, and where thick colluvium, slides, and deep weathering obscure much of the bedrock - he unscrambled episodes of tectonic overprinting. Mesozoic and Paleogene rocks and structure were overprinted by San Andreas transform-type large displacements, lateral as well as vertical. He has shown that much of pre-Miocene coastal California is allochthonous, and he has joined the Sur-Naciemiento fault system of central California to allochthonous terranes of southern California, in part connecting it with the Vincent and other fault system further southeast. These regions constitute the Southern California Allochthon. This contribution - another HALLmark paper - would not have been possible without much careful mapping and synthesis of complex country all the way from the Monterey Bay region into the Transverse Ranges. I emphasize, and I am sure that Clarence would agree: careful geologic mapping is absolutely essential and basic to understanding the geologic history of the crust.

He has contributed other significant maps, but I will not dwell on these now, such as those of the White-Inyo region of eastern California, areas along the western margin of the San Joaquin Valley, and has made sense through mapping of the nature of the North Pyreneean fault of southern France.

Mr. President, Clarence is most deserving of the Dibblee Medal. May I present him to you.

John C. Crowell

DIBBLEE MEDAL RESPONSE BY CLARENCE HALL, Professor and Dean Emeritus, University of California, Los  Angeles

Thank you John (Crowell) for your kind words and for your comments regarding curricular choices and field geology. I too have something to say about field geology and the making of geologic maps, but before doing that I would like to thank some folks who contributed to my receiving the Dibblee Medal. First, I would like to thank the Dibblee Foundation for selecting me as the 1998 recipient of the Dibblee Medal. The Medal is a singular, gratifying, and most wonderful honor, which is made the more meaningful because I know Tom Dibblee, a great geologist and gentleman, and I know that no one will ever come close to duplicating his achievement in geologic mapping. At different times in our careers Tom and I have walked over hundreds of square miles of the same terrane/terrain, as have many others. We have simply accepted the parching heat and sun, the crashing of manzanita and the shredding of clothes, the rolling decent through a forest of poison oak, the frustration of field vehicles breaking down far from service, and the occasional recalcitrant land owner, or his dogs, as a part of our lives-- we are field geologists and proud of it. Tom, many of you here today, and I have spent years and long hours alone in the field, rarely with a field assistant, making observations of geology and nature that were at times perplexing but always exciting and rewarding. We better understand Tom's accomplishments, and our fraternity better appreciate one another and the importance of the geologic map.

There have been several individuals who have strongly influenced me and my deep interest in making and interpreting geologic maps. chronologically, I begin with my summer field instructor at Stanford, Bob Compton. Bob's love for geology and the making of geologic maps under extreme physical conditions, and the joy he received from helping his students to appreciate what it was that he was seeing and deciphering were inspirational. Bob had a profound affect on the direction I would choose for a career. Bob Compton also had a profound effect on my doing graduate work at Stanford.

After graduating with a Master's Degree I worked a summer with Francis Garret Wells and Ewart Baldwin for the USGS mapping in southwestern and western Oregon. After graduating with my Ph.D. I worked summers for Humble Oil, now Exxon, mapping west of Coalinga and Avenal, and northwestern Washington: and I mapped the Arctic slope east of Umiat with Bill Hughes for Texaco. In the fall of 1956, following the completion of my Ph.D., I began my career as a professor at UCLA. At UCLA, I was greatly influenced by two individuals. One was E.L. (Jerry) Winterer, now at Scripps and UCSD, who introduced me to the Tick Canyon-Vasquez Rocks area, probably the finest one-square mile of geology that I know of in North America for teaching students how to map and interpret their mapping. Jerry also introduced me to the UCLA style of detailed geologic mapping, and he strengthened my conviction in the importance of being problem oriented when making a geologic map.

The other Uclan who had a profound influence on my career, and in turn many of the geologic maps that I have completed, was Professor Emeritus and National Academician John Crowell. In another era, when John Crowell was the Chairman at UCLA, and when chairmen and mangers exercised more authority, John called me into his office and said: "Clarence you are going to teach the UCLA summer field course. You will go with Jerry Winterer, the professor in charge, and this year's summer class to Nevada in order to learn how UCLA runs a summer field camp". I went with Jerry to Nevada and mapped a single  formation, the Ordovician Vinini Formation, with a group of students for six weeks. The next year, when I was in charge of the UCLA summer camp, I showed UCLA how Stanford ran a summer field class, much to the consternation of the old guard at UCLA that had been mapping in Nevada for an eon, and that it could be pedagogically more productive to have students map more than one formation for six weeks. I moved the UCLA field class to the southern Coast Ranges of California. For the next several years UCLA students, Gary Ernst, the only person I have ever known who really enjoyed mapping blebs and blobs in the Franciscan Complex, and who did so for more than 30 years, and I mapped in western San Luis Obispo County. Those were halcyon years, made the more enjoyable by UCLA's tremendous undergraduates and Gary's friendship, wit, warm personality, and enthusiasm. Following our teaching the UCLA summer field class in San Luis Obispo area, I continued mapping in western San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, Fresno, Kings and Kern counties, the Pyrenees of southern France; and Gary and I moved the summer field class and our geologic mapping to the White Mountains of eastern California.

>From "thanks" I turn to the obligatory remarks of an ancient one upon whom an honor is being bestowed. Such remarks are meant to include something sage because the honoree has gained wisdom through the teacher of experience but they are words that are commonly dismissed by a younger generation, as expressed through a thought or remark such as "what else would you expect, he's living in another world and time." Thus, these remarks are only obligatory remarks for me, and not you, because they are heart felt and I care about my profession and what it has to offer.

There seem to be fewer of us who care about geologic mapping these days. Regional and district offices of petroleum companies have closed and more geology is being done in the office, done by remote techniques, and done by electronic means and machines. UCLA now offers two bachelor's degrees in geology, one that requires summer field geology and associated geologic mapping, and another bachelor's degree that does not. Some colleges and universities have reduced the number of required field courses for the degree, or they do not have a summer field course--missing a time to focus a student's mind on a single subject, denying the joy of discovery, and not providing a time to serve an apprenticeship as a professional geologist or fully develop a senior thesis. The field is where geologic problems lie waiting to be found, rethought, or restudied. A geologic map is the essential foundation for studying geologic problems. Yet the useful scientific lifetime of a geologic map is rarely more than 25 to 50 years because new paradigms or new information and thought alter the interpretation of geologic features or cause new elements of the geology to be recognized for the first time, as examples, transform and detachment faults. With the diminution of field geologic mapping in universities and colleges there is a lessening of the opportunities for individual discovery and the translation of those discoveries into the form of a written geologic report. Thus, there is less time to sharpen ones ability to observe, depict, and interpret. With the diminution of quadrangle geologic mapping by the United Geological Survey, there is less opportunity to cheaply better understand the greater United States and its territories, the Earth, its resources, and potential geologic hazards. It doesn't take $250,000,000 to take a picture of a rock on Earth, and a geologist will someday be preferable to a machine when humans occupy distant planets and travel to distant galaxies, as they surely will. Remove geologic maps and the making of geologic maps from geology and you remove the essence of geology. Paraphrasing the words of Miguel de Cervantes's character Don Quixote: "Journey over all of the Earth in a [geologic] map, without the expense andfatigue of traveling, without suffering the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger, and thirst"; journey back through time; and journey into the interior of the Earth.

I deeply thank you for the honor of the Dibblee Medal, and I raise my glass in toast to all of those who understand its significance.

Prepared by Dorothy L. Stout
Publicist for the Dibblee Geological Foundation

Back to News


About the Foundation | About Tom Dibblee | Our Maps | Order Information
| Latest News | Contact Us | Links | Home

Web Site Created by Generation Graphics