Russell Gordon Gastil, Professor Emeritus in Geology at San Diego State University is the 2002 recipient of the 2002 Thomas Dibblee Medal

Russell “Gordon” Gastil, Professor Emeritus in Geology at San Diego State University is a California field geologist that truly typifies what Tom Dibble is all about

He has mapped and supervised the mapping of tens of thousands of square miles in Arizona, California, and Mexico including the entire state of Baja California.  He instilled the art of practical field mapping in hundreds of geologists for more than 4 decades. Gordon has multiplied his work by inspiring and training generations of geologists to get out in the field to the foundation of geology. It would take many pages to list the field accomplishments of Gordon Gastil.

In the late 50’s and early 60's when jobs in geology were scarce to nonexistent he secured NSF grants and other funds for students to create practical jobs in field mapping in the northern Mojave Desert and Arizona.

In 1963 he secured a NSF Grant and hired 10 students [two from UABC in Mexico] to begin to produce a reconnaissance geologic map of the State of Baja California, Mexico.  He often said that it was to find out where the granitic rocks were located.  Actually, during that first year we had no real thought that we would eventually map the entire state and only ordered part of the first set of available air photos.  The rest were ordered a month later and the quest was on.  That summer Lee Silver of Cal Tech commented that Gordon was mapping in their area. Gordon was heard to reply, "Oh! We’re just mapping through". And map he did until ten years later the reconnaissance geologic map and GSA Memoir 140 on Baja California were finished. Along the way he mapped a large section of Sonora and the Tepic area on the mainland edge of the mouth of the Gulf of California.  All of this work was with grant money.

What is remarkable about this mapping feat is that much of it was accomplished with students and that, through his efforts, generations of students [including myself and my students] were trained in the art of field geology.  These field geologists have produced many hundreds of publications, senior theses, Masters Theses, Doctoral Dissertations and geologic quadrangles in Baja California, elsewhere in Mexico and in the United States.

The time and place of the awarding of the medal will be announced in the next PPG.

John Minch, Citationist


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