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Field Geology Training Remains Rigorous

September 03, 2002

Imagine my surprise to learn that my research specialty has died. In reflecting on the passing of geologist J. David Love (obituary, Aug. 28), it was announced that he "was one of the last great field researchers in a profession that has been largely given over to laboratory geoscientists." According to former Wyoming legislator Tom Stroock: "We are never going to see a field geologist like Dave again. They just don't train them like that. Dave's specialty was out in the field, walking the fault lines, walking the escarpments and touching the rocks."

The heartening reality is that, at least at Caltech, we persist in training them precisely like that in our courses and in recent graduate theses as long on boot leather as any study penned by Love or other geologists of his era. A similar approach is embraced in the geology curricula at USC, UCLA, Stanford and Berkeley. With the exception of a few Ivy League schools that over the last several decades have allowed their field programs to weaken, Love's approach to science is alive and well as the intellectual basis for 21st century teaching and research in the geological and planetary sciences.

Brian Wernicke

Chandler Family Professor

of Geology, Caltech

Pasadena

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