Garrels, Robert M. (Robert Minard), 1916-1988

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1916-08-24
Death 1988-03-08
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Robert Minard Garrels was born in Detroit, Michigan, on August 24, 1916. He received his B.S. from the University of Michigan in 1937 and his M. S. (1939) and Ph.D. (1941) from Northwestern, all in geology.

Garrels joined the Northwestern University faculty as an instructor in geology in 1941. In 1944 he was promoted to assistant professor of geology and geography. This title was changed in 1946 to assistant professor of geology. Garrels was promoted to associate professor of geology in 1949.

From 1952 to 1955 Garrels was chief of the solid state group, geochemistry and petrology branch, U.S. Geological Survey. In the latter year he joined the faculty of Harvard University as associate professor of geology. Promoted to professor in 1957, Garrels served as chairman of the department of geological sciences from 1963 to 1965.

Garrels returned to Northwestern as professor of geology in 1965, remaining there until 1969. That year he moved to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography as professor of geology. In 1972 he was appointed Captain James Cook Professor of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii. Garrels returned to Northwestern in 1974 as professor of geological sciences and retired in 1980. He then became professor of geology at the University of South Florida where he stayed until his death.

Garrels' research interests included the solubility of minerals, oxidation potential, chemical reactions in the oceans, streams, and springs, and the geology, history, and composition of the oceans, especially in relation to various clays.

In 1962 Garrels served as President of the Geochemical Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1964. The Geological Society of America presented its highest award, the Penrose Medal, to Garrels in 1978. He also received the Society's Day Medal in 1966, the Geochemical Society's Goldschmidt Award in 1973, the Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America in 1981, and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London that same year.

Among Garrels' books are: A Textbook of Geology (1951); (with C.L. Christ), Solutions, Minerals, and Equilibria (1965); (with F. j. Mackenzie), Evolution of Sedimentary Rocks (1971); (with Cynthia Hunt), Water, the Web of Life (1972); and (with Mackenzie and Hunt), Chemical Cycles and Global Environment, (1975).

Garrels married Jane M. Tinen in 1940, and the couple had three children: Joan (1941), James (1945), and Catherine (1951). The Garrels were divorced in 1969. In 1970 he married Cynthia A. Hunt. Garrels died in St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 8, 1988.

From the guide to the Robert M. Garrels (1916-1988) Papers, 1938-1992, (Northwestern University Archives)

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  • Geology--Study and teaching

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