Foraminifera were of little interest in North America until 1923, when Joseph Cushman demonstrated how these microfossils could be used for subsurface geologic correlation. Word spread quickly throughout the oil industry and their sudden demand for foram workers prompted academia to provide the necessary training. For the next 60 years, industrial exploration and development played a major role in maintaining a large presence of foraminiferologists in California. Although the major oil companies employed most of them, a few found careers in the major universities or with the US Geological Survey. In the 1980s, the Californian oil industry became less reliant on biostratigraphy and the numbers of micropaleontologists rapidly declined. The heyday of foraminiferal micropaleontology had passed and by the time offshore exploration was abandoned in the early 1990s, few foraminiferologists remained in the state. Today only a handful of seasoned foraminiferologists can be found working in California.
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This TMS Special Publication comprises a collection of 23 papers with an international authorship reflecting on landmarks in the history and development of Foraminiferal micropalaeontology. The volume is prefaced by an introductory overview that provides a brief and selected historical setting, as well as the intended aims of the book. Selected developments in Foraminiferal studies from a global perspective are presented from the time of Alcide d’Orbignyand the founding of the Paris MNHN collections in the mid-nineteenth century to the use of foraminifera in industry, other museum collections, palaeoceanography and environmental studies, regional studies from the Southern Hemisphere and the riseand fall of significant research schools. The book concludes with a chapter on the modelling of foraminifera. Landmarks in Foraminiferal Micropalaeontology: History and Development will be of particular interest to micropalaeontologists, other Earth scientists, historians of science, museum curators and the general reader with an interest in science.