Dust in the wind: J. A. Udden’s turn-of-the-century research at Augustana
Published:January 01, 1985
As geologist and director of the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, J. A. Udden gained a reputation as a pioneer geologist from 1911–1932. Less is known about Udden’s tenure at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, from 1888–1911. A study of letters to and from his teacher, students, and sons during this period, in light of some of his key tum-of-the-century publications, shows the influence of Udden’s research at Augustana.
Many of the concepts which brought him recognition later in life were developed under the guidance of his Augustana teacher, Josua Lindahl. As early as 1891, Udden advocated an actualistic approach to geology much like that of Johannes Walther. Udden’s research on wind-blown sediments led to the development of a particle distribution scheme that is used by sedimentologists today—the Udden-Wentworth scale. Working with T. C. Chamberlin, Udden was one of the first geologists to demonstrate that the Pleistocene loess of the Upper Mississsippi Valley was a wind-blown, not water-laid sediment. His interest in wind led to the construction of a working model of a flying machine. He perceived the importance of drill cuttings long before the oil and gas industry realized their value in subsurface geology. An interest in electricity led to Udden’s recommendation of seismic reflection as an exploration tool for oil and gas. Despite a full-time teaching load, Udden published 46 papers during his 23 years at Augustana.
Figures & Tables
Geologists and Ideas
An unusually coherent, well-written volume. Prepared for DNAG by the History of Geology Division of GSA. Spotlights events, ideas, and people, and sheds light on the history of North American geology as a whole. With its many intellectual jewels on the evolution of scientific concepts, this book will provide many happy hours of entertainment and instruction for anyone interested in the history of science, especially that of the earth sciences. Thirty-four papers are organized into four categories: (1) The Evolution of Significant Ideas; (2) Contributions of Individuals; (3) Contributions of Organized Groups; and (4) Application of Significant Ideas. Excellent as a course-book or for additional reading for classes related to the history of geology or general science.