Warren B. Hamilton, 1925-2018

From the Denver Post:

Warren Hamilton passed away at his home in Golden, Colorado on October 26, 2018 at age 93. His primary career was as a research scientist with the US Geological Survey in geologic, and later geophysical branches. He was a geologist known for integrating observed geology and geophysics into planetary-scale syntheses describing the evolution of Earth’s crust and mantle. After retirement in 1995, he became a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines where he taught classes through fall of 2017. Warren also taught classes through winter of 2017 with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a holder of the Penrose Medal, the highest honor of the Geological Society of America.

Warren served in the US Navy from 1943 to 1946, completed a bachelor’s degree at UCLA in a Navy training program in 1945, and was a commissioned officer on the aircraft carrier USS Tarawa. After returning to civilian life, he earned an MSc in Geology from USC and a PhD in Geology from UCLA in 1951. Warren was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Alicita. He is survived by three children, Larry (wife Leslie), Kathy (husband Steve Harhai) and Jim (wife Marjorie Flavin), six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

16 thoughts on “Warren B. Hamilton, 1925-2018

  1. PeakTrader

    I’m sure, he’s doing well on the other side to continue his journey.

    The earth with everything visible and invisible shouldn’t exist in the harshness of space.

  2. baffling

    My condolences. Your father led a very distinguished life, and his legacy will continue for generations in his grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  3. joseph

    He was fortunate to be a major part of one of the most exciting revolutions in geology — continental drift and plate tectonics. He even makes an appearance in John McPhee’s book “Assembling California.” And then goes on to extend those principles to other planets.

    Quite a lifetime contribution to geology and geophysics. I’m sure he enjoyed his excursions doing outdoor field work and working out the puzzles of the rocks he saw.

  4. Moses Herzog

    Speaking broad generalities here (and for the record, as far as I know, all my relatives, including my father were Army guys) Navy guys tend to be sharper than your Army guys. Don’t know the exact reason for that.

    Lost my Dad in 2012, got his Master’s degree in education, and said himself many times he never would have gotten the opportunity to go to college without the GI Bill. We were never that close, but I think it will always effect you more than you think it will beforehand. He was disappointed I never pursued getting a Master’s degree. Not the only thing I disappointed him on. It is what it is.

  5. Moses Herzog

    I often think of this movie when thinking of that generation’s “type” of guy. My father was born just 2 years later than Professor Hamilton’s Dad (1927). He was not born in a hospital, which was not that uncommon in that day, not to be born in a hospital. That generation’s “type” guy were not generally ones to show emotion externally. Guys who wanted to improve the world around them and have a feeling that they had “made a difference” and the world had been a better place for them residing in it. Highly recommended. You could say this is a “spoiler” for the movie “About Schmidt”, but I’ve watched it a good 5+ times and knowing the ending I don’t think takes away from the joy of watching the film.


  6. AS

    Would that we could all be part of such an accomplished multi-generational family. Best wishes to you and your family at the loss of your father.

  7. sherparick

    Condolences on the passing of your Dad Professor Hamilton. What a remarkable life and world he and the rest of his generation gifted us.

  8. Movie Guy


    I was not aware that Warren Bell Hamilton was your father. Now, I understand why I have been a follower and former participant of your fine economics blog.

    You have always demonstrated courtesy and polite understatement in responding to those regarding your econ blog posts, whether on the phone or in print. That being said, it should be noted by all individuals reading your econ blog that your father is a giant in the field of geology. The courage that he demonstrated in dispelling geological myths built on false assumptions based on his thorough scientific research was noteworthy if not fully astonishing. He had no fear. None. A True Giant.

    Your father’s working knowledge of how our planet and other planets were formed is brilliant. His research is outstanding. You ran the risk of damaging muscles in your neck by snapping your head back as you read many of his papers due to your shock of realizing what he was saying.

    It would be difficult to cite readily accessible specific papers and articles that your father has written, but I selected three which demonstrate his keen ability to conduct proper research and condemn those who attempt to eliminate voices of opposition in the geology scientific field. Readers will find those below.

    I must add, Jim, that you are very fortunate that your father did not decide to become an economist. Had your father made that decision, you would have continued in his shadow as having the second best economics blog on the internet! There is no question that his economics blog would have been lively.

    Deepest sympathy on your loss. Our loss, too.

    All the best,

    Movie Guy
    Proud son of a Giant


    Warren B. Hamilton, 1925-2018

    Warren B. Hamilton
    Colorado School of Mines

    Warren B. Hamilton

    Warren Bell Hamilton
    Penrose Medal, 1989
    The Geological Society of America

    “The Penrose Medal was established in 1927 by R.A.F. Penrose, Jr., to be awarded in recognition of eminent research in pure geology, for outstanding original contributions or achievements that mark a major advance in the science of geology.”

    “The award is made only at the discretion of the Council, which interprets pure geology to apply to all scientific disciplines represented by the Society. Nominees, represented by the Council, may or may not be members of the Society, and may be from any nation. Penrose’s sole objective in making the gift was to encourage original work in purely scientific geology. Scientific achievements should be considered rather than contributions in teaching, administration, or service. Mid-career scientists who have already made exceptional contributions should be given full consideration for the award.”

    Warren B. Hamilton
    2007 Structural Geology & Tectonics Division Career Contribution Award
    Citation by Keith Howard
    2007 GSA Division Named Awards
    The Geological Society of America

    Zombie Science & Geoscience
    By Don L. Anderson and Warren B. Hamilton
    Mantle Plumes. org
    December 11, 2008

    Earth’s First Two Billion Years — The Era of Internally Mobile Crust
    By Warren B. Hamilton, 2007
    Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines
    Golden, Colorado, 80401, USA
    Manuscript Accepted by the Society 1 February 2007
    The Geological Society of America

    Comment: An alternative Earth, Warren B. Hamilton
    GSA Today, v. 13, no. 11, p. 4–12
    January 2004

    Colorado School of Mines


  9. dilbert dogbert (mike)

    Treasure all your memories of your dad in the good times and suppress any that were not so good. In the end all we have are memories.
    As the kids say Keep On Keep’n On.

Comments are closed.