2012 – Bob Garrison

Honorary Membership Award – 2012

Bob Garrison

Bob Garrison

I am delighted that Robert E. Garrison is being honored by the Pacific Section SEPM with the 2012 Honorary Membership Award. This is a well-disserved award for someone who has contributed so greatly to sedimentary geology in general and the Pacific Section, in particular. Bob is an outstanding sedimentologist who made tremendous contributions to our science through his research, publications, his influence on his colleagues, and his shaping of his many students. He has fundamentally changed sedimentologists’ understanding of the origin, distribution and diagenesis of fine-grained marine sediments, most notably the siliceous, calcareous and phosphatic rocks. He has generated enormous international goodwill, cooperation, integration and scientific progress with his tireless efforts to involve scientists from all institutions, regions, and countries in the understanding of the sedimentary deposits of the deep sea.

Bob is particularly important to our society for his leadership in unraveling the sedimentology, diagenesis and paleoceanography of the complicated and immensely important Miocene Monterey Formation through his own research and that of his students. He organized and edited a collection of superb Pacific Section SEPM and AAPG symposium volumes in the 1980’s (some while PS-SEPM President or past-President) that are still fantastic sources of insight for modern workers.

Throughout his career Bob Garrison has consistently addressed fundamental sedimentologic problems in fields that had previously been inadequately addressed because of the lack of appropriate methodology or due to being outside of popular trends in research. Bob’s work has focused on the origin, diagenesis

and distribution of fine-grained, deep-sea and biologically generated or mediated sediments. These are the kinds of sediments that are not easily understood by either physical or paleontological studies alone, but required an integration of traditional methods with modem marine biology, oceanography and paleoclimatology; these sediments include: radiolarites, diatomites, porcelanites and cherts; deep-sea and shelfal chalks and limestones; organic-rich mudstones (black shales); and phosphorites.

Bob’s scientific curiosity has been guided by his concern for the human condition, and in the last -25 years his research has focused primarily upon the sedimentologic resources of energy and fertilizer necessary for our communal wellbeing. It is hard, but I can try to distill out what (in my opinion are a few of Bob Garrison’s major contributions to our science.

  • Demonstrated the biogenic origin of fine-grained pelagic limestones through pioneering use of transmission electron microscopy and detailed field stratigraphy. Previously, most geologists thought these to be inorganic sediments.
  • Detailed the sedimentologic and paleoenvironmental origin of Alpine radiolarites and extended this understanding to other mountain belts throughout the world.
  • Clarified the space and time relationships between seafloor volcanic rocks and pelagic sediments. Many researchers had previously considered volcanism to be genetically responsible for the spatially related pelagic sediments.
  • Documented in detail the early diagenesis of pelagic chalks and the significance of hardgrounds, omission surfaces, nodular limestones, and the associated glauconitic or phosphatic condensed intervals.
  • Described the sedimentary petrology and sedimentology of the Mediterranean evaporite facies.
  • Unraveled the sedimentology of phosphorites and phosphatic sediments of Egypt, Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia, England, Columbia, the Peru margin, California, and Mexico.
  • Garrison was a motivating force in bringing together American, Japanese, Korean and Russian geologists to synthesize their studies of Miocene Monterey-type facies on opposite sides of the Pacific Rim.
  • Bob has been at the center of a group of colleagues investigating the origin and significance of phosphatic rocks.

Bob Garrison is also a superb teacher at all levels. I can say that he was pivotal in helping me and his other students develop a cosmopolitan understanding of the world’s geologic evolution by bringing his broad international experience (and never-ending stream of visiting colleagues) into every class and seminar. Bob’s reputation as a scientist and as a teacher has also served as the seal of approval for dozens of his students and, I know that I can speak for all of us, we all are very grateful for doors that he opened for us.

In closing, the PS-SEPM could have done no better than in selecting Bob Garrison for its Honorary Membership Award.

Enthusiastically submitted,
Richard J. Behl
Professor of Geological Sciences
California State University, Long Beach

Bob Garrison