Cynthia Dusel-Bacon


Cynthia is a geologist with the USGS in Menlo Park from 1975 to 2014; continuing with geologic studies as Geologist Emerita.  Her research has focused on the regional geology and tectonics of east-central Alaska and the northern Cordillera; trace-element tectonic fingerprinting of (meta)igneous rocks; syngenetic hydrothermal mineralization (VMS and Sedex deposits); geologic setting of mineral prospects in east-central Alaska; and distribution and petrology of metamorphic rocks in Alaska.  In 1977, during her third field season of mapping in the Big Delta quadrangle of east-central Alaska, she was mauled by a black bear and lost both arms as a result of her injuries.  Fortunately, her disability has not kept her from continuing with fieldwork in Alaska and publishing the results.


Research focus

Geologic and tectonic history of east-central Alaska utilizing geologic mapping, metamorphic petrology, whole-rock geochemistry and trace-element tectonic fingerprinting of (meta)igneous rocks, and U-Pb zircon, 40Ar-39Ar, and apatite fission track data generated by collaborating scientists.  Correlation of regional events in east-central Alaska with those in the northern Canadian Cordillera.  General interest in submarine, syngenetic hydrothermal mineral deposits hosted in volcanic and sedimentary rocks (VMS and Sedex deposits) and specific interest in the Bonnifield and Delta VMS deposits of the Alaska Range.  Petrography of igneous and metamorphic rocks.


  • University of California Santa Barbara, BA, Spanish, 1968
  • San Jose State University, Secondary Teaching Credential (Spanish), 1969
  • San Jose State University, BA, Geology, 1975

Professional Societies

  • Fellow, Geological Society of America
  • Geological Association of Canada; Member
  • Mineralogical Society of America 
  • American Geophysical Union 
  • Society of Economic Geologists 
  • Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits 
  • B.C. and Yukon Chamber of Mines 
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science's Resource Group for Science and the Handicapped

Honors and Awards

  • Chosen for Univ. of California's Education Abroad program to Univ. of Madrid, Spain (1967-1968)
  • Outstanding Handicapped Federal Employee (1 of 10) for 1981 
  • Invited speaker for Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Adventurous Women lecture series, 1995 
  • Sonoma State University Distinguished Alumni Award (1999; spent 1972-74 in undergraduate Geology Program at Sonoma State University) 
  • US Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award, 2011.

Committees and Editorial Boards

  • Committee of Visitors (COV) for the Deep Earth Processes Section of the National Science Foundation (2005) 
  • Geological Society of America, Cordilleran Section, Abstract Review Board (1981-84) and Nominations Committee (1997)
  • Associate Editor, Geological Society of America Bulletin (1993-99); Co-Editor of Geologic Studies in Alaska by the US Geological Survey (1991, 1992 USGS Bulletins) and Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska (2010 and 2011; USGS Professional Papers).


  • 2014-present Scientist Emerita, U.S. Geological Survey
  • 1980-2014 Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey 
  • 1975-1979 Physical Science Technician, U.S. Geological Survey