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Wes Hildreth

My eclectic and evolving USGS career began in 1977 when I was 39.  I’m a field-intensive continental geologist interested in magmatism, geomorphology, tectonics, and deep-time (not real-time) geologic history.  I’ve emphasized on-foot authentic geologic mapping of blank spots on the map, largely in wilderness or otherwise uninhabited areas.  

My early work attracted AGU’s Bowen Award for chemical petrology (magmatic zonation of the Bishop Tuff and Novarupta 1912, isotope evolution of caldera cycles at Yellowstone, advancing the model of fundamentally basaltic transcrustal magmatism [JGR 1981]; and I was excused the wild-goose chase of Soret effects in magma chambers). IAVCEI later gave me the Thorarinsson Medal in Volcanology, recognizing numerous papers on the Katmai region, the Cascades, the Chilean Andes, my deep-crustal MASH model of arc magmatism, and the granitic Mush model of rhyolite melt extraction. GSA recently gave me (and Judy Fierstein) the 2019 Florence Bascom Geologic Mapping Award, which celebrated what I love doing best (geologic maps of Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Three Sisters, Katmai, Simcoe Mountains, Pantelleria, Quizapu–Descabezado, Mammoth Mountain, Laguna del Maule, and Long Valley caldera. Early-on, I set aside my loner tendency (imprudent in remote areas) and teamed up with Judy Fierstein, an intrepid and indefatigable field partner of 41 years. Honi soit qui mal y pense. We survived or dodged many and varied risks together. The renowned Argon Geochronology Lab at Menlo Park (directed by Brent Dalrymple, Marv Lanphere, and Andy Calvert) has been an essential support of much of our work. My career owes much to many USGS colleagues, most of all to Patrick Muffler, Bob Christiansen, Paul Bateman, and Charlie Bacon.


*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government