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Silver, Leon Theodore (Geologist)



  • Existence: 1925 - 2222


Background: Caltech Professor of Geology, 1955-1996; Caltech alumnus (PhD, 1955).


Description: Leon Theodore Silver was born in 1925 in Monticello, New York, and grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut. He attended the Colorado School of Mines but was called to active duty in the navy in 1943. He completed his undergraduate degree in geology at the University of Colorado. After a master's degree at the University of New Mexico (1948), he decided to enroll in the PhD program in geology at Caltech, where he earned his degree in 1955. Silver served as geologist to the newly formed geochemistry group at Caltech, under the leadership of Harrison Brown. Thereafter he continued his research, mainly on geological formations in Arizona and the San Gabriel Mountains, teaching and consulting for the US Geological Service, alongside of special projects, such as instructing the Apollo astronauts in geology and lunar sample selection. He himself made important contributions to lunar and geochronology. He also participated, with Robert Sharp and other Caltech geologists, in leading many trips down the Colorado River and to other geological sites for Caltech's Associates and alumni. He became emeritus in 1996.


Collection Notes: Oral history, 1994-1995, 2000. This 104-page oral history with interviewer Shirley Cohen covers Silver's family background, childhood, undergraduate years at Colorado School of Mines and University of Colorado, participation in navy V-12 program and enlistment in Naval Civil Engineer Corps; Caltech PhD 1955. History of the growth and development of the Caltech Geological and Planetary Sciences Division from the 1950s; formation of research group in geochemistry. Continuing work with US Geological Survey; training NASA's Apollo mission astronauts. Grand Canyon trips for Caltech Associates and alumni; reminiscences of Eugene Shoemaker.

Found in 15 Collections and/or Records:

Air Talk with Lance Davis and Leon Silver, 1989-02-15

Scope and Contents From the Collection: The collection is divided according to the recording type: audio and video then ordered chronologically. Each recording includes an interview with either Caltech faculty, administrators, staff, students, alumni, JPL scientists or administrators. It also includes features such as Caltech Almanac -a detailed look at some of the many interesting people, places and discoveries in Caltech’s history-, Caltech Calendar -a listing of upcoming public events on campus- and Caltech in the News....
Dates: 1989-02-15

Airtalk: The Caltech Edition

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1989-00342

Airtalk: The Caltech Edition

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1994-00070

AirTalk with Leon Silver

 Digital Record
Identifier: 2018-02-05-000010

California Crustal Shuffle

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1986-00590

Leon Silver Oral History Interview with Shirley Cohen [sound recording], 1994-12-12 - 2000-02-23

Scope and Contents Interview in six sessions, in December 1994-January 1995 and February 2000, conducted by Shirley K. Cohen with Leon T. Silver, W. M. Keck Foundation Professor for Resource Geology, emeritus, at Caltech. This lengthy interview begins with discussion of family background in Russia and Poland, youth in New York and Connecticut, and beginning of higher education at Colorado School of Mines, 1942. Recalls participation in navy V-12 program at U. of Colorado; degree in civil engineering and entry...
Dates: 1994-12-12 - 2000-02-23

Mythical Mojave

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1986-00589

Mythical Mojave

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 2002-00504

The assembly and evolution of the continents

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 2012-00171

The Earth And Planets Conference

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1995-00272

Additional filters:

Unprocessed Material 10
Archival Object 4
Digital Record 1
Geology 5
AirTalk 4
Alumni Day 2
Photo Archive 2
Astronomy 1