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.