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Robert P. Sharp Oral History Interview with Shelley Erwin (supplement)

 Digital Record
Identifier: 2016-02-17-000144


  • Other: 2016 February 17


This interview in two sessions in 1998 with Robert P. Sharp, Sharp Professor of Geology emeritus, begins with an account of his institution in 1984 of student field trips to Hawaii to study volcanism up close (Project Pahoehoe), thanks to the financial support of H. Dudley Wright. Recollections of alumni geology field trips that Sharp conducted over the previous two decades to Hawaii, Alaska, Yellowstone, Utah, Death Valley, Pennsylvania, New England, and Iceland, to bring alumni closer to Caltech. Discussion of the field course he has taught at Caltech since his retirement in 1979 (Geology of the Southwestern United States). Discussion of the evolution of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech: early influence of J. C. Merriam on R. A. Millikan; evaluation of J. P. Buwalda's long chairmanship of the division; recollections of Beno Gutenberg; recollections of Chester Stock. Stock's work in vertebrate paleontology; the decision to phase out vertebrate paleontology after Stock's death in 1950; sale in 1957 of the fossil collections to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. Recollections of the contributions of Stock's colleagues Eustace Furlong and William Otto. The interview concludes with a discussion of the new field of geobiology and the interest in ancient DNA and possible role of the division in such investigations.

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