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May-June 2011

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In Memoriam: Ernest H. Carlson (1933–2010)

Dr. Ernest H. Carlson died 13 November 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the age of seventy-six after a long and fruitful career. With his passing the mineral world lost an exceptional teacher, researcher, collector, author, advocate, and popularizer of mineralogy. Ernie, as he was known throughout the mineral world, exemplified the best traits of those who have devoted their lives to understanding the marvels of the mineral world. He was always up for a field trip and was glad to share his extensive knowledge of minerals of the midwestern United States. Generous with his time and influence, he arranged and led trips for students, colleagues, and collectors. He was very active with the Midwest Chapter of Friends of Mineralogy in addition to his academic work.

Ernest Howard Carlson was born on 23 December 1933 in Seattle, Washington, to Ernest V. and Anna (Peterson) Carlson. After graduating from Ballard High School, he served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He received a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Washington in 1956, a master's from the University of Colorado in 1960, and a PhD from McGill University in Quebec Province in 1966. He also worked as a surveyor for U.S. and Canadian agencies while a graduate student. In addition, he did field mapping for mining companies, gaining practical experience in many parts of North America. Ernie was a founding member of the Midwest Chapter of Friends of Mineralogy and served in various officer positions. He organized four mineral symposia for the chapter and was its long-term field trip chair. Ernie helped local clubs and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History as well as many other Ohio mineral clubs. He was a fellow of both the Society of Economic Geologists and the Association of Exploration Geochemists. He was active in the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, was president of the Northern Ohio Geological Society, and also served, from 1981 to 1993, on his hometown village council.

Ernie'ps first academic role was as an instructor at Villanova University in Philadelphia during the 1965–66 school year. He then began a long tenure as a professor in the geology department at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, teaching mineralogy, X-ray crystallography, clay mineralogy, geochemical exploration, environmental geology, and Ohio geology. He served a stint (1970–71) as visiting professor at Pahlavi University in Iran and, in 1999, was in China. He also spent time at the fluid inclusion labs of the U.S. Geological Survey. Ernie directed more than a dozen theses or dissertations and collaborated with scientists throughout the academic, government, and industrial communities. He produced eighty-five peer-reviewed papers and had several near completion at the time of his death.

Although Ernie was academically active and successful, there was more to his contributions. He was a great example of living that old truism that you should bloom where you are planted. He made the very best of mineral studies in a tectonically quiet part of the world that lacked indigenous igneous or metamorphic rocks with their host of exotic minerals. Ernie authored the popular Minerals of Ohio, which will soon be reprinted in revised edition by the Ohio Geological Survey. The book is used in many schools and universities and is acknowledged as the top reference book for Ohio minerals, according to Ohio State Geologist Larry Wickstrom. Larry fondly remembers Ernie's pleasant competence, as do thousands of geology students.

Ernie published extensively in the professional and popular literature. He was especially active in studying minerals of his region and explored the occurrence and origins of celestine, fluorite, sulfide minerals, and other especially large and well-crystallized minerals from northern Ohio. He did extensive research on minerals in concretions hosted by organic-rich shales and noted crystals of wurtzite, barite, and even weddellite from his region. He also examined similar occurrences worldwide. Ernie used fluid inclusion data as well as field, microscopic, geochemical, and X-ray diffraction data to study minerals. He explored for mineral deposits using geochemical patterns.

Ernie was a most engaging and personable professor. He always had time to fully explain a topic, sometimes in different ways, to his students, most of whom have mentioned his concern that they really understand a topic. Many on field trips had watched him patiently explain some detail, again often using several different approaches. Ernie was also accomplished at generating displays for mineral shows and gave excellent oral presentations. Much of his real work was probably never recorded nor noted by his university, but Ernie did more to spread the good word about minerals than anybody else I have known. He will be long remembered by those who had the good fortune to have met him, especially in the field.

Ernie is survived by his wife since 1970, Ruth (Adams) Carlson; his son, Christopher; his daughter, Rosanna, and son-in-law, Phillip Peachock; and grandchildren Lillith Carlson and Cameron, Dylan, and Alexis Peachock.

Dr. Nelson R. Shaffer, has been a research scientist at Indiana University's Bloomington campus since 1974.

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