Bandy, Orville Lee

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(b. Linden. lowa, 31 March 1917;d. Inglewood, California, 2 August 1973)

geology, paleontology, micropaleontology stratigraphy.

Bandy was the son of Alfred Lee and Blanche Meacham Bandy, When he was four years old, his family moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where Bandy attended local schools and Oregon State University (OSU). There he came under the influence of Ira Allison and Earl Packard; the former taught him structural geology, sedimentology, and geomorphology; the latter, stratigraphy and paleontology. He received his B.S, in geology in 1940 and his M.S. in 1941 both from OSU. Cenozoie stratigraphy and paleontology became his main interest in his later professional life; he then focused on micropaleontology, specifically on the study of foraminifera.

From 1942 to 1946, Bandy was a communications officer in the U.S. Air Force. On 10 June 1943 he married Alda Ann Umbras, They had two children, Janet Lee and Donald Craig. After the war he was employed by the Humble Oil and Refining Company in Houston to work on the stratigraphy of the Gulf Coast. He soon realized the need for further education, especially in micropaleontology, and therefore left Houston to attend Indiana University, where he studied under the distinguished miropaleontologist J, J. Galloway. Bandy received his Ph.D. in 1948, the year he also held the Shell Oil fellowship. His dissertation, on the Eocene and Oligocene foraminifera from Little Stave Creek, Clarke County. Alabama, was published in 1949.

After receiving his Ph.D., Bandy joined the faculty of the University of Southern California (USC), where he had a distinguished career, rising through the ranks to become chairman of the department of geological sciences in 1967. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Pacific Branch of the Paleontological Society (vice president, 1954; president, 1955). He was also a member of the board of directors of the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research, serving as president from 1966 to 1967, and a fellow of the Geological Society of America. He belonged to the Swiss Geologische Gesellschaft, the subcommission on the Plio-Pleistocene Boundary of the International Geological Union, the Asociaciόn Mexicana de Geόlogos Petroleros, and Revista Española de Micropaleontología.

In spite of Bandy’s involvement in many organizations, in administration, and in teaching, he published profusely throughout his professional life: 133 papers and several more in press when he died. Some of these papers are considered classics by micropaleontologists. Bandy was among the first of the geologists trained in the era before plate tectonics to recognize the vast changes in the science of geology and to adapt to these changes rather than resist them. As chairman of the USC department of geological sciences, he added programs in geochemistry, geophysics, and chemical oceanography, realizing the importance of these disciplines to the new geology.

His association with Kenneth O. Emery at USC and the Jailer’s work charting the physical properties of the waters off southern California provided Bandy with a basis for his landmark paper on the ecology and paleoecology of some California foraminifera (1953). His frequency distribution diagrams showing the distribution of foraminifera with respect to such environmental parameters as depth, temperature. oxygen content, and salinity were soon dubbed “Bandygrams” by his students and colleagues. In his work on the San Joaquin Valley, he demonstrated (with Robert E. Arnal) how fossil foraminifera could be used to interpret the paleoenvironmental history of continental margins (1969). He used the concept of convergent evolution and the similarity of morphology as a guide to interpret environmental preference of extinct taxa. Some of his paleoecological principles and methods of correlating foraminifera structure with environment are summarized in a report of the Twenty-first International Geological Congress (1960).

After his initial concentration on benthic foraminifera, Bandy shifted his interest to planktonic forms and their zonation, using them to interpret biostratigraphy. especially the Neogene, and paleoclimatic and paleo-oceanographic conditions. Long before such methods became generally adopted in micropaleontology, he made quantitative analyses of living and fossil fauna, using physical, geochemical, mineralogic, and isotopic ratios, as well as radiometric data, to make his correlations. He contributed to the taxonomy and coiling ratios of foraminifera and to studies in problems of pollution and in interpretation of the history of sedimentary basins, by studying changes in their populations. He also used foraminifera to define the boundaries of the Pleistocene (1967). Toward the end of his career, in keeping with his awareness of the emergence of a new era in geology, he studied the relationship of paleomagnetism and magnetic reversals to foraminifera zonation (1972)

Bandy’s contributions to the theory and methods of micropaleoniology were closely related to the economic benefits of recognizing the types of environments where oil and gas could accumulate. While his career was mostly an academic one, he also had a strong interest in the oil and gas industry that was enhanced through his association with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. His approach to reconstructing environmental models and his results—for example, his work on the San Joaquin Basin—are still widely used by petroleum geologists.

Bandy was the type of scientist about whom legends are told, For example, when he first joined the USC faculty, the laboratory space assigned to him was formerly a chemistry stockroom; it became known as “Bandy’s broom closet.” In it he produced work on the morphology, classification, and distribution of foraminifera resulting in his first dozen publications. Later, with more stature and authority as chief scientist on an oceanographic cruise, he relieved the captain of the ship of his command and ordered him set ashore because he could not abide the disruption to science resulting from the constant conflict between the captain and the scientists on board.

In the science of micropaleontology Bandy was highly original and innovative; he built the foundation for the studs of paleoecology and biostratigraphy. His confidence in his quantitative methods was such that he was able to apply his profound knowledge of the tiny foraminifera to solving problems in geology and oceanography and, furthermore, to extrapolate on a grand scale. At the same time, he was also meticulous and careful in all his work. According to Professor James C. Ingle, Jr., “Bandy relished demonstrating the power of careful micropaleontologic anahsis to address large geologic and oceanographie questions. He was, in fact, doing paleo-oceanographic research some ten years before the advent of the Deep Sea Drilling Project and the blooming of this discipline in the 1970’s.”


I. Original Works. Bandy’s works are listed in W. H. Easton. “Memorial to Orville L. Bandy, 1917–1973,” in Geological Society of America. Memorials, 5 (1977); in Edith Vincent’s memorial to Bandy in W. V. Sliter, ed., Studies in Marine Micropaleontology and Paleoecology: A Memorial to Oreille L. Bandy, Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research. Special Publication no. 19 (1980), 7–13.

Bandy’s library and samples are in the Micropaleontology Laboratory at the University of Southern California.

II. Secondary Literature. Besides the memorials mentioned abuse, see a second memorial by Easton in Journal of Paleontology, 48 (1974), 422–424.

Personal communications and/or interviews with the following individuals were of great value in assessing Bandy’s contributions; Ira Allison, Art Boucot, John V, Byrne, Robert G, Douglas, W. H. Haston, D. S. Gorsline, James C. Ingle. Jr., and James P. Kennett.

Ellen T. Drake