Bateman, Alan Mara

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(b. Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 6 January 1889; d. New Haven, Connecticut, 11 May 1971)


Bateman was one of three sons and a daughter born to Elizabeth Janet Mara and George Arthur Bateman. When he entered Queen’s University, Kingston, in 1906, he turned to geology, in which he excelled, graduating in 1910. Summers found him mapping the Canadian Shield under the direction of Alfred E. Barlow; the complex geology he encountered fired his imagination and led him, in 1910, to enter Yale, from which he graduated with a Ph.D. in geology in 1913. With the exception of a two-year period (1913–1915), he was a resident of New Haven for the remainder of his life. He became a U.S. citizen in 1915 and married Grace Hotchkiss Street on 3 June 1916.

Among professional honors, Bateman was a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a member of the Society of Economic Geologists (president in 1940); the American Association of Petroleum Geologists; the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America (president in 1956); the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; the American Geophysical Union; the Washington Academy of Sciences; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the Penrose Medal from the Society of Economic Geologists in 1962, and in 1970 Queen’s University awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Although Yale started awarding Ph.D. degrees in 1861, forty years passed before a formal curriculum of instruction for the degree in geology was begun with the appointment of John Duer Irving as professor of economic geology in 1907 and Joseph Barrell as professor of structural geology in 1908. Irving brought with him to Yale the editorial office of the recently founded journal Economic Geology. It was Irving’s reputation that attracted Bateman to Yale for graduate studies, and it was Economic Geology that came to play a major role in his life. Baleman’s field studies for the Geological Survey of Canada in the summers of 1911 and 1912 led to his dissertation “Geology and Ore Deposits of the Birdge River District, British Columbia,” for which he received his Ph.D. in 1913. Bateman was then offered a post as a member of the Secondary Enrichment Investigation, an extraordinary honor for one who had just received the doctorate, and one that can be seen in retrospect as having also played a major role in his professional life.

Prospecting successes in the western United Slates had uncovered many ore deposits in which a rich, but shallow, blanket of copper sulfide minerals overlay a larger, but much less rich, volume of iron sulfide and copper-iron sulfide minerals. Therich cuppings were apparently related to the modern topography and thus postdated the formation of primary ore deposits. But how the cappings formed and what controls were exerted by topography and climate were not understood. The enriched cappings were nevertheless the key to successful development of many of the large, western copper deposits, and it was essential that their origin be understood.

Directed by Louis Caryl Graton of Harvard and funded by a group of mining companies, the Secondary Enrichment Investigation combined theoretical and experimental studies at the Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, D.C., with field studies under the direction of Augustus Locke. Edgard H. Perry, and, from 1913 to 1915, Alan Bateman. The work brought Bateman into close contact with the leading economic geologists of the day and allowed him to study many of the classic ore deposits of North America. Through much of his professional life he worked on problems first encountered during these early years. The deposit that most influenced Bateman was that at Kennecott, Alaska. Although aspects of its geology remain enigmatic to the present day, the Kennecott ore led Bateman to become skilled in the study of reflected light microscopy and, in later years, to long-term consulting arrangements with the Utah Copper Company when it absorbed the Kennecott Company.

Bateman returned to Yale as an instructor in economic geology in the fall of 1915. In 1916, Irving took leave to enter officer’s training, leaving Bateman to carry both teaching duties and editorial responsibility for Economic Geology. Irving left for overseas duty in 1917 and died in France in 1918. Bateman was promoted to assistant professor in 1916, associate professor in 1922, and professor in 1925 (Silliman professor in 1941). More important, he was formally appointed editor of Economic Geology in March 1919. His stewardship of the journal was his most important contribution. As the journal grew in stature and influence, so did Bateman; indeed, it is hard to tell whether the man molded the journal or the journal molded the man. By the time he stepped down as editor in July 1969, Bateman had selected and published many of the papers that led studies of mineral deposits into the mainstream of modern scientific geology, and in the process he played a major role in the science itself.

Many of Bateman’s papers appeared in Economic Geology: two deserve comment, In 1930, Bateman reported on work performed at the behest of the Rhodesian Selection Trust on the recently discovered ores of the Zambian Copperbelt (then the Rhodesian Copperbelt). The deposits are enclosed in sedimentary rocks and contain the same minerals that Bateman had encountered during the Secondary Enrichment Investigation. Bateman’s studies led him to conclude that secondary enrichment had not significantly modified the Zambian ores and that the observed mineral assemblages are primary.

Thesecond paper was published in 1942. Bateman presented argument and evidence in favor of a magma having the approximate composition of ilmenite (FeTiO3). He reached this conclusion from studies of layered iron-titanium oxide deposits. The idea of an oxide magma was not widely accepted at that time, but subsequent studies have demonstrated that such magmas may indeed play an important role in certain igneous processes.

Bateman’s career spanned the years during which geology passed from a largely outdoor, observational activity to a theoretical, experimental, and predictive science. His main contributions lay in the role he played in effecting that transition.


I. Original Works. Bateman’s published writings inelude “Geologic Features of Tin Deposits,” in Economic Geology. 7 (1912), 209–262, with Henry G. Ferguson: “Magmatic Ore Deposits, Sudbury, Ont.,” ibid., 12 (1917), 391–426; “Geology of the Ore Deposits of Kennecott, Alaska,” ibid., 15 (1920), 1–80, with Donald H. McLaughlin; “Primary Chalcocite, Bristol Copper Mine, Connecticut,” ibid., 18 (1923), 122–166; “Geology of the Beatson Copper Mine, Alaska,” ibid., 19 (1924), 338–368;’ Some Covellite-Chalcocite Relationships,”ibid., 24 (1929), 424–439; “The Rhodesian Copper Deposits,” in Bulletin of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, no. 216 (1930), 477–513: “The Ores of the Northern Rhodesia Copper Belt,” in Economic Geology, 25 (1930), 365–418: “The Rhodesian Copper Deposits,” in Transactions of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 33 (1931), 173–213; “Notes on a Kennecott Type of Copper Deposit, Glacier Creek, Alaska,” in Economic Geology, 27 (1932), 297–306; Economic Mineral Deposits (New York. 1942; 2nd ed, 1950: repr. 1958. 1979); “Magmas and Ores,” in Economic Geology, 37 (1942), 1–15; “The Formation of Fate Magmatic Oxide Ores,” ibid., 46 (1951); 404–426; “The Formation of Mineral Deposits (New York, 1951); and as editor, Economic Geology, Fiftieth Anniversary Volume. 1905–1955, 2 vols. (Urbana. Ill., 1955).

II Secondary Literature. Walter Stanley White, “Memorial to Alan Mara Bateman, 1889–1971,” in Geological Society of America, Memorials, 3 (1974) 15–23.

Brian J. Skinner

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Bateman, Alan Mara

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