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Buddington, Arthur Francis


(b. Wilmington, Delaware, 29 November 1890; d. Cohasset, Massachusetts, 25 December 1980)


Buddington was the second child of Osmer Gilbert and Mary Salina Wheeler Buddington. When Arthur was fourteen, the family returned to the parents native Connecticut, where the elder Buddington combined serving as pastor to a country Baptist church with operation of a small produce and poultry farm. Arthur attended public schools in Wilmington and in Connecticut and nearby Rhode Island, graduating from Westerly (Rhode Island) High School in 1908. He then entered Brown University, majoring first in chemistry and botany, then in geology. After graduating second in his class in 1912, he went on to receive the M.S. degree in 1913. His graduate work was completed at Princeton University with the granting of the Ph.D. degree in 1916.

Buddington’s course was erratic for the next several years: after briefly considering a career in the petroleum industry, he began fieldwork in the Adirondacks, then returned to Brown as an instructor in 1917, only to leave within the year to teach military aerial observation at Princeton. In 1918 he enlisted in the army as a private and was assigned (because of his technical background) to the Chemical Warfare Service. Mustered out at war’s end with the rank of sergeant, he returned briefly to Brown, then in 1919 accepted appointment to the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution, In 1920 his career finally stabilized with his appointment as assistant professor at Princeton, where he was to remain until (and after) formal retirement in 1959. He was married in 1924 to Jene Elizabeth Muntz; they had one child, Elizabeth Jene.

Aside from Princeton. Buddington was closely associated throughout his career with two scientific organizations: the New York State Museum, which sponsored his early fieldwork in the Adirondacks. and the United States Geological Survey, for which he carried out extensive field studies in Alaska and in Oregon, and—particularly during World War II— on iron deposits of the Adirondacks and adjacent regions. A member of many scientific societies. Buddington served as president of the Mineralogical Society of America in 1942; president of the Volcanology Section of the American Geophysical Union from 1941 to 1944; vice president of the Geological Society of America in 1943 and 1947; and chairman of the Geology Section of the National Academy of Sciences from 1954 to 1957. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1943 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1947. He received the Penrose Medal of the Geological Society of America in 1954. the Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America in 1956, the André H. Dumont Medal of the Geological Society of Belgium in 1960, and the Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1963.

Within the broader realm of geology, Buddington was a petrologist, with a prime aim of interpreting the mineral assemblages of rocks and ores in terms of chemical principles and theory. More specifically, he considered himself a field petrologist, dedicated to the mapping and study of rocks in actual outcrop; he once estimated that he had examined and mapped 50, 000 outcrops over a 44-year period, involving about 35, 000 miles of travel on foot and 5, 500 miles in small boat. Much of this great effort is recorded in geologic maps and documentary-type reports, most of which were published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the New York State Museum. These fact-laden reports, recognized as contributions of long-term value to the national geologic data base, also served as bases for Buddington’s better-known topical papers, in which he advanced concepts of more general import, all of which stem directly from or are rooted in these field studies. Several examples follow:

Buddington’s widely cited 1959 paper delineating and explaining differences in the nature of igneous intrusives in terms of depth of emplacement is based on his perceptive observations made in the course of mapping such bodies in the greatly different geologic environments of Newfoundland, the Alaska Coast Ranges, the Oregon Cascades, and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Definition of a “xenothermal” (shallow-depth, high-temperature) class of ore deposits (1935)—one of the first formal breaks with the then-accepted classification in which temperature of formation and depth of emplacement were assumed to vary sympathetically—clearly stemmed from his field study of shallow intrusives of the Oregon Cascades and their related ores.

Buddington’s classification of anorthosites (plagioclase-rich igneous rocks) into a Grenville type characterized by massif habit and a crystal-settled type occurring within layered gabbroic complexes (1960), which brought out the profound differences in origin and significance of these mineralogically similar rocks, is based on his field studies in the Grenville terrane of the Adirondacks, coupled with observations on the Stillwater Complex of Montana made during his supervision of several Ph.D. studies.

Recognition that the mineralogic and compositional variations in the Fe-Ti-O system could serve as a measure of initial temperature and oxygen fugacity (Buddington and Lindsley, 1964)—a contribution that has led to development of increasingly sophisticated geologic thermometers and oxygen barometers—was a culmination of a long series of studies on magnetite-hematite-ilmenite ore deposits of the Adirondack region that began in the field and continued in the laboratory.

Buddington was a key member of the geology department at Princeton for nearly forty years, fourteen of which were spent as chairman (1936–1950). In his teaching, as in his research, he ranged widely over the geologic spectrum; two of his students—Harry H. Hess and J. Tuzo Wilson—were to play key roles in the “plate tectonics” revolution of geologic science in the 1960’s. In his petrology courses, particularly at the graduate level, he stressed the application of theoretical and experimental chemistry to natural systems. Because of his intimate knowledge of rocks as they actually occur, however, he repeatedly noted the limitations of present knowledge of chemical theory and principles; he taught, therefore, not a developed set of organized conclusions but a method of approach designed to outlast the concepts of any given date.


I. Original Works. A small selection of Buddington’s extensive writings is “The Binary System Akermanitegehlenite,” in American Journal of Science, 199 (1920), 131–140, written with J. B. Ferguson; Geology of the Lake Bonaparte Quadrangle, New York State Museum Bulletin no. 269 (1926), written with C. H. Smyth, Jr.; “Coast Range Intrusives of Southeastern Alaska,” in Journal of Geology, 35 (1927), 224–246; Geology and Mineral Deposits of Southeastern Alaska, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin no. 800 (1929), written with Theodore Chapin; “The Adirondack Magmatic Stem,” in Journal of Geology, 39 (1931), 240–263; “Correlation of Kinds of Igneous Rocks with Kinds of Mineralization,” Ore Deposits of the Western States (New York, 1933), 350–385; “High-Temperature Mineral Associations at Shallow to Moderate Depths,” in Economic Geology, 30 (1935), 205–222; Metalliferous Mineral Deposits of the Cascade Range in Oregon, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin no. 893 (1938), written with Eugene Callaghan: Adirondack Igneous Rocks and Their Metamorphism, Geological Society of America Memoir no. 7 (1939); “Some Petrological Concepts and the Interior of the Earth,” in American Mineralogist, 28 (1943), 119–140.

Later writings include “Correlation of Reverse Remanent Magnetism and Negative Anomalies with Certain Minerals.” in Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity, 6 (1954), 176–181; written with J. R. Balsley; “Thermometric and Petrogenetic Significance of Titaniferous Magnetite.” in American Journal of Science, 253 (1955), 497–532, written with Joseph Fahey and Angelina Vlisidis; “Discussion,” in American Journal of Science, 254 (1956), 511–515; “Granite Emplacement with Special Reference to North America,” in Geological Society of America Bulletin, 70 (1959). 671–747: “The Origin of Anorthosite Re-evaluated,” in Records of the Geological Survey of India, 86 (1960), 421–432: Microintergrowths and Fabrics of Iron-titanium Oxide Minerals in Some Adirondack Rocks (Hyderabad, India, 1961), 1–16, written with J. R. Balsley; Regional Geology of the St. Lawrence County Magnetite District, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper no. 376 (New York, 1962), written with B. F. Leonard; Ore Deposits of the St. Lawrence County Magnetite District, Northwest Adirondacks, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper no. 377 (New York, 1964), written with B. F. Leonard; “Iron-titanium Oxide Minerals and Synthetic Equivalents,” in Journal of Petrology, 5 (1964), 310–357, written with D. H. Lindsley: “Sulfur Isotopes and Origin of Northwest Adirondack Sulfide Deposits,” in Geological Society of America Memoir, 115 (1969), 423–451, written with M. L. Jensen and R. C. Mauger; Geology of the Franklin and Part of the Hamburg Quadrangles N.J., U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper no. 638 (1970), written with D. R. Baker; “Anorthosite Bearing Complexes: Classification and Parental Magmas,” in C. Naganna. ed., Studies in Precambrians (Bangalore. India, 1975), 115–141.

II. Secondary Literature. R. B. Hargraves, “Memorial to Arthur Francis Buddington.” in Geological Society of America. Memorials, 14 (1984): and Harold L. James, “Arthur Francis Buddington.” in Biographical Memoirs. National Academy of Sciences, 57 (1987), 3–24. Each has a bibliography.

Harold L. James

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