Paul Wieblen - 2004 Goldich Medal Recipient


Paul W. Weiblen, or P.W., has been a friend and professional colleague for more than
40 years. We have worked together on more projects than I can remember since P.K. Sims
selected us to help implement his programs at the Minnesota Geological Survey in the early
1960s. Therefore, it is my distinct honor and privilege to serve as P.W.’s citationist for the
2004 Goldich Medal.

P.W. was born and raised in Miller, South Dakota, and after graduation from high
school in 1945, he entered the U.S. Army. In the summer of 1945, World War II had ended
in Europe, but we were still in combat with Japan. Luckily, before P.W. finished training,
the war ended, and he was sent to Germany. After military service P.W. returned to college
and earned a B.A. degree at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa (1950), and an M.A. in
History at the University of Minnesota (1952).

P.W. came into geology in sort of a roundabout way. Apparently, he was in Istanbul
working as an agent for American Express when he met a geologist who exposed him to the
wonders of the profession. Consequently, he returned to the University of Minnesota in
1959, received an M.S. degree (1962) and Ph.D. degree (1965). He stayed at the University
in the Geology and Geophysics Department as an Assistant Professor (1965), Associate
Professor (1969), Professor (1980), and Professor Emeritus (1997). He was hired
specifically to organize and supervise the Department’s Electron Microprobe Laboratory
(1965-1980). In the 1960s, electron microprobes were at the cutting edge of modern
research, and this facility was one of the first in the country. Along the way he served as
Curator of the petrology collection (1970-1997) and supervisor of the scanning electron
microscope facility (1970-1997). He took a year off from the University to work at NASA
Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and served as Director of the University’s Space Science
Center (1985-1990).

As an academic, P.W. served on an array of academic, professional, and service
committees. That service included the Board of Directors of the Campus Club (1994-1996)
and its President (1996-1997). He regularly taught courses in physical geology, igneous and
metamorphic petrology, optical mineralogy/electron microprobe techniques, and numerous
seminars covering all kinds of geologic topics. He served as mentor for 10 Ph.D. theses—by
students including M.G. Mudrey, Jr., K.J. Schulz, R.W. Copper, R. Bauer, W. Day, J.D.
Miller, Jr., S.W. Nicholson, and B. Saini-Eidukat—and 13 master’s theses.
P.W. was first and foremost an igneous petrologist with eclectic interests, and he
could generate ideas faster than anyone I know, which he was always willing to share. Much
of the research that I have received credit over the years started out in P.W.’s brain as a
throwaway. Unlike many research geologists today who focus on one narrow topic, P.W.
concentrated on five separate research topics over much of his career. One subject included
activities that focused primarily on the petrogenesis of the Midcontinent Rift System,
especially the Duluth Complex. A second subject focused on the origin of copper- and
nickel-sulfide mineralization in the Duluth Complex, especially as it relates to metal
recovery from these possible ores. A third topic revolved around the origin of Archean
greenstones in northern Minnesota and the high-grade gneisses in the Minnesota River
Valley. A fourth subject, which he researched with Ed Roedder of the U.S. Geological
Survey, focused on petrologic and geochemical attributes of melt inclusions in lunar samples
obtained on various Apollo missions. Lastly, P.W. has been active in research to improve
quantitative chemical analyses using electron beam techniques. Lately P.W. has delved into
high-voltage electrical pulse methods for disaggregating rocks to produce clean mineral

All of these activities produced well over 100 publications including many presented
here at the Institute. All are marked by the careful use of data, acquired both in the field and
in the laboratory, and a strong intellectual component. Some of his contributions have been
controversial, but they have always made us think. That thinking has led us to a better
understanding of geologic processes, and for us in the Institute, a better understanding of
early earth history in the Lake Superior region.

Before I close, I would like to say a few words about P.W. the man. You never really
know a person until you have to live with them in a tent camp after five days of rain. P.W.
was always an easy-going, personable, considerate guy who was a pleasure to be around. I
would go into the bush with him any day. It is my distinct honor to present to the Institute,
Paul W. Weiblen as its 2004 recipient of the Goldich Medal for “Outstanding contributions
to the geology of the Lake Superior region”.

Submitted by G. B. Morey
April 2004
Awarded May 6, 2004
Duluth, Minnesota
50th Annual Institute on Lake Superior Geology