Jim Miller
2012 Goldich Medal Recipient

Dr. Jim Miller is indeed a worthy recipient of the 2011 Goldich Medal. Jim exemplifies the best of what this award represents on the basis of his contributions to our understanding of Lake Superior geology and his long-standing involvement with the Institute on Lake Superior Geology.

Most of us know Jim for his work in the Midcontinent Rift in Minnesota over more than 25 years. The major emphasis of Jim’s research with the Minnesota Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota since 1985 has been field, petrologic, and metallogenic studies of the igneous rocks of this 1.1 billion-year-old rift. His work has focused on producing bedrock geologic maps of the Duluth Complex and related intrusive terranes of the Rift in northeastern Minnesota and on studying the petrology and crystallization history of various intrusions within it. Jim has authored or co-authored dozens of peer-reviewed reports, papers and maps and is regarded world-wide as an expert in the Duluth Complex and the Midcontinent Rift. He has 54 contributions in ILSG publications, including both abstracts and field trip guidebooks.

Jim’s work is not purely academic, however, his research and mapping has led to the evaluation of the copper-nickel-platinum group element potential of many Midcontinent Rift intrusions. One of the first collaborations that Jim and I worked on was a field trip for the International Geologic Correlation Program looking at mafic intrusions in Ontario and Minnesota, a trip that we reprised in 2002 and 2010 for the International Platinum Symposium. Jim has had a long-standing history with this symposium, presenting papers, workshops and field trips on the economic potential of the Lake Superior region. Jim is highly regarded by geologists in the mineral exploration industry and frequently takes the opportunity to present his research and ideas at industry-based symposia.

From 1989 to 2005, Jim was the principal investigator for a series of six biennial grants from the Minnesota State Legislature’s Minerals Coordinating Committee. Specific projects included:
• Shallow drilling project, central Duluth Complex;
• Geologic mapping in the Duluth area;
• Petrology and metallogenesis of the Duluth Complex at Duluth;
• Geologic mapping in the Allen quadrangle;
• Digital geologic mapping of the central Duluth Complex;
• PGE potential of the Sonju Lake Intrusion;
• Geology and mineral potential of the Duluth Complex;
• Geology and PGE potential of the Greenwood Lake Intrusion and PGE evaluation of mafic intrusions outside the Duluth Complex.

Jim’s research, as well as that of the many undergraduate and graduate students he has supervised, has contributed to the understanding of the general tectonic and magmatic history of the Midcontinent Rift and its mineral deposits. This has led to new ideas in rift development and metallogeny. Jim’s ideas and discoveries have led to industry interest and investment, including the drilling of a recently discovered PGE-bearing reef in the Sonju Lake intrusion.
In addition to his research, Jim has also worked with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to produce geological displays for North Shore State Parks. He continues to be an advocate of public education and works with researchers in different disciplines such as health, public policy and the environment in making informed decisions involving geology and mineral development.

Another major focus of Jim’s work involves educational outreach. Jim frequently speaks to school groups, teaches non-credit classes and leads field trips in an attempt to introduce Minnesota geology to non-geologists. He has been actively involved in planning and implementation of workshops for kindergarten to Grade 12 earth science teachers for many years. Jim has taught Compleat and Practical Scholar Courses, non-credit classes on Minnesota’s geology sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s General College. Course offerings have included:
• Drifting Continents/Expanding Oceans: An Introduction to the Dynamic Earth (1994-98);
• The Making of Laurentia – Minnesota’s Geologic History (1994-99);
• What’s this Rock? An Introduction to the Geology of Minnesota’s North Shore (2003-05).

Since 2006, Jim has taught non-credit, one-day summer field classes at the University of Minnesota’s College of Continuing Education’s Curiosity Camp entitled “A Geology Tour of the Twin Cities”.
The Teacher Inquiry-based Minnesota Earth Science (TIMES) Project was a federally funded program sponsored by Hamline University that organized two week-long summer field courses for middle school earth science teachers in Minnesota. Jim served as guest lecturer and assisted on field trips for projects between 2000 and 2009 and was the lead instructor for the 2008 program. The Minnesota Mineral Education Workshop began in 1997. Jim served as an instructor, field trip leader and program coordinator for this annual three-day workshop for K-12 earth science teachers that offers short courses and field trips on the geology and mineral resources of Minnesota. He has also lectured on the geology of Minnesota for the national Elderhostel Program since 1986.

Jim, now a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, continues to enthusiastically teach geology and encourage students. He is a staunch advocate of economic geology and tirelessly lobbies administration, government and industry for their ongoing support of the geology program. Most recently, Jim has spearheaded the creation and administration of the Precambrian Research Center (PRC), which was established to satisfy an urgent, long-term need for geologists trained in the mapping and study of Precambrian rocks and their mineral deposits. As a director, Jim continues to canvass the mineral industry for sponsorships, thesis support and ideas on maintaining the relevance of the PRC. The PRC organizes professional workshops and is planning to take a major role in managing the popular Minnesota Minerals Education Workshop for teachers.

Jim is a member of the Geological Society of America (GSA), Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) and the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG). He served in 1995 as Co-chair of UNESCO-sponsored International Geologic Correlation Program (IGCP) Project 336 on the topic of mineral deposits associated intracontinental rift systems. From 2003 to the present, Jim has served as principal investigator for one-year grants from the U.S. Geological Survey’s EDMAP program, which go toward funding student field research. He is currently Vice Chair of Operations, Minnesota Center for Minerals Resource Education and was Field Trip Chairman for the 2011 Geological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis.

Jim has co-chaired the annual meeting of the Institute on Lake Superior Geology three times and has remained a staunch supporter of the Institute for over 30 years (1979-present). His numerous contributions to our understanding of Lake Superior geology are well-regarded by colleagues, peers and clients alike. He is a vocal advocate of education in the earth sciences. He continues to be captivated by the geology and mineral potential of the Lake Superior region. He exemplifies the dedication and enthusiasm that are the hallmarks of previous Goldich Medal recipients. Jim is indeed a worthy addition to this list.

Submitted by Mark Smyk, P.Geo.
Ontario Geological Survey, Thunder Bay