January/February E-Newsletter

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A Tribute to Clem Chase (March 27, 1944 - February 19, 2020)

"It was my honor to be the Department Head who presided at the time of the geophysics search that ‘landed’ Clem Chase. As a department we had come to realize that our competitive future required expansion in geophysics, and in such a way that geophysics would remain closely integrated with geology and geochemistry. Clem was a professor at The University of Minnesota at the time. I recall meeting and interacting with him in the 1970s at Minnesota’s geology department when I was there to give a talk. I particularly recall that he had just completed a textbook entitled, “The Evolving Earth,” covering physical geology (a sign of his breadth). His research fame at that time included his interpretation that the midcontinent gravity high is a product Precambrian plate tectonics.  His discovery of the Midcontinent Rift System is just one expression of his originality. Clem became interested in our Geosciences opening not only because of the growing reputation of the department, but because he had grown up in Tucson, he had attended Tucson High, and he liked Tucson!
During Clem’s interview some of us were ‘blown away’ by the fact that one of his two presentations focused on geochemistry, not geophysics.  Most of us already knew that Clem was expert in plate tectonics and all aspects of geophysics and fundamental geology. But geochemistry too?! The audience for this talk was stacked with strength in petrology and geochemistry. Clem’s talk proved to be cutting edge. Offering him the position was a ‘no-brainer.’ All of us were relieved and delighted when he accepted. 
In my view, Clem was unsurpassed in his high-level grasp of the combination of plate tectonics, geophysics, geology, and geochemistry. He was methodologically superb in geodynamics and always up to speed on concepts, issues, and problems. Moreover, he displayed photographic recall of information, including facts and figures and big-picture concepts.  I recall a colleague talking about seafloor spreading in the South Atlantic, and Clem, when the question came up, ‘filling in’ the exact spreading rate at latitude 32° south. In another casual conversation he helped a colleague recall the dimension (in angstroms) of the unit cell in the lattice structure of some particular mineral. Some of us joked with him about how he even resembled Leonardo di Vinci. I cannot sufficiently emphasize how Clem was glue in the broadscale “Geosciences” collaborative spirit and action among colleagues and graduate students during a particularly important, formative chapter of our newly evolving Geosciences department. He was an integrating force among the very intellectual dimensions for which he himself was expert: geology, geophysics, geochemistry.
And what a nice colleague, and department head! His brilliance and ease in conversation about research, departmental strategies, faculty appointments, pedagogy, graduate student advising, and ordinary things, were flat-out wonderful. In debates centered on research questions, he would always be contributing and constructive, and never with an axe to grind. In short, he was a marvelous human being whose life was well led, and whose impact on research, teaching, students, staff, colleagues, and the department overall was enormous."

—George H. Davis

"Clem was a truly great scientist, colleague, and friend. I met Clem in 1990 when I was hired as a new assistant professor at UA. His breadth of knowledge was always inspiring from isotope geochemistry to geophysics and geology and he was “interdisciplinary” long before it was trendy.  He was just as comfortable modeling the geoid of the Earth with spherical harmonics as mapping a Laramide basement cored uplift in the field or interpreting paleo elevation data from fossil plants.  I can remember many insightful conversations about uplift and paleo topography in the Andes long before it was popular. Clem always urged me to think outside the box and his conversations always came back to the basics - how does the Earth work and why. Clem helped me define my research agenda long before I knew I needed to. You could walk into his office and talk to him about anything anytime. I had the pleasure of teaching with Clem and it was always insightful and fun. When we taught our summer field course together (Pete DeCelles, Clem, and I) we had many conversations over an evening fire and once again I was astounded with his knowledge of structural geology as well as local geology across Arizona, Utah and Nevada. Clem was also a good friend, colleague, and mentor to me and so many others in the department over the years. His message was always do what is interesting, connect the dots between disciplines, don’t be afraid to dive into a new topic and do what is. He cared deeply about the department, his colleagues and especially the students."
—Susan Beck

To share your own memory of Clem, please visit:!/Obituary


Upcoming Humanities Seminar: Climate Change: Earth, Sea, & Sky

Storm-Induced Sea Level Spikes Differ in Origin on US East, Gulf Coasts

Geosciences Alumni Gather in Houston for Happy Hour Event

Upcoming Events

Meet the Authors - Tucson Water Turnaround: Crisis to Success

Who: Michael J. McGuire and Marie S. Pearthree

Where: Tucson Festival of Books, Booth #148

When: Sat and Sun, March 14-15, 9:30am – 5:30 pm


Alumni Reception at GeoDaze

April 9, 2020
6:00 - 8:00 pm
ENR2 Building Roof
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721



GeoDaze 2020

April 9-11, 2020
ENR2 Building
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721

More Info


A Note from the GeoDaze Co-Chairs:

"GeoDaze 2020 will take place in the new Environmental and Natural Resources 2 building this year, in collaboration with all other Earth & Environmental Science Departments at the University of Arizona, to create a cohesive and interdisciplinary EarthWeek experience. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Terry Plank to GeoDaze this year for a keynote talk, she is an Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor at Columbia University and expert in geochemistry and magma evolution.

Geoscience graduate and undergraduate students will be able to showcase their exciting innovative research, and we are looking forward to the GeoDaze annual field trip with Professor George Davis to Texas Canyon and the Amerind Museum. We hope to see you there!"
—Lydia Bailey and Alexander Prescott
Support GeoDaze 2020
Department of Geosciences
University of Arizona
1040 E. 4th Street Tucson, AZ 85721
Phone: 520-621-6000  |  Fax: 520-621-2672

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University of Arizona Department of Geosciences · 1040 E 4th St · Room 208 · Tucson, AZ 85721-0001 · USA

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