Everett Lindsay University of Arizona

Garniss Curtis was a remarkable teacher, and gifted human being. I regret that I barely knew him, having first met him at my graduate oral exam in 1965 where he was (fortunately) a member of my graduate examining committee. At the beginning of my oral exam I gave a brief review of my background, informing my committee that I grew up in the Sacramento valley, where my father had an almond orchard on the north side of the Sutter Buttes, and that I had taught several years at Yuba City High School prior to entering Berkeley as a graduate student. During a break in my oral exam, Garniss ran up to his office and grabbed some rocks from the Sutter Buttes. Later when it was his turn to ask me a question he pulled the rocks out of his pocket, saying 'What can you tell us about these rocks?' I was very surprised, and when I looked at the rhyolite porphyry and andesite samples similar to rocks that I had walked over and examined many times in the Sutter Buttes, it was like seeing an old friend. I can't recall what I said about the rocks to my committee, but it must have been good because I was very relieved, and elated to see some rocks that I knew something about, and proceeded during the rest of my oral exam with much more confidence.

I later became much better acquainted with Garniss during the summer of 1965 when I was one of the graduate students assisting Garniss and my advisor, Don Savage, search for fossils and volcanic ashes in Italy and France that would help to correlate late Miocene Villafranchian deposits and fossils of Europe with Blancan deposits and fossils here in North America. As I read the memories of many of Garniss' students in the announcement of this memorial, I regret that I had never taken a course from Garniss when I was studying at Berkeley. The only geology course that I took at Berkeley was from Howell Williams, who was also a very gifted and enthusiastic teacher. I was fortunate, however, in that Garniss took me under his wing, so to speak, and tutored me in his office on how to recognize volcanic ash deposits, following the summer of 1965. Also, later when I would visit Berkeley after completing my degree, I would occasionally bump into Garniss in the Earth Science Building, and he was always very friendly, and thoughtful. Such occasions have impressed me with gratitude for all of my experiences shared with teachers and colleagues here at Berkeley. This is a great academic institution, made so by many great teachers, like Garniss Curtis and Don Savage.

Shute Family

Garniss: Connoisseur, Raconteur, Genuine Friend

Savoring the memories of a man many of us know as the consummate teacher, a man so expert at taking his 'student'---whether a young child or older adult, often in a social situation---from their level of knowledge (or lack thereof) to an accessible level, then beyond, dispersing crumbs of information leading to nuggets of knowledge, this is how we remember Garniss. Always, the 'student' had to be interested; mediocrity was not an option. And, Garniss was interested in what you found to be important and why---whether that was for him or, more likely, for you to think about. Stories abound from his students, some published. One he liked to tell was about an undergraduate field trip class in which a rattlesnake in repose on a wooden fence was was 'rattled' by the passing line of 'intrepid' geology students. When the shrieks alerted Garniss, he flung his rock pick at the snake, impaling it on the fence. One student turned ashen, ran from the scene, never to be seen again, neither after the field trip nor in class.

As the above story illustrates, Garniss prided himself on his marksmanship. No one could match him at popping champagne corks at a particular target, which he delighted in doing including showing you how easy it is. He oft told of his regret shooting rodents and birds for the sport as a young hunter, instead becoming an appreciator of birds everywhere, feeding scores in his garden. His keen vision would spot returning birds each year, and they became unafraid of him, especially when he put up chicken-wire against a bird house entrance to allow the small birds nesting there safety from the ever-present, hungry jays. He was always alert to hawks flying overhead as they rode air currents and commenting on what "fun they were having". Above all, the ravens were his favorite---he respected their intelligence.

Garniss had "taste", whether it was wine, classical music, art from the pre-historic to modern, food---all cuisines. Memories: Brown-bag wine tastings with his Two Buck Chuck scoring high, and the resultant twinkle in his eye underscoring his own 'victory'; of his Fettuccine, even bringing a pot of it (plus paper plates, plastic forks) to SFO International before a trip he was leading for 15 of his friends to some remote destination (before TSA days). And, his Brown Bag-Baked Apple Pies (a recipe from his dear friend Carole Travis Henikoff), once making 13 of them for his own party of 85 guests.

Garniss had "stories", his experiences causing fits of laughter, tears of sentiment or joy, all memorable. His accidental and exuberant tracking of a rhino mother and her baby around a high mound in Africa. The journey of the Leakey eagles by air (not airplane) following the ship from Africa to London. The sword 'fight' on a huge table in a European castle between him and a dissenting scientist. His description of a slide (projected on an auditorium screen at an international conference) of a Los Angeles moonrise as "LA at noon through the smog", thereby securing the next conference chairmanship which he sought for his Berkeley Geochronology Center.

Whether your name is Sophia Loren, Carole Channing or a student and friend of any age, all remember Garniss. It would always astound him that people of great fame or none, would remember him and their previous conversations despite the intervening years. Some have said: The women all love Garniss. Garniss had an unspoken respect for women. Perhaps, it was because of his mother whose intellect and affinity for adventure he admired---she packed him and his sister into their car in the mid-1920's when the road over Tioga Pass first opened, to make that harrowing journey. Perhaps, from his sister Jane who preceded him in death and of whom he spoke lovingly.

Insightful. Caring. Sensitive. Self-deprecating. Brilliant.

Garniss touched lives in simple and life-altering ways. For that he is remembered and cherished.

Eleanor Swent Oral History of Garniss Curtis

Helping Garniss to record his oral history was my great pleasure. As his friends and students know, he loved his work, and this enthusiasm permeated his recollections. He tells of his progression in interests from economic geology to vulcanology and eventually to his specialty, geochronology. His account of his work with the Leakeys at the Olduvai Gorge is particularly interesting and will be welcomed by future historians. His fascination with ancient events did not keep him from anticipating the future, as in his interview he examines a visionary project to surround the USSR with seismographs to detect nuclear testing .

Ian McDougall

I am hugely indebted to Garniss for many things, especially for his understanding tutelage of a young Australian geologist in the relatively new field of K/Ar dating during 1960-61. The people at Berkeley, particularly Garniss Curtis and Jack Evernden in the Department of Geology with the late John Reynolds in Dept. of Physics at UC Berkeley, had developed a new approach to measuring argon isotope ratios in a Reynolds mass spectrometer, resulting in a revolution as to how we made these measurements. As I remarked in a recent manuscript, dedicated to Curtis and Evernden, the taking of the step to static operation of the glass-enveloped Reynolds mass spectrometer for argon isotopic measured reduced the amount of material required for an analysis by more than an order of magnitude. Little did they know at that time that the variant of K/Ar dating, known as the 40Ar/39Ar technique, first developed in Reynolds' laboratory in Physics by Merrihue and Turner (1966, JGR vol. 71) would ultimately essentially supersede the conventional K/Ar analysis as the method of choice, because in effect an age can be measured on a single crystal, rather than on two separate aliquots of a sample. Thus, virtually all modern laboratories use the methods pioneered in the Berkeley laboratories, of which that operated by Curtis & Evernden, was clearly the leader in this highly competitive field.

But you asked for some recollections and in the following I shall try to put a few things down that occur to me. I first met Curtis in ~1958 in Canberra, Australia, when he was visiting the Department of Geophysics (as it was then known) in the Research School of Physical Sciences of the fledgling Australian National University, to collect geological samples in Australia for K/Ar dating in relation to the better definition of the dating of the relative geological time scale. I was a graduate student at the time, studying the field occurrence, petrology, geochemistry and differentiation of Jurassic tholeiites intruded into nearly flat lying Permian and Triassic sedimentary rocks in Tasmania. Little did I know then that I would sit at the feet of Curtis some years later as a recruit to the K/Ar dating group. This came about because Professor J. C. Jaeger, who founded the Geophysics Department in Canberra, later decided to go into K/Ar dating and had ordered a Reynolds' mass spectrometer and argon extraction line, probably in 1959. Jaeger also invited Evernden from Berkeley to come to the department for six months or so to help set up the equipment with John Richards, a chemist from the department. At the same time Jaeger encouraged me to think of changing from a petrologist to a geochronologist by applying for an overseas fellowship that would enable me to go to Berkeley to learn about K/Ar dating from Curtis. I remember thinking long and hard about this, but my qualms were satisfied when Jaeger told me he hoped that I would consider returning to his department in Canberra after my year in Berkeley. Jaeger was very keen to have more that one person in any field he moved into, to ensure that there was good cross consultation, and this particularly applied to K/Ar dating as the departmental person involved was a chemist, and Jaeger no doubt thought a geologist would supplement Richard's background very well. So I flew off to Berkeley in August 1960, stopping on the way to see the remarkable volcanic activity at Kilauea in Hawaii as I had always been fascinated by the geology of Hawaiian volcanism. My time in Berkeley was indeed productive, and I recall it was really through Garniss Curtis that it went so well. Not only did he guide me through the learning of K/Ar techniques at the time, but also looked after us socially, by inviting myself and wife to their place at Orinda near Walnut Creek and taking us out to dinner in San Francisco. I also well remember travelling to Denver by car with Curtis to participate in the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in 1960, with Curtis stopping at various vertebrate localities on the way to sample in relation to time scale studies.

On my way back to Australia in August 1961, I was able to spend a month sampling volcanic rocks in the Hawaiian island chain, in the hope that some of these samples might yield reliable K/Ar ages, despite the commonly held view at the time that the rocks were much too young to apply the K/Ar method of dating to. It was about one year after I returned from the USA before I even attempted to date these rocks, and lo and behold ages were successfully obtained primarily because of the advances that had been made in Berkeley. In fact, the migration of volcanism along the island chain, postulated more than a century previously by James Dana of the US Exploring Expedition, was for the first time authenticated directly by these measurements.

My next serious contact with Curtis was in 1978 on my way to a meeting of geochronologists in Colorado when I called into Berkeley to discuss his work on dating human evolution in East Africa, and to mention that I was planning to go to Kenya after the meeting in Colorado, because I had been approached by Richard Leakey concerning the inconsistencies between the dates generated by the 40Ar/39Ar technique in Cambridge, England, and the K/Ar ages measured by the people at Berkeley, specifically on the KBS Tuff in northern Kenya. When I finally got to Kenya, I was somewhat surprised to see Curtis and Drake from Berkeley also there, but as per usual we got along fine. But in the field in northern Kenya, myself and Andrew Gleadow, who was also an Australian, but working on fission track dating, competed with Curtis and Drake for the best samples as Ian Findlater, the geologist employed by the Koobi Fora expedition then, showed us the stratigraphy of the Turkana Basin, as known at the time. Findlater took us to many of the sites in this large basin, exposed east of Lake Turkana, where pumice clasts were known to occur, and which were the focus of K/Ar dating of alkali feldspars because the sedimentary sequence was host to the many hominin fossils found there, and the timing of deposition was important. Thus, at each outcrop Gleadow and myself went about collecting multiple samples of these pumice clasts, while Curtis and Drake did likewise. Nevertheless at dinner in the evening at Koobi Fora there was much good-natured banter and discussion about the day's activities. The measurements we made essentially confirmed the Berkeley results, but we were able to measure K/Ar ages on many other levels in the sequence; this work has continued to this day, and we now have more than 35 levels for which ages have been determined, virtually all of which are concordant with the stratigraphy, providing good constraints as to the age of the many fossils recovered from the sequence.

I remained in intermittent contact with Curtis on my occasional visits to Berkeley, including during the unfortunate problem at BGC that became the talking point at the geochronological meeting held at Berkeley in 1994. By this time the breakdown between most of the geochronologists at BGC and the palaeoanthropological people had become so serious that most of the geochronologists were isolated from their laboratories. I remember Garniss talking about this issue publicly at the meeting in a rather disarming way, hoping to see a way through the impasse. Curtis was head of the group who ran the meeting, so for him to have the laboratories closed at that time was particularly difficult. Ultimately, the situation was resolved, so that BGC continues to display much original work, not only in 40Ar/39Ar dating, but also in several other techniques such as U/Pb and U+Th/He dating.

Overall, my relations with Garniss Curtis were among the very best of my scientific career, which Curtis helped at every opportunity.

Brian Hausback Sacramento State University

Garniss Curtis and the Sutter Buttes: Besides his far flung studies in Olduvai Gorge and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Garniss also focused some of his boundless energies on geologic "problems" closer to home. He joined Howell Williams, also a Berkeley professor, in a thorough evaluation of the Sutter Buttes, a small and isolated volcano in the middle of the Sacramento Valley. Williams, "Willy" had written about the Sutter Buttes in 1929 but, left a number of mysteries unsolved. Garniss contributed his mastery of K-Ar dating and his keen observational and mapping skills to the team effort. In 1977 they published their new mapping, age analysis and interpretation of the eruptions of the Sutter Buttes. That study showcased the careful, insightful, and collaborative research style of Garniss Curtis.

Garniss Curtis PhD Thesis: In 1951 Garniss completed his Ph.D. thesis at UC Berkeley, "The Geology of the Topaz Lake Quadrangle and the Eastern Half of the Ebbetts Pass Quadrangle". Based on these studies, he went on to propose a model for the origin of pyroclastic debris flows, a feature previously poorly understood but very widespread and common at andesite volcanoes everywhere along the circumpacific ring of fire including the older ancestral Cascades along the crest of the Sierra Nevada. After completing his thesis, Garniss was invited to join the geology faculty at Cal.

Wes Hildreth

In 2003, Garniss Curtis was invited to Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaskan Peninsula by Wes Hildreth and Judy Fierstein to (1) celebrate completion of their 20-season study of the great 1912 eruption (fieldwork 1976-2003) and (2) to mark the 50th anniversary of Garniss' own landmark fieldwork at Katmai (in 1953-4). The following are extracts from a monograph on their work and revelations:

Hildreth, Wes, and Fierstein, Judy, 2012, The Novarupta-Katmai Eruption of 1912: Largest Eruption of the Twentieth Century: Centennial Perspectives: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1791, 260 p.

Garniss Hearfield Curtis (1919:2012) is a field geologist, volcanologist, and geochronologist who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1942 and worked four years as a mining engineer and geologist before returning to Berkeley in 1946, where he completed his Ph.D. and joined the Berkeley faculty in 1951. For his thesis he mapped a large area of the Sierra Nevada near Markleeville and Topaz Lake and investigated the origins of the extensive andesitic breccia deposits of the Mehrten Formation. As a member of the Katmai Project (1953 & 1954), he helped reinterpret the 1912 eruption in a modern volcanological framework and isopached the medial pumice-fall deposits, proving that Novarupta (not Mount Katmai) was their source vent. He was a pioneer in K-Ar dating, first at the University, later as founder of the Berkeley Geochronology Center. His ages calibrated the Tertiary land-mammal stages of North and South America and the fossil hominid stratigraphy of East Africa and of Homo erectus in Java. Curtis is also an authority on the geology of the Berkeley Hills, where he taught field methods to generations of geologists. He returned to Katmai with the authors (Hildreth and Fierstein, 2012, fig. 14) in 2003, the 50th anniversary of his initial summer in the VTTS.

Background: The explosive eruption of 6:8 June 1912 was the 20th Century:s largest. Ash flows filled what became the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS). Ash carried by stratospheric winds spanned North America and fell as far east as the Mediterranean. Mount Katmai collapsed, forming a deep caldera now filled by a lake. Expeditions funded by the National Geographic Society (1915-1919) made Katmai famous, but its remoteness left the area otherwise virtually unvisited until the 1950s.

Katmai Project: In 1918 Katmai National Monument had been proclaimed and assigned to National Park Service administration, but the remote area was virtually neglected until 1950 when the first ranger was stationed there for the summer. In 1953, the National Park Service proposed to the Office of Naval Research comprehensive investigation of Katmai National Monument, in part to help prepare a master plan for management and interpretation. Studies were planned to include geography, climate, glaciers, coastal geomorphology, flora, fauna, entomology, soils, volcanic activity, regional geology, mineral resources, and archaeology. Scientists from the USGS, Public Health Service, and five universities eventually took part. Eruption of Trident (adjacent to Mount Katmai), beginning in February, helped draw the attention of the military, which provided rations, rifles, radios, field equipment and clothing, air transport, and even a helicopter. Beginning 19 June, field camps were outfitted on upper Knife Creek (VTTS), Kukak Bay, Brooks Lake, and near the site of Savonoski. Project headquarters on the Air Force Base at King Salmon was open all summer, closing for the season on 7 October.

For the volcanological part of the Project, Howel Williams, Garniss Curtis, Ronald W. Kistler, and Rolf Werner Juhle (Hildreth and Fierstein, 2012, fig. 10) spent the last two weeks of June, camped on upper Knife Creek, reconnoitering the VTTS, Trident, and Mount Katmai. Correcting early misinterpretations, they concluded that 1912 vents were not beneath the VTTS but at its head, that 1912 andesitic and rhyolitic magmas erupted simultaneously and mingled, that andesitic magma did not originate by fusion of older rocks by the rhyolitic magma, and that most fumaroles issued from the valley-filling ignimbrite sheet itself, not from an imagined sill or batholith beneath the valley.

In 1954 Garniss Curtis returned to the Knife Creek campsite in summer 1954, assisted alone by Jack Sheehan. Initial investigators had assumed that most of the stratified fallout was ejected from Mount Katmai, even though they realized that the thickest and coarsest ejecta surrounded Novarupta. They believed that some subordinate fraction of the fallout had erupted at or near Novarupta, but Curtis keyed on the fact that they had never developed criteria to distinguish products of the two postulated vents. So Curtis subdivided the stratified fallout into eight principal layers, measured 30 sections between Novarupta and Mount Katmai, and showed that all eight thickened toward Novarupta, their true source vent. He was first to propose hydraulic interconnection between the collapsed caldera and the main vent at Novarupta, 10 km away. As for the ignimbrite, Curtis recognized that it had come from Novarupta basin, and he noted its gross compositional zonation, from rhyolite-rich distally to rhyolite-poor in the upper VTTS. He showed that the abundant compositionally banded pumice owed to the mingling of concurrently erupted fluid magmas of different composition. Observing blocks of eutaxitic welded tuff ejected phreatically from deep in the ignimbrite and noting the differential compaction across the upper VTTS, Curtis constructed profiles for other nearby stream valleys and concluded by comparison that valley-filling ignimbrite in the VTTS might be more than 200 m thick. His 11-km3 volume estimate for the 120-km2 ash-flow sheet filling the VTTS remains as good as the uncertainties warrant, even after decades more of detailed studies.

On the 50th anniversary of Curtis' first trip to the VTTS in 1953, he joined Hildreth and Fierstein at Katmai in celebration of their own 20-season project there, published in the monograph cited above. Garniss: own work at Katmai was published in detail in: Curtis, G.H., 1968, The stratigraphy of the ejecta from the 1912 eruption of Mount Katmai and Novarupta, Alaska, in Coats, R.R., Hay, R.L., and Anderson, C.A., eds., Studies in Volcanology: Geological Society of America Memoir 116, p. 153:210.

Bill Harrison

Garniss has been a friend for many years. Tho we have lived miles apart, we usually were together at the men's monthly lunch meetings held somewhere in the Bay Area as well as on many other occasions. Garniss is to me what " youth is all about". He had a youthful spirit and mind,which transcended any biological clock and was an inspiration to us all. Subsequent to our move to Billings,MT in early 2010,I talked to Garniss on occasion, but only saw him on rare visits to the Bay Area.God how I miss him! We could talk about anything- Politics,Education,Geology,Anthropology,Archaeology, Re-producing Dinosaurs you name it! And his enthusiasm was contagious.And on top of all this he was a loving,warm ,human being.Always in the here and now. When I joined the UC Berkeley Faculty Club, Garniss was there to sponsor me. My wife Doris and I shall always love and cherish our friendship with Garniss, and we miss him dearly.

Mu Zhiguo Peking University

I met Garniss for the first time at U. C. Berkeley in 1982. I studied geochronology from him and since then, up to the time of his passing in 2012, we kept in contact with each other. So I can say: We were master-apprentice and intimate friends for 30 years.

During my stay at U.C. Berkeley, I learned techniques on age-dating from Garniss and I also cooperated with him on research on the Tengchong volcano in China. When we discussed the research results, Garniss emphasized: The Tengchong volcano is a dormant volcano, not an extinct volcano. There might be eruptions in the future. Up to now, Tengchong has remained quiet, but series of earthquakes have occurred around the Tengchong volcano area and contiguous zone for several years.

A spare-time occupation for Garniss was that of teaching me to drive a car.

Garniss was tireless in teaching others and was happy to render helps to others. Garniss was a noble-minded person. In the early days of the 1980s, China reform and openness was only beginning and facing some difficulties. Garniss gravely said to me: China will be one of the strongest countries in the world in 20 years.

When I completed my course and was planning on going back China, Garniss gave me isotope spikes, age-standard samples and a set of personal computers (Commodore 64 ) and also helped me to buy a isotope spike container. Garniss asked me to make an age-dating lab after I returned China. I complied with Garniss' wishes, a whole set of K-Ar dating lab including conventional K-Ar method and laser microprobe Ar-Ar dating system, all new from the ground up, was established in the Peking University from 1984 to 2002.

Garniss and I met many times at international congresses and at the homes of our both of our families, before and after I retired in 2002. In the summer of 2010, I took my family, including my wife, my daughter and my a grandson Matthew on a trip to Berkeley to visit Garniss. We had a very nice time. Garniss guided us through the campus of U.C. Berkeley including the Bell Tower, the Library, the Earth Science Building and the Botanical Garden. We drove to the Yosemite National Park. Garniss was very happy to answer one question after another from little boy Matthew. On that trip, Garniss-91 years old and Matthew-10 years old, became the best of friends despite the great difference of age. When we said good- bye Garniss asked Matthew to learn Chinese well.

I wish I could tell Garniss: Matthew won a Hua Xia award in a Chinese contest in Houston 2012.

John Kleppe

Garniss Curtis was an unusual and dynamic man who was creative, curious, and brilliant. He loved the scientific method and was quick to ask for proof of any hypothesis. Garniss was a true professor in that he was able to conduct significant research projects while maintaining his ability to teach and guide students.

I have many fond memories of Garniss, especially his visits with me at Fallen Leaf Lake, where we each found tremendous inspiration in the geology, geography, and history of the area. In particular, I remember well the hours we spent talking about our current research interests and activities. He always asked the most difficult and revealing questions, and this in turn inspired me to clarify my own thoughts. It meant so much to me that Garniss supported my ideas and encouraged me to continue with my research.

I miss hearing Garniss tell me stories about his long and interesting career at UC Berkeley; I miss attending the Bach Soloist concerts with him in San Francisco; I miss sharing a walk on the glacier moraines of Fallen Leaf Lake; and, of course, I miss him expounding the virtues of the paper bag apple pie.

Juliana Kleppe

Garniss was a dear friend. He was brilliant and, at the same time, he was most humble. Upon our first meeting, he did not ask me what I did, but rather "What is your avocation?" Our friendship blossomed. We had a wonderful exchange on subjects in common and he introduced me to many new ones. He gave me the extraordinary gift of Bach Soloists and we always attended the pre-lecture together. Now he is the angel on my shoulder telling me to make time for this before each performance.
My most memorable experience with Garniss (and there were so many) was my birthday gift a few years ago. He took me to lunch at the Cliff House and then off on a geological excursion to Point Reyes. I was the driver and he was the teacher. He had given me a rock pick and a loupe. Every so often he suddenly would yell "Stop!" He would point at a particular site and instruct me to collect samples. At one point, I mentioned we might be trespassing, but naturally he told me "not to worry about it." When my samples were too small, I was sent back for more. I treasure this collection. After our grand adventure, we returned to San Francisco in the evening. Exhausted from our long and exciting day, I watched in admiration as he very nearly skipped onto BART with surprising energy. I usually shared Garniss with my husband and others, however on this day he was mine alone.

Roger Christiansen AAAS

It is with great sadness that we report that Garniss Curtis, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, founder of the Berkeley Geochronology Center, and former President of the Pacific Division of AAAS died on December 19, 2012 in his home in Orinda, Calif. He was 93.

Curtis, a native Californian and specialist in geology, received both his undergraduate degree in mining engineering (1942) and his doctorate in geology (1951) at the University of California, Berkeley, following which he continued at Berkeley as a professor until his retirement in 1989. In his 38 years teaching at UC Berkeley, Curtis pioneered the use of the potassium-argon dating method. Working with Berkeley professors Jack Evernden, a seismologist and John Reynolds, a physicist, Curtis showed that it was possible with modern equipment to date things much younger and more accurately than was previously possible. In 1961 he was able to, by dating the volcanic ash immediately above and below, assign an age of 1.85 million years to Mary Leakey's 1959 find of Zinjanthropus boisei (later renamed Paranthropus boisei), pushing its age back almost 1 million years.

Following his retirement in 1989, Curtis collaborated with paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson at the Institute of Human Origins in Berkeley. Here, Curtis established The Berkeley Geochronology Center to continue his work with potassium-argon dating and a refinement called argon-argon dating. He and his colleagues provided dates for Johanson's discoveries of human ancestors in Africa, most notably the famed Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis, 3.2 million years old), and Tim White's almost as famous Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus, 4.4 million years old), as well as dates for additional discoveries by Mary and Richard Leakey and others. A late 1990s collaboration with Berkeley geologist Carl Swisher jolted the paleoanthropologist community by demonstrating that Homo erectus persisted in Asia until about 50,000 years ago, meaning that Homo erectus and Homo sapiens co-existed for a period of time and that human lineage isn't a straight line but has dead end branches off of it. The Berkeley Geochronology Center became independent of the institute in 1994, and is today one of the top laboratories for dating in the world.

In 1999, Curtis was elected President-elect of the Pacific Division of AAAS, serving as president from June 2000 - June 2001. He continued to strongly support the Division and attend its annual meetings through the 2007 meeting in Boise, Idaho. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the 2008 meeting in Hawaii, or any subsequent meetings. He also was recipient of the coveted AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, which is awarded to the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of Science.

Garniss was indeed a gentleman and had a depth of geological knowledge matched by few, as well as a wealth of stories about his various colleagues with whom he worked over so many years of his life. His passing is a great loss to us all, and he will be sorely missed.

Roland Gangloff

Garniss began to mentor me in the spring of 1960 when I took the introductory field geology course that he conducted in the Berkeley hills. I was a senior in Paleontology and had transferred to U.C. Berkeley in the fall of 1958 from Orange Coast Community College. I had taken introductory physical and historical geology prior to transferring, but had very little exposure to field geology prior to coming to Berkeley. Those Saturdays in the Berkeley hills with Garniss changed the way I would forever see the earth. From the first early morning gathering of the class to the writing of the final report with attendant geologic map, Garniss challenged me physically and mentally in a way that laid the foundation for a successful life as a researcher and teacher. Garniss constantly had us ask why the rocks, the topography, and vegetation would change as we traversed the hills and valleys. We had numerous spot quizzes all through the day. Some focused on the use of the Brunton compass and the attitude of the beds as well as our ability to keep track of where we were on the map. But most importantly, Garniss kept asking if we were seeing the 'big picture.'

I had planned to extend my field geology experience by taking the summer field course in the Westgard Pass area of the White Mountains. Instead, Garniss recommended me for the new NSF field assistant program that assigned me as the field assistant to Ted McKee. This had a profound impact on my future in the geosciences. Not only was I not having to come up with the money for the formal geology course, I was going to earn a stipend. In addition, I was going to be in the spectacular western Great Basin, just north of Death Valley, for almost three months rather than the six weeks that the formal course required.

At the end of my time with Ted McKee, I had met J. Wyatt Durham who became my most influential mentor in paleontology. Due to my time in the Magruder Mountain and Silver Peak area, I also was introduced to a new passion - the study of Archaeocyths and their paleoecology. With the encouragement of Wyatt Durham and Ted McKee, I now set my course for a Master's program that included the field and lab study of Archaeocyaths that eventually led to a Ph.D. and field and lab research in France, Sardinia, Canada, Alaska, and Siberia with attendant published scholarly papers.

During my M.A. thesis field work in the Westgard Pass area, Garniss, again, significantly impacted my career trajectory. My field work was facilitated by Garniss who invited me to partake of the summer camp kitchen for my meals while mapping and collecting archaeocyaths in June and July of 1962. It was during this stay at the field camp that I came across the first specimen of heretofore unknown early Cambrian echinoderm. It wasn't until Wyatt Durham and I collected several complete specimens near one of my archaeocyath localities, that we both recognized that we were seeing evidence of an early bizarre experiment in the echinoderms. The best specimens became the holotypes of Helicoplacus curtisi and H. gilberti, and these now represented a new class division of the phylum Echinodermata.

My first year as an instructor at Merritt College, in 1963-64 brought me into the Bodega Head controversy that raged over PG&E's plan to construct a nuclear power plant. My Merritt colleague and I had visited the Head and reactor site several times and concluded that the geologic evidence for faulting and the shear forces along the adjacent San Andreas Fault zone countered the findings of PG&E's consultants. Eventually, Garniss visited the Head and came to very similar conclusions. Again, Garniss' admonitions to always question why and to follow up with detailed field work before arriving at a conclusion impacted my career. Subsequent work by the U.S.G.S. supported our contentions that faults and the sheared and broken nature of the granitic bedrock greatly questioned the ultimate safety of an atomic reactor and power station. George Hilton and I took our students on field trips to Bodega Head for some 20 years and used the controversy as a teaching scenario in our physical geography and geology classes.

Garniss' convergence/influence on my career and life didn't end in the '60s. His and Jack Evernden's work with Reynold's K-A lab at Cal trained and directed the careers of numerous students, who in turn, impacted my career as far as the late 1990s. In 1987, I took a position as Associate Professor and Curator of Earth Sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. It was there that I reconnected with Don Turner, who took field geology with me, and was now running the K-A lab at the Geophysical Institute on campus. My research soon took a whole new direction--the documentation of the dinosaur record in Alaska and the neighboring Yukon Territory. As a result, I reconnected with Ted McKee and John Obradovich who were trained in the U.C. K-A lab and were student contemporaries of mine. Both refined the geochronology of the dinosaur-rich rock sequence on the North Slope of Alaska that had been the central focus of my research while at U.A. Fairbanks. This does not end my convergence with Garniss Curtis.

In 2000-2003, I found myself a paleontological consultant with the National Park Service in Alaska. As a result, I also found myself doing field work at Katmai National Park and Preserve. While working in Katmai, I researched the preceding literature and reminded myself of Garniss' work on the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and Novarupta. Garniss had discussed his work at Katmai and the 1912 eruption relating it to his hypotheses regarding the formation of the Berkeley Hills. Garniss' field work at Katmai brought him into disagreement with earlier work regarding the size and power of the 1912 eruptions. Garniss finally was able to publish his conclusions in 1968 after starting the project in 1951. He had been shanghaied(my wording) by his good friend and fellow student-co-professor Jack Evernden to help develop K-A dating.

Garniss Curtis, first and foremost a field geologist, also a noted volcanologist, and a geochronologist, but even more, an outstanding mentor-teacher that gave substance to John McPhee's musings in his book: Basin and Ranges 'Geologists inhabit scenes that no one ever saw, scenes of global sweep, gone and gone again, including seas, mountains, rivers, forests, and archipelagos of aching beauty, rising in volcanic violence to settle down quietly and forever disappear- almost disappear'

Ivo Lucchitta

Garniss Curtis. A name. But, what is a name? A name is a vessel containing experiences and memories that describe the person owning the name. Experiences and memories that it is our task and duty to collect and cherish because it is in them and through them that a deceased friend continues to live long after death. Who, then, was Garniss Curtis? Reconstructing him is not an simple task because he was not a simple personality, one to be assembled with just a few strokes of pen or brush. But certain characteristics are of the essence and do stand out.

•Intelligence. Yes, by all means, intelligence. You could see it in his eyes, you could see it in the restless manner in which he asked questions and sought to get answers.

•Curiosity, the daughter of intelligence. There are few things that Garniss was not interested in and did not want to find out about. These things were not restricted to the domain of science, either, but ranged over a wide field of natural phenomena and human attributes. As an example, my wife tells me that one time when she and Garniss were walking out of the Grand Canyon after a stint of geologic field work with me, he emerged from the chasm stating the exact number of paces it had taken him to walk up the trail. Most people would not even think of doing the counting, let alone keeping track of the number.

•Pragmatism. Garniss was interested not only in asking questions, but also in figuring out ways to answer them. A good example of this would be his working out procedures for determining precisely the age of early hominids, a subject of great interest to him.

•Wide ranging interests, which were by no means limited to matters of science. Architecture clearly was one such interest, well illustrated by the remarkable rotunda of Italianate Renaissance style that was built into his house. Rotundas are not exactly a commonplace in American private houses.

•Music definitely was one of the extracurricular loves. I fondly remember Garniss and me spending the better part of a day in his rotunda listening to a big chunk of Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas. It was heaven. Another time we did a similar thing while camping in Arizona's desert, to the considerable dismay of a mutual friend who has little use for Wagner the person or for his ideas, and therefore for his music. Garniss and I felt, however, that the art that a person produces can and must be separated from the personality of the creator, which can be quite reprehensible. The muse and the creator are not one and the same.

•Self-confidence, maybe even overconfidence. Garniss was pretty sure of the rightness of his thinking, and did not suffer fools gladly, 'fools' being mostly people who did not agree with him. In this he was perhaps the typical professor, so used to inculcating the truth into his students. This confidence extended into the physical realm, as shown by his insisting that he could walk down a long and steep trail into the Grand Canyon when in his seventies and with no damage to his knees. Unfortunately, those knees were in fact damaged quite severely, as were his arm and shoulder when he was dumped into a rapid of the Colorado River by an incompetent boatman. I'm not sure Garniss ever accepted age-related physical limitations.

I think Garniss could be quite severe with those whose worth he questioned, but to those who made it into his circle of acceptance, there seemed to be no limit to his friendliness and generosity. This is something that we who managed to become his friends remember and will remember with gratitude mixed with a substantial measure of astonishment. Garniss, THE Garniss, was our friend?!

So, dear Garniss, you will be with us for as long as we are there to remember and cherish you, we who have had the good fortune and pleasure of knowing you and thus enjoying he many facets of your spirit. Walk in beauty, my friend.

Carol Travis-Henikoff

Garniss Hearfield Curtis was born in 1919 in a community north of San Francisco Bay. When he was two years of age his father left the marriage. Garniss didn't see his father again until many decades later.

From his earliest years Garniss exhibited an extremely intelligent and alert mind.

Without his father, Garniss' mother had very little money so in order to save money and stay in their house she gave up watering the lawn and let it die; in time their backyard was nothing but bare dirt strewn with large rocks and boulders - a few of them quite large in size.

Around the age of three Garniss became fascinated with the rocks in the back yard and tried to move them from one place to another. Most were too heavy for him to carry or even push out of position. One day he took a stick and tried to push a rock with it but the stick slid down the side of the rock and dug into the dirt beneath it. Garniss pushed down on the end of the stick and the rock moved. From that day forth Garniss improved his methods of moving rocks with ever bigger sticks and then various pieces of wood until he managed to move every rock in the back yard - then he took on the boulders; eventually he was able to move even the largest boulder, 'I would spend an entire day moving the largest boulder from one end of the yard to the other.'

Garniss Hearfield Curtis Ph.D. went onto to become a professor of geology at U.C. Berkeley, a world-class geologist and one of the fathers of Geochronology.

Neil Gilbert

My memories of Garniss Curtis begin with geology field camp as an undergraduate. It was a grueling experience, with Garniss leading the pace, but was a valuable exposure to field geology that likely is not reproduced or reproducible today.

As a graduate student, I worked under Garniss as a research assistant in the K-A lab and my thesis was devoted in part to K-A dating and, of course, field geology. After a short stint in the oil business, I returned to CAL to study engineering and, after graduating, began a career with an engineering consulting company. Shortly after beginning that job, I was assigned to do field mapping for a proposed nuclear facility. It was the skills that I learned from Garniss years before that made it possible for me to succeed.

For many years after relocating to North Carolina, my wife and I would make it a point to visit Garniss at his new, off-campus facility when we made our trips to the Bay Area. Like many, I was saddened to learn of Garniss''s passing. It was my privilege to have known an outstanding geologist, teacher and person.

Frank Huffman Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California Berkeley

I have not known Garniss well, but three times he played key roles in my geological career:

The first instance takes me back to a late afternoon in 1962. Frank Brown, John Proffett and I were striding full pace down Strawberry Canyon road, as our class headed back to the Department after a mapping session in the Berkeley Hills. The three of us, all 19 year olds, were scarcely keeping up with Garniss, despite being taller and younger than he was. This baffled us for some moments, but then we saw that this 'old man' had a particular swing to his hips that we lacked. We strived to mimic his walking style, as we already had his geological thinking. I continue to find myself drawing upon his field lessons even now, 50 years later.

The second key instance finds me sitting in Garniss' Department office in 1970 after he'd read a bloated first draft of my dissertation. His well-targeted guidance that afternoon allowed me to get out of Berkeley with dispatch. Pare this down, Garniss said, into something publishable in the GSA Bulletin, which I did with surprising ease, and then, he advised, resubmit the dissertation after you've gotten a job and had the paper accepted. It happened just this way.

The last of the three key moments dates from a 1996 visit to the Berkeley Geochronological Center. I'd just retired after 25 years in petroleum business, and was intrigued with geoarchaeology, as it applied especially to Homo erectus in Java, where Garniss had worked himself. He seemed baffled about why I want to do such a thing, but talking with him that day helped me go ahead with my plan. Another turning point in my geological career.