Amos Salvador (1923-2007)

SalvadorDr. Amos Salvador, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, well known for his contributions to stratigraphic classification, research on the Gulf of Mexico, and writings on the future of energy resources, died Dec. 2, 2007 of complications from pneumonia and a malignant brain tumor. He was 84.

Editor of the second edition of the International Stratigraphic Guide (1994) and co-editor of an abridged version, Salvador contributed to international agreement on principles of stratigraphic classification, making possible greater communication, coordination, and understanding of some of geology’s fundamental systems of classification.

After retiring from teaching at The University of Texas at Austin in 1993, Salvador continued his work on stratigraphic classification and pursued research estimating consumption and possible sources of energy in the 21st century.

His energy research culminated in the publication of Energy: A Historical Perspective and 21st Century Forecast (2005). The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) honored the book and Salvador with the Robert H. Dott Sr. Memorial Award in 2006, given to the author or editor of the best special publication dealing with geology published by AAPG.

Another of Salvador’s major accomplishments was editing The Gulf of Mexico Basin (1991), part of the Geological Society of America’s Decade of North American Geology Series. Salvador wrote major chapters for the volume synthesizing a wide variety of geological data for the Gulf of Mexico Basin. The work has been a standard reference since publication.

In recent years, Salvador made it a mission to protest efforts to eliminate the Tertiary and Quaternary periods from official classifications of the geologic time scale. Although the Tertiary and Quaternary are widely accepted as periods within the present geologic era of the Cenozoic, in 2004 the International Commission on Stratigraphy published time scales eliminating both terms. Salvador contended this was folly and that “the Tertiary and the Quaternary are here to stay,” so long as geologists continue to use the terms, which he showed was the case.

Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1923, Salvador spent part of his youth in Havana, Cuba, where his father was stationed at the Spanish Embassy during the period of the Second Spanish Republic. When the Republic fell to Franco’s Nationalists, Salvador’s family moved to Venezuela, where he earned his B.S. in geology from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1945.

In Venezuela Salvador worked for Mene Grande Oil Company, a Venezuelan subsidiary of Gulf Oil, where he had the good fortune to be guided and advised by Hollis D. Hedberg, the famous Gulf Oil exploration geologist who later taught at Princeton University. Hedberg advised him to earn his Ph.D. from Stanford University, which he completed in 1950. Salvador and his wife, Lynn Sherwood, were married that same year following their graduation from Stanford.

From 1950-55, Salvador worked for Gulf Oil out of New York as a regional and surface geologist covering North Africa, Europe, and South America. He left Gulf Oil in 1955 to work for Creole Petroleum Corporation, an affiliate of Esso (now ExxonMobil) in Venezuela and from then until 1980 worked for several Esso affiliates retiring as chief geologist of Exxon Company, U.S.A. in 1980.

Salvador and his wife moved to Austin in 1980 when he accepted a position with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. At The University of Texas at Austin, he was first the Alexander Deussen Professor of Energy Resources and, after 1990, the Morgan J. Davis Professor of Petroleum Geology. The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences recognized Salvador’s dedicated teaching by awarding him the Houston Oil & Minerals Corporation Faculty Excellence Award in 1988.