Remembering Parke Snavely
Parke D. Snavely, Jr., Emeritus Geologist and Influential Leader of USGS Marine Studies, Passes Away
On November 24, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) emeritus geologist Parke D. Snavely, Jr., passed away as a result of complications following a stroke. Parke, who was 84, had a long and distinguished career with the USGS spanning nearly 60 years.
Parke's geologic mapping of the Cenozoic rocks of the Oregon and Washington Coast Ranges is classic work. Begun in 1946 and continuing through the mid-1990s, it provided the basic geologic and tectonic framework both onshore and offshore.
Field studies by Parke and his Fuels Branch colleagues established the Centralia-Chehalis coal district as a major energy resource, which now sustains a large generating plant supplying electrical power to the Puget Sound area.
Parke also popularized his geologic findings in a series of guidebooks outlining the geology of the Oregon coast.
Though done largely in support of energy-resource evaluations, his mapping is now being applied to the study of seismic hazards and other problems in the forearc of the Cascadia subduction zone. In this zone, which runs from offshore northern California to offshore British Columbia, the oceanic Juan de Fuca Plate is being subducted beneath the continental North American Plate. Parke's efforts to correlate onshore geology with offshore marine data were a life-long research interest, and his numerous onshore-offshore geologic profiles of the Cascadia margin provide unique insight into its evolution.
Parke's broad interests were reflected in his position as a research geologist in both the Branch of Pacific Marine Geology and the Branch of Western Regional Geology. He served as Chief of the Pacific Coast Branch of Regional Geology, where one of his memorable assignments was to have Tom Dibblee map the San Andreas Fault south of San Francisco.
Parke was instrumental in establishing a marine program for the USGS as its first Chief of the Office of Marine Geology and Hydrology. He initiated international cooperative research programs with the governments of Canada, Spain, Liberia, Japan, and Taiwan.
Parke also acted as an external advisor to academia, supported student and faculty research, and worked with an array of industry, State, and USGS colleagues to establish the igneous history, stratigraphic framework, and oil-and-gas potential of the Pacific Northwest coast.
Parke's first love was fieldwork, and he was proud to have received the Dibblee Foundation's Dibblee Medal for his significant contributions to geologic mapping. He also was a recipient of the Department of the Interior's Distinguished Service Award, the highest departmental award that can be granted an employee.
Parke was a mentor to many young geologists, who will miss his wise counsel. Parke is survived by his wife of 61 years, Anne, daughters Pamela and Deborah, son Parke III (a geologist with ExxonMobil), four grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
No services are planned. Contributions in Parke's name may be sent to the Geological Society of America's "Parke D. Snavely, Jr., Cascadia Research Award," a newly established endowment fund to provide support for student research, at this address: GSA Foundation, P.O. Box 9140, Boulder, CO 80301-9140.
in this issue: Seamount Environments off California
Parke Snavely Passes Away