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Scientific Leader and Researcher Terry Edgar Retires


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Terry Edgar
Above: Terry Edgar.

Geologist Terry Edgar is retiring from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) after 30 years as a leader in the agency's coastal and marine geology program.

Terry received his Ph.D. in 1968 from Columbia University. His early research focused on characterizing the structure and distribution of oceanic sediment and the Earth's upper crust with seismic reflection and refraction surveys. Terry published the first comprehensive study of the acoustic properties and thickness of sediment in the Pacific Ocean, which demonstrated that the crust of the Pacific Basin is progressively older from east to west.

Terry became a scientific leader early in his career. When the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) was being formulated in the late 1960s, Terry was instrumental in setting the scientific priorities and plans for this important and high-visibility effort in the Earth sciences. While he was still a graduate student, Terry prepared the proposal that outlined the scientific objectives and drilling sites for the initial DSDP legs in the Atlantic Ocean. His proposal was used as a model for choosing the initial DSDP cruises and sites in the Pacific Ocean. Terry joined DSDP in 1968 as a staff scientist. He was co-chief scientist for the first DSDP cruise across the Atlantic and soon became chief scientist of the entire program. Terry guided the program through its formative years and laid the foundation for management and structure of DSDP and it successor, the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP).

In 1975, the USGS hired Terry to develop and lead its programs in marine geology. As Chief of the Office of Marine Geology, Terry was responsible for directing programs involving the resource potential, environmental setting, and overall geologic framework of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Alaskan continental margins and adjacent deep-water areas. In addition to his leadership in formulating and conducting scientific programs, Terry played a major role in providing advice to the Departments of the Interior and State with regard to offshore-international-boundary issues and offshore-resource policy.

In 1983, Terry stepped down as Chief of the Office of Marine Geology and returned to research. His first major effort was in the Caribbean, where he planned and implemented a study of the region's geology and tectonics. The project advanced our understanding of the complex plate margins and tectonics of the Caribbean region and provided an extensive sidescan-sonar survey of the Cayman Trough. After completion of the Caribbean project, Terry developed a major multidisciplinary project to explore the interaction of tectonics, eustasy, and climate on the morphology and characteristics of sedimentary deposits. The Predictive Stratigraphic Analyses project focused on sedimentary deposits across a climatic gradient that extended from the Appalachian Mountains to Death Valley. The principles developed in North America were then applied to understanding sedimentary sequences and associated mineral and energy resources in Southeast Asia.

Terry revisited management assignments for several years—serving as the Regional Program Scientist and then as Acting Chief of what is now the St. Petersburg Science Center in St. Petersburg, Fla.—until he quickly regained his senses and returned to research. His current official work is divided between a wetlands-coring and surface-sediment effort within the Tampa Bay Estuary Project and the assessment of natural and anthropogenic variations in mercury in lake sediment along a transect from Florida to New England.

It is fitting that much of Terry's unofficial work over the last few years has involved developing an interdisciplinary and multinational science plan to sample and analyze sediment from the Gulf of Carpentaria (on Australia's north coast) to the Gulf of Thailand as part of the new Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), a large multinational program that is the grandson of DSDP (see "Proposal for Drilling in the Broad, Shallow Seas of Southeast Asia and Australia" in Sound Waves, September 2002). Many of the principles and procedures employed by IODP were pioneered by Terry and his colleagues when they developed DSDP from an idea into a functioning and highly successful program. So, at the end of his career, Terry has come back to the beginning.

Terry's contributions, leadership, and dedication to the USGS and the field of marine geology are well recognized and exemplify an outstanding career. We wish him well!

Related Sound Waves Stories
Proposal for Drilling in the Broad, Shallow Seas of Southeast Asia and Australia
September 2002

Related Web Sites
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs
Ocean Drilling Program
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Deep Sea Drilling Project
Encyclopedia.com
Historical and prehistorical record of Tampa Bay Environment - USGS Open-File Report 01-422
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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in this issue: Fieldwork
cover story:
Monitoring Hurricane Wilma's Storm Surge

Research Study Suggests Abalones Owe Their Huge Size to Sea Otters

Outreach Hurricane Exhibit Highlights USGS Science

Staff Terry Edgar Retires

Gene Shinn Retires

Taiwanese Scientists Visit the WCMG Team

Andrew Stevens Joins WCMG Team

Publications New Book on Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting

February 2006 Publications List


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