Nelson Horatio Darton

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Nelson Horatio Darton
Nelson Horatio Darton.jpg
Darton in about 1895
Born (1865-12-17)17 December 1865
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died 1948
Washington, DC, USA
Nationality United States
Fields Marine Geology
Institutions US Geological Survey
Alma mater California Institute of Technology and Harvard University

Nelson Horatio Darton (1865 – 1948) was a geologist who worked for the United States Geological Survey. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and started working in his uncle's drug business at the age of 13, also becoming a practicing chemist. His interest in geology started as a sideline, and he was hired by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1886.

Darton was an expert at geological photography, a noted geologic map maker, and a hydrogeologist. He was awarded the Penrose Medal in 1940. He also made some important paleontological discoveries.

He retired in 1936 at the age of 71 but was allowed to keep his office at the USGS, and he continued an active geological career with a focus on the geology of the Washington DC area. He produced more than 200 publications and received many honors and awards. Three weeks before he died in 1948, he was still coming daily to the USGS and gave a lecture to the Geological Society of Washington on the geology of the DC area. [1] [2] [3] [4]


  • Preliminary report on the geology and underground water resources of the central Great Plains U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 32(1905)
  • Geology of the Owl Creek Mountains, with notes on resources of adjoining regions in the ceded portion of the Shoshone Indian Reservation, Wyoming United States 59th Congress, Senate Document no. 219, (1906)
  • Description of Bald Mountain and Dayton quadrangles, Wyoming U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Atlas, folio 141 (1906)
  • Description of Cloud Peak and Fort McKinney quadrangles, Wyoming U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Atlas, folio 142 (1906)
  • Geology of the Bighorn Mountains U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 51 (1906)
  • Geology and underground waters of the Arkansas Valley in eastern Colorado U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 52 (1906)
  • Paleozoic and Mesozoic of central Wyoming:. Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 19, p. 403–470 (1908)
  • Geology and water resources of the northern portion of the Black Hills and adjoining regions in South Dakota and Wyoming U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 65 (1909)
  • Description of the Laramie and Sherman quadrangles, Wyoming with E. Blackwelder, and C.E. Siebenthal U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Atlas, folio 173 (1910)
  • Description of the central Black Hills, South Dakota with S. Paige U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Atlas, folio 219 (1925)


  1. ^ King, P.B., Memorial to Nelson Horatio Darton (1865-1948), Geological Society of America Proceedings, 145-170. 1949
  2. ^ Nelson Horatio Darton biography at the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program website
  3. ^ Repeat Historical Photography of Twentieth Century Vegetation Change in Wyoming and Montana
  4. ^ Snoke, Arthur W. Nelson Horatio Darton: the quintessential reconnaissance geologist of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains Rocky Mountain Geology; October 2003; v. 38; no. 2; p. 283-287; doi:10.2113/gsrocky.38.2.283