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Robert S. Dietz

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Robert S. Dietz
Robert S. Dietz (1961)
Robert Sinclair Dietz

(1914-09-14)September 14, 1914
DiedMay 19, 1995(1995-05-19) (aged 80)
Tempe, Arizona, United States
EducationWestfield High School
Occupation(s)geophysicist and oceanographer
Known forresearch in seafloor spreading
Notable workfirst to recognize the Sudbury Basin as an ancient impact event
AwardsBarringer Medal (1985)

Robert Sinclair Dietz (September 14, 1914 – May 19, 1995) was a scientist with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Dietz, born in Westfield, New Jersey,[1] was a marine geologist, geophysicist and oceanographer who conducted pioneering research along with Harry Hammond Hess concerning seafloor spreading, published as early as 1960–1961. While at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography he observed the nature of the Emperor chain of seamounts that extended from the northwest end of the Hawaiian IslandMidway chain and speculated over lunch with Robert Fisher in 1953 that something must be carrying these old volcanic mountains northward like a conveyor belt.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born and raised in Westfield, New Jersey, Dietz graduated in 1932 from Westfield High School.[3]


In later work he became interested in meteorite impacts, was the first to recognize the Sudbury Basin as an ancient impact event, and discovered a number of other impact craters.[4] He championed the use of shatter cones as evidence for ancient impact structures. He received the Walter H. Bucher Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 1971, the Barringer Medal from the Meteoritical Society in 1985 and the Penrose Medal from the Geological Society of America in 1988.

Dietz was an outspoken critic of creationism, and was the faculty advisor of two student groups at Arizona State University in 1985, Americans Promoting Evolution Science (APES) and the Phoenix Skeptics. Dietz spoke on evolution and creationism at meetings of these groups,[5] and debated creationist Walter Brown and Christian apologist William Lane Craig at Arizona State University.


Dietz died in Tempe, Arizona.[1]

Minor planet 4666 Dietz is named in his honor.[6]

Robert S. Dietz lectures[edit]

The ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration sponsors annual Robert S. Dietz Memorial Public Lectures, which have been given by:

Selected publications[edit]

  • Dietz, Robert S. (1994). "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Life and Times of a Journeyman Geologist". Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. 22: 1–32. Bibcode:1994AREPS..22....1D. doi:10.1146/annurev.ea.22.050194.000245.
  • Dietz, Robert S.; John C. Holden (scientific illustrator) (1987). Creation/Evolution Satiricon: Creationism Bashed. Winthrop, WA: Bookmaker.
  • Dietz, Robert S. (Nov–Dec 1983). "In Defense of Drift". The Sciences. 23 (6): 26. doi:10.1002/j.2326-1951.1983.tb02661.x.
  • Dietz, Robert S. (1964). Sudbury Structure as an Astrobleme. University of Chicago.
  • Dietz, Robert S. (3 June 1961). "Continent and Ocean Basin Evolution by Spreading of the Sea Floor". Nature. 190 (4779): 854–857. Bibcode:1961Natur.190..854D. doi:10.1038/190854a0. S2CID 4288496.
  • Dietz, Robert S. (1954). "Marine geology of northwestern Pacific: description of Japanese bathymetric chart 6901". Bull. Geol. Soc. Am. 65 (12): 1199. Bibcode:1954GSAB...65.1199D. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(1954)65[1199:MGONPD]2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0016-7606.
  • Menard, Henry W.; Dietz, Robert S. (May 1952). "Mendocino submarine escarpment". Journal of Geology. 60 (3): 266–278. Bibcode:1952JG.....60..266M. doi:10.1086/625962. JSTOR 30058194. S2CID 128459599.


  1. ^ a b "Robert S. Dietz". Britannica. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  2. ^ Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "Robert Sinclair Dietz Biography" (PDF). Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  3. ^ "Robert Dietz to Join Marine Expedition; To Study Pacific Ocean Floor Under Illinois University Prefessor", Westfield Leader, May 20, 1937. Accessed November 17, 2020. "Robert S. Dietz of 140 Harrison Avenue, graduate of Westfield High School, class of '32, will assist Prof. F. P. Shepard of the University of Illinois in marine investigations off the Pacific Coast, early next fall.
  4. ^ Bourgeois, J.; Koppes, S. (1998). "Robert S. Dietz and the identification of impact structures on Earth". Earth Sciences History. 17 (2): 139–156. doi:10.17704/eshi.17.2.t05vj1571716t462.
  5. ^ "January Meeting," Phoenix Skeptics News vol. 1, no. 4, January/February 1988. "Meeting Announcement," The Arizona Skeptic vol. 3, no. 2, February/March 1990.
  6. ^ (4666) Dietz In: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Springer. 2003. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_4583. ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7.
  7. ^ "Eugenie Scott gives the Robert S. Dietz memorial lecture," The Lippard Blog, February 3, 2006
  8. ^ 2007 Robert S. Dietz Memorial Public Lecture Archived 2010-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Mars scientist to discus upcoming launch of Curiosity rover". ASU News. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2022-02-22.


  • "Dietz, Robert Sinclair". McGraw-Hill Modern Scientists and Engineers. Vol. 1. 1980. pp. 290–291.

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