2020 GSA Florence Bascom Geologic Mapping Award

Presented to Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.

Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.

Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.
University of Tennessee


Citation by Dr. J. Ryan Thigpen, University of Kentucky

Dr. Robert “Bob” Hatcher has made numerous fundamental contributions to tectonics and structural geology and all of these studies start in the field, where Bob has distinguished himself as an outstanding geologic mapper. Bob is also a prolific mapping trainer, and all of us understood that none of our other work would matter if the mapping was not correct.

Bob began geologic mapping in the Brevard fault zone and Inner Piedmont in early 1967, with support from the SC Geological Survey, and received his first NSF grant in 1968.

To date, Bob has directly advised 54 M.S. students and 17 Ph.D. students with projects involving a substantial geologic mapping component. Over a 53+ year timespan, Bob and his students mapped the four quads on the SC-GA border- Whetstone, Holly Springs, Rainy Mountain, and Tugaloo Lake, which were finally open filed by the SCGS around 2000. Bob has produced more than 43 field guides, three major compilations published in the GSA Maps Series, and a tectonic map of the Appalachians. He is one of the most accomplished geologic mappers in the history of our science and he certainly deserves to be recognized with this award.


Response by Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.

Thanks to GSA, the Florence Bascom Award Committee, and to George Davis and Peter Rowley for convincing GSA to establish this relatively new award. Most of all, thanks to Jonathan Evenick and Ryan Thigpen for nominating me, and to all of my former students—I learned something from all of them. They helped make me a better geologist/scientist.

Long ago, summer mentors Bob Barnes and Jack Colvin, Tennessee Division of Geology geologists, taught me field geology, the value of careful field observation, and how to make detailed geologic maps.

Detailed geologic maps are and will remain the most quantitative datasets in our profession. Contacts and spatial data will still be there in the next century, with reinterpretation of some contacts, while the laboratory scientists will be implementing the nth generation of computers, electron microprobes, mass spectrometers, seismographs, magnetometers, etc. Geologists who make detailed geologic maps have, however, benefitted enormously from technological advances in computers, GIS software development, and in GPS technology, but we still must go to the field to collect the basic lithologic and spatial data to make our geologic maps.

Too many papers continue to be published today in refereed journals with questionable conclusions based on minimum field data and a greater amount of laboratory data. This is the route to more publications, forced on academics by the demand by administrators for greater publication and grant funding productivity. Fortunately, the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, administered by the U. S. Geological Survey, provides funds for its own high-quality mapping, as well as for geologic mapping by state geological surveys, and a small component for university-sponsored geologic mapping by graduate and undergraduate students. It continues to produce detailed geologic maps and training for future geologists to conduct this most basic activity in our science.

I remain very grateful and humbled for this recognition and award.

Video Response