Arthur Brant

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Arthur Brant
Arthur A. Brant headshot.jpg
BSc Mathematics and Physics
MSc Physics
PhD Physics
BSc university University of Toronto
MSc university University of Toronto
PhD university Princeton

Arthur A. Brant (1910-2002) was a pioneering Canadian mining geophysicist.

Memorial [1]

Contributed by Colin Barnett, Misac Nabighian, John Parry, Harold Seigel, James Taranik, and Gordon Wieduwilt


Arthur A. Brant, the prominent pioneerand grand old man of mining geophysics, died 28 January 2002 in Tucson, Arizona at age 91.

Early years and education

Born 23 October 1910 in Toronto, he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1932, winning the gold medal in mathematics and physics and getting his first exposure to geophysics. As an undergraduate he lettered in lacrosse, baseball, and hockey and played in two Canadian intercollegiate hockey championship teams. He obtained his MA in 1933 and then went to Princeton on the Queens Scholarship in physics. Because he was athletically talented he received an offer to go to Germany to be player/coach for a local hockey team and was given a German Exchange Fellowship at the University of Berlin from where he received a doctorate of science in 1936. During this period he was also asked to coach the first German national hockey team for the 1934-1935 Olympics and made the cover of Berlin Illustrated.

University of Toronto

He returned to Toronto as assistant professor of physics. In 1938, using electrical methods, he and some of his students traced a newly discovered high-grade hematite deposit through the ice of Steep Rock Lake. This made front-page headlines in Toronto’s Evening Telegram, to the consternation of the university, but resulted in instant accreditation of the prospecting and mining fraternity. In 1940, in the Princeton Chapel, he married Lilli Tekla Umbach, whom he had met in 1933 while playing collegiate hockey for Princeton, and who became later a prominent portrait painter. In the same year he became associate professor at the University of Toronto and started developing a wide consulting practice.

Newmont Mining

In 1946 Newmont Mining asked Brant, who was then consulting for them, to investigate what technologies emerging from World War II could be applied for exploration purposes. After visits to the Radio Frequency Laboratories in Boonton, New Jersey, Brant recommended the adaptation of the “pulse” method, used by the U.S. Navy for underwater mine detection, for the detection of heretofore unresponsive disseminated porphyry ores. In 1949 he left the University of Toronto to join Newmont Mining Corporation as director of the Geophysical Department, based in Jerome, Arizona, and the rest is history.

With a talented team of former students from the University of Toronto, the Newmont group under his direction successfully developed the induced polarization technique, currently the electrical geophysical method most widely used worldwide in the search for porphyry copper, bedded lead-zinc, and other important mineral deposits. The group also pioneered the use of this and var- ious other geophysical techniques for exploration in boreholes.

In the 1950s, under Brant’s leadership, extensive theoretical and experimental work was carried out at Newmont to establish a solid mathematical foundation for the electromagnetic methods. The Newmont-Aero helicopter EM system, with rigidly mounted transmitter and receiver coils, was developed in 1956. The basic theory and the first patent on time-domain EM techniques occurred in the early 1950s, followed by successful field tests in Cyprus.

Nuclear magnetic resonance

Nuclear magnetic resonance experiments were carried out in mid 1950s on chalcopyrite ores and holographic drill hole experiments followed in the late 1960s. Over the years Brant published 22 papers and was granted 14 patents. He always kept a foot in academia where he lectured widely: the Hoots Lectures at Stanford, the McKinstry Lectures at Harvard, Regents Lecturer at Berkeley, and countless lectures in Japan, India, Germany, Australia, and Canada. He served in various advisory committees at Princeton, UCLA, Berkeley, and several others. He was adjunct professor at both Columbia University and the University of Arizona.

Including mining geophysics in SEG

In 1947 Brant campaigned vigorously with the SEG leadership to include mining geophysics within the Society’s purview. He was successful, and he organized the first mining program at SEG’s 1948 Annual Meeting in Denver. He was SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 1960 and became an Honorary Member in 1963. In 1987 he was awarded SEG’s highest honor, the Maurice Ewing Medal. He received the Jackling Award of AIME in 1964 and honorary life membership in the Nature Conservancy in 1978.

In 1985, a group of former students and associates established the Arthur Brant Lecture series at Columbia University and in 1987 an endowed Arthur Brant Chair in Exploration Geophysics at the Mackay School of Mines in Reno, Nevada. In 1998 the Mackay School of Mines also established the Arthur Brant Laboratory of Exploration Geophysics, and an Arthur Brant Graduate Fellowship in Geophysics. After the Arthur Brant Laboratory was established, Arthur kept in monthly, sometimes weekly telephone contact with its students and staff to make certain that they were on the right track. The Lilli Brant Reading Room in the historic Mackay School of Mines’ DeLaMare Library has Lilli’s paintings, including a self portrait and one of Arthur.

GEOSAT Committee

After his retirement from Newmont in 1975, he served as the first-year chairman of the GEOSAT Committee (1976), an organization with more than 100 members from industry and government who were interested in seeing the government develop remote sensing technology for geoscience applications. Brant helped to establish the committee’s direction and its relationships with government agencies, notably NASA, and with the U.S. Congress. Brant was a strikingly impressive person in meetings with gov- ernment officials, often opening his meetings with discussions on world mineral resource economics and the importance of the United States competing effectively in the world marketplace. He retired permanently to Tucson where he continued his involvement at the University of Arizona, Columbia University, and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Brant had undoubtedly the largest influence on the first generation, post World War II, of mining geophysicists, and their accomplishments are a true measure of his greatness. He will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his wife Lilli, his daughters Heidi Weiss Brant and Karin Haley, his son Roderick, and seven grandchildren.

Obituary [2]

Dr. Arthur A. Brant, a founding father of mining geophysics, died recently at the age of 91 in Tucson, Ariz.

'Doc Brant,' as he was familiarly referred to by his many students and colleagues at Newmont Mining, enjoyed an extraordinary career in exploration geophysics, including initiating development of induced polarization and the Newmont helicopter AEM system. An imposing man with a fondness for large cigars, Doc was noted for his outspoken opinions on politics as well as geophysics.

Early Years and Education

Born in Toronto in 1910, Brant received a B.Sc. (Honours) from the University of Toronto in 1932, winning the gold medal in mathematics and physics, followed by an M.Sc. in 1933, at the same time achieving distinction in several varsity sports, especially hockey. After a brief period at Princeton, he received an exchange fellowship to Germany, where he pursued his doctorate at the University of Berlin and, in addition, coached the first German national hockey team in the 1936 Olympics.

Professional Career

Returning to Toronto as an assistant professor of physics in 1937, he soon made headlines by discovering a high-grade hematite deposit through the ice under Steep Rock Lake using electrical methods. Rising to associate professor in 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Lilli Umbach, (later a noted portrait painter) and rapidly developed an extensive consulting practice.

In 1949, he left the University of Toronto to become director of Newmont's Geophysical Department in Jerome, Ariz. Drawing on a talented team of former students from Toronto (many of whom also became noted geophysicists), the Newmont group under Brant successfully developed the induced polarization method for detection of disseminated sulphides, pioneered a variety of borehole techniques, established a solid foundation for electromagnetic (EM) techniques, and developed the first time-domain EM system, as well as the first helicopter AEM system. Brant remained with Newmont until his nominal retirement in 1975, after which he served as initial chairman of the GEOSAT committee, and as adjunct professor at Columbia University and the University of Arizona.

Brant published and lectured widely, and received numerous honours and awards during his long career, including the Society of Exploration Geophysicists' highest award, the Maurice Ewing medal, in 1987. In that same year, a group of associates and friends established the endowed Arthur Brant Chair in Exploration Geophysics at the Mackay School of Mines in Reno, Nev., followed by the Brant Geophysics Laboratory in 1998.

In recognition of the many developments pioneered by Brant and the Newmont group in advancing exploration geophysics in Canada, the Canadian Exploration Geophysical Society intends to establish a Canadian prize or scholarship in his honour.


Biography Citation for the Maurice Ewing Medal 1987 [3]

Contributed by Misac Nabighian

Looking back, your goals are to leave a better world than you found it; but your area of impact is so small. Also you rather feel that you did not do justice to the opportunities presented. -Arthur A. Brant

In bestowing its highest award, the Maurice Ewing Medal to Dr. Arthur A. Brant, the SEG Awards Committee stated that this honor is in recognition of his "major contributions to the advancement of the science and profession of exploration geophysics, and his influence on mining geophysics, both as teacher and explorationist." These words adequately describe the lifelong achievements of Arthur Brant whose career spans over half a century in every aspect of mining geophysics.

Early Years and Education

Born in Toronto, October 23, 1910, he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1932, winning the gold medal in mathematics and physics, and getting his first exposure to geophysics. He obtained his M.A. the next year, and then went to Princeton on the Queens Scholarship in Physics. A German Exchange Fellowship followed in 1935-1936 at the University of Berlin, after which he returned to the University of Toronto as assistant professor in physics.

Professional Career

With a crew of university students in 1938, using electrical methods, he traced a newly discovered high grade hematite deposit through the ice of Steep Rock Lake. This made front page headlines in Toronto's Evening Telegram and resulted in instant accreditation of the mining and prospecting fraternity.

In 1940, he married Lilli Tekla Umbach, a now prominent portrait painter; became an associate professor at the University of Toronto; and started to develop a wide consulting practice. His work for Newmont led to his joining the company in 1947 as director of Newmont's Geophysical Department, a position he retained until retirement in 1976.

At Newmont, a decision was made, in 1946, to see if any technology emerging from the war could be applied to exploration. After visits to the Radio Frequency Laboratories in Boonton, New Jersey, where Brant was conducting Newmont's investigations, he recommended a follow-up on the "pulse" method (based on wartime underwater mine detection tests) as a potentially useful technique for detecting heretofore unresponsive disseminated porphyry ores.

The rest is history. With a talented team of former students from the University of Toronto, the Newmont group successfully developed the induced polarization technique, culminating in the discovery of significant mineralization at Cuajone, Peru. For drillhole work, in ravelly and inclined holes, the group developed plastic casing techniques, offset slotted rodding and, in collaboration with McPhar, the first simple borehole magnetometer.

Under Brant's leadership in the early '50s, extensive theoretical and experimental work was carried out to establish a solid foundation for the electromagnetic methods. The Newmont-Aero helicopter EM system, with rigidly mounted transmitter and receiver coils, was developed in 1956. The basic theory, and first patent, on time domain EM techniques occurred in the early '50s, followed by successful field tests in Cyprus. Nuclear magnetic resonance experiments were carried out in the mid '50s on chalcopyrite ores. Holographic drill hole experiments followed in the late '60s.

Publications

A measure of Brant's accomplishments can be found in 22 published papers and 14 patents granted over two decades. Throughout the years, Brant managed to keep one foot in academia, lecturing widely and serving on various advisory committees: the Hoots Lectures at Stanford; the McKinstry Lecture at Harvard; Regents Lecturer at Berkeley; as well as countless lectures in Japan, India, Germany, Australia and Canada; advisory committees at Princeton, UCLA, Berkeley, and several others. He is presently adjunct professor both at Columbia University and the University of Arizona.

Brant was SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 1960 and was granted honorary membership in 1963. In 1948, he was instrumental in organizing the Mining Geophysical Symposium in Denver which led to the inclusion of mining geophysics under the SEG. In 1964, he received the Jackling Award of the AIME, and in 1978, honorary life membership in Nature Conservancy. In 1985, a group of former students and associates established the Arthur Brant Lecture series at Columbia University.

After his retirement from Newmont, he served as first year chairman of the Geosat Committee (1976), helping to establish its direction and relationships with NASA, Congress, Senate, etc., and its efforts to promote satellite applications to resource exploration.

Personal Interests

In his student years, he established a considerable reputation as a hockey player as a member of Canadian intercollegiate championship teams (1929, 1933) and as a member of Canadian semifinalists (1929). As coach of the German Olympic hockey aspirants (winter 1934-1935), he was featured on the cover of Berlin Illustrated. I first met Brant when he interviewed me for a position while I was a graduate student at Lamont Geological Observatory, whose director was Maurice Ewing. Having known them both, I am pleased and proud to be asked to write this citation. No one is more deserving of the award than Arthur A. Brant.


References

  1. Colin Barnett , Misac Nabighian , John Parry , Harold Seigel , James Taranik , and Gordon Wieduwilt (2002). ”Aurthur Brandt Memorial.” The Leading Edge, 21(5), 494-504. doi: 10.1190/tle21050494.1
  2. Obituary, "The Northern Miner" Apr 29 - May 5, 2002 Volume 88 Number 10
  3. Awards and Music, SEG 1987 Annual Meeting, New Orleans Convention Center New Orleans, Louisiana Wednesday, October 14, 1987