Vincent McKelvey

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Vincent McKelvey
Vincent Ellis McKelvey headshot.jpg
Membership Honorary

Vincent Ellis (Vince) McKelvey (April 6, 1916 – January 23, 1987) was noted for "numerous contributions about the stratigraphy, geochemistry, origin and search for phosphate and uranium deposits",

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Bernardo F. Grossling


The Society of Exploration Geophysicists has awarded to Vincent E. McKelvey its Honorary Membership which, according to its statutes, is to be awarded in recognition of "distinguished contributions, which warrant exceptional recognition, to exploration geophysics or a related field." Underlying his formal recognition by SEG is the brilliant and dedicated career of an earth scientist who has researched many topics, and for more than six years directed the multitude of activities of one of the largest scientific organizations in this country.

Vince was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He has a B.A. degree with Honors in Geology from Syracuse University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin. From 1938 to 1940 he worked part-time with the Soil Conservation Service, and with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Since 1941 he has been with the U.S. Geological Survey, rising to Chief Geologist, and in 1971 to Director, continuing in that position until 1978, when he resumed a full-time research role as Research Geologist within the Survey.

Vince's scientific contributions already span almost four decades. They include such diverse topics as: The geology of the Phosphoria formation, the flotation of sand, mineral prospects of the Appalachian region, resource estimation, and oil well blowouts. From among his contributions the following ought to be noted in particular:

The numerous contributions about the stratigraphy, geochemistry, origin and search for phosphate and uranium deposits.

A broad generalization as to the relation between reserves of the elements and their crustal abundances.
Farsighted contributions to the understanding of the mineral potential of the ocean bed.
A new conceptual framework for the assessment of mineral resources, which has had a worldwide impact.
A thoughtful interpretation of the role of minerals in economic development, and how mineral supply and demand interact with the level of living, population growth, and creativity.

The numerous contributions to the factual base for the formulation of U.S. mineral policies, in particular in relation to the ocean floor.

Beyond these contributions, another one stands out: He asserted that government scientists best serve their nation by being able to preserve their intellectual freedom and objectivity.

Vince is widely respected both here and abroad because of his ability and integrity. His rapport with the geology of the earth is by no means finished, as indicated by the fact that this summer he headed for the west to continue the field studies he had begun many years ago. The Honorary Membership awarded by SEG to Dr. Vincent E. McKelvey is fully deserved.