Return to
GSA Today
Send letters to

PO Box 9140
Boulder, CO 80301-9140 USA
Please keep your letter to 300 words or fewer. GSA Today reserves the right to edit letters for space and clarity.
Opinions presented do not reflect official positions of the Society.


Topic: GSA's Gold Medals

August 2010

Dear Editor,

The Geological Society of America has been recognizing our best and brightest by three major awards: (1) the Penrose Medal, which was established in 1927 to recognize distinguished research in pure geology; (2) the Day Medal, which was initiated in 1948 for outstanding distinction in the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems; and (3) the Donath Medal, which was endowed in 1988 to award scientists (35 years or younger) for outstanding achievement. Clearly, these are honorable objectives that we should all support for the good of the profession.

In the Dialogue article from the June issue of GSA Today*, Jean Bahr (GSA President) and Jack Hess (GSA Executive Director) sounded an alarm regarding the future of these medals. They conveyed that the price of gold has become untenable; the 2.25 inch medals now cost US$6,000 each. This threatens to force a change from the customary 14-karat gold to gold-plated silver medals, or even presenting medals only when there are sufficient funds. These are drastic solutions. The world knows us as “the gold finders,” and we should live up to it!

The alternative to dramatic changes to the original bequests is for GSA to receive at least US$270,000 to endow the medals for the foreseeable future. All we need now are “300 good men and women” to give US$1,000 each to this worthwhile cause. As I mail this, I am sending my contribution to the GSA Foundation†. It is hoped that similar contributions are made by 300 fellow geologists before the end of this year. I appeal to you to assure the continuation of this honorable practice.

Farouk El-Baz
Director of the Center for Remote Sensing and Research Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University; GSA member since 1961

[ original article ]