Menu
Contact Us Search
Organization Title

Salem J. Rice, 1919-2003

Excerpt from California Geology magazine,
June 1983:
Salem J. Rice, 1919-2003

After nearly 33 years of state service with the California Division of Mines and Geology, Salem J. Rice has retired. Salem provided expertise in California economic geology and mineralogy, as well as engineering geology, and was recognized for his understanding of the widespread and controversial Franciscan geology.

Salem, a native of Kentucky, attended the University of Kentucky where he majored in botany. He became interested in forestry and transferred to the University of Idaho in 1938. On a visit to San Francisco to see the 1939 World's Fair at Treasure Island, he was so captivated by the area that he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, again as a botany major.

As a field assistant on a summer research project in paleobotany he became so interested in the geological aspects of the subject that he took up the study of geology at UCB. His academic career was interrupted in 1942 when he was drafted into the army. He served as a radioman in the South Pacific, where he spent his free time studying the botany and geology of the islands, especially Okinawa, and Korea.

After his discharge from the army in 1945, Salem returned to UCB to complete his Bachelor's degree in geology in 1948. He continued at Berkeley as a graduate student; during the summer of 1949 he was hired as a field assistant by the U.S. Geological Survey to help map the Glacier Bay National Monument.

Salem began his 33-year career with the division in 1950 under Dr. Olaf P. Jenkins, who was then the division chief. Salem's early work on asbestos, nickel, and chromite did much to call attention to the economic potential of these mineral commodities in California.

He is an expert on the geology and metamorphic mineralogy of the Tiburon Peninsula, and over the years conducted numerous field trips for professional societies and visiting geologists and petrologists to this classic locality. In 1960 he discovered tourmaline crystals in Francis- can sandstone and presented several professional papers documenting his findings on the tourmalinized Franciscan sediments of Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County. In 1964 he published on the lawsonite type locality at Tiburon, and in 1966 on a new mineral locality near Laytonville where deerite, howieite, and zussmanite had been discovered. Although Salem spent his entire service with the division in the San Francisco District (which was also division headquarters until 1970), he worked in nearly all parts of California. In recent years Salem served as a senior scientist specializing in geologic hazard evaluation in the state, ranging from Marin County planning studies to site evaluations at the Auburn Dam, Warm Springs Dam, the Vallecitos Reactor, and Point Conception LNG site.

Salem Rice is a Fellow in the Geological Society of America and a long standing member of the following professional organizations American Association for the Advancement of Science, California Academy of Sciences, Peninsula Geological Society, California Native Plants Society, and Friends of the Pleistocene. Even though he is leaving the division, Salem has no intention of retiring from geology. His inquisitive nature and love of science will continue unabated. To his colleagues he is a geologist's geologist and is always willing to take the time to share his broad knowledge of mineralogy, petrography, botany, and the geology of California with others.....

Salem Rice passed away on August 16, 2003.