Arnold H. Bouma, 2010 Doris M. Curtis Medal
Arnold H. Bouma was born in The Netherlands. His B.S. was obtained in 1956 in Groningen under Professor Ph. H. Kuenen; his M.S. and Ph.D. under Professor D.J. Doeglas in 1959 and 1961 at the University of Utrecht. His assistantship in Groningen brought him in contact with field and flume studies, mainly dealing with turbidites.
Bouma received an invitation from Professor Francis P. Shepard to come to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography for a year on a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Emigration laws indicated that after a minimum of two years abroad he could apply for emigration. In 1966, Bouma and his family immigrated to the United States to accept a professorship in Oceanography at Texas A&M University, where he taught until the end of 1975. The market for students was grim in the mid-1970s. Only after he joined the USGS in 1979 could he place his students there. Work in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico resulted in an offer to join USGS headquarters for which he had no interest. In 1981 Gulf Oil offered him a great position in Harmarville, PA. When Chevron purchased Gulf Oil in 1986, the Bouma family moved back to California. In early 1988, Louisiana State University asked him to accept the McCord Endowed Professorship. The Boumas gradually felt like displaced Texans and started to look at possibilities to return to Texas A&M University.
His Permian Tanqua Karoo fine-grained turbidite outcrop studies in southwest South Africa involved many of his students, while others worked on several sedimentological topics in other locations in the U.S. All his students obtained good positions, most of those in the oil industry. The experience working for different organizations in many areas, and dealing with colleagues and students, enriched Bouma's knowledge tremendously. His interest in turbidites, as well as dealing with students and colleagues, will continue. His position as Adjunct Professor at the Department of Geology & Geophysics at TAMU will make it possible to lead field trips and to start a new project: the findings of oil and gas in shales make it clear that we know very little, if much, of the conditions required to make some of those deposits good sources. Bouma is developing a coalition of oil & gas companies and geological-geophysical-geochemical-engineering groups to study those deposits. Such is of interest to many companies as well as university colleagues and students. The complexity of so many people requires a center to keep programs running properly.
What demonstrates his contribution to geological studies is that the phrase "Bouma sequence" is now recognized as a full-fledged, scientific term that is understood by geologists around the world. This is an honor awarded to few people and we are pleased to award him the Doris M. Curtis medal for scientific excellence.