Clarence Edward Dutton

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Clarence Edward Dutton (born May 15, 1841 in Wallingford , Connecticut , † January 4, 1912 in Englewood , New Jersey ) was an American geologist. He is known for his geological exploration in the Colorado Plateau.

Clarence Edward Dutton


Dutton studied at Yale University , where he made his bachelor's degree in 1860 and was initially interested in literature and participated in the first rowing competition between Yale and Harvard. He later turned to mathematics and chemistry, but he did not study at the Sheffield Scientific School, but at the Yale Academy. His further studies were interrupted in 1862 when he volunteered for the 21st Connecticut Infantry in the Civil War . He took part in the battles of Fredericksburg (where he was wounded), Suffolk, Nashville, and the Siege of Petersburg . He became a captain and after completing a course for supply officers of the regular army, Second Lieutenant (Ordnance). In 1864 he commanded the Army Depot of the Potomac Army. Even after the war he remained in the army and became first lieutenant in 1867. In addition to his work as a supply officer, he devoted himself to chemistry (especially metallurgy and steel production) and geology. He was from 1871 in the arsenal of Washington DC and took part in scientific life there and joined the Philosophical Society of Washington. In 1873 he became a captain.

In Washington he also met John Wesley Powell , who had also participated in the Civil War as a major and was known for his expeditions on the Colorado River in the Gran Canyon. They both got on well, and when Powell was looking for someone to explore the Utah plateau in 1875, he chose Powell, who was released from the Ordnance Department of the US Army. After the US Geological Survey was founded in 1879 (with Powell as President from 1881) Dutton worked in its framework. There he had closer contact with Grove Karl Gilbert , who began in 1875 for Powell with his recording of the Henry Mountains also on the plateaus near the Gran Canyon. Powell, Gilbert and Dutton discussed their exploration results obtained in the summer months mostly in the winters in Washington DC

He published studies in 1879/1880 on the geology of the Utah plateau (where he geologically surveyed 12,000 square miles in inaccessible terrain from 1875 to 1877 with staff), in 1882 on the Gran Canyon (which is considered a classic work of geology and also the literary skills of Dutton shows) and the 1886 earthquake in Charleston, South Carolina . The abundant volcanic rocks in the Colorado Plateau aroused his interest in volcanology and he studied volcanoes in Hawaii (half a year 1882), in the cascade range of Northern California and Oregon and fossil volcanoes, for example, in New Mexico . In Oregon, he led an expedition that measured Crater Lake from a boat that was transported there. In 1887 he organized the investigation of a major earthquake in the Sonora province of Mexico. In 1891 he left the USGS and returned to the army. He became the commanding officer of the San Antonio Arsenal, Texas, which he remained until 1901. In retirement he turned back to geology. Most recently he lived with his son in Englewood.

In 1871 he became a member of the American Philosophical Society and in 1884 of the National Academy of Sciences .

In 1888, Dutton was a founding member of the National Geographic Society .

In 1889 he introduced the term isostasy . However, George Airy and John Henry Pratt had similar ideas in the 1850s. Dutton tried to answer the question of how the striking uplifts in the Colorado Plateau, for example, had come about.


  • Wallace Stegner Beyond the hundreth meridian: John Wesley Powell and the second opening of the West , University of Nebraska Press 1954
  • Wallace Stegner Clarence Edward Dutton. To Appraisal , University of Utah Press 1936


  • Report on the Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah . US Geog. and Geol. Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, Volume 32, 1880
  • Tertiary History of the Grand Canyon District , US Geological Survey Monograph 2, 1882, Text Volume, Archives
  • Hawaiian Volcanoes , US Geological Survey, 4th Annual Report, 1884, pp. 75-219, Archives
  • The physical geology of the Gran Canyon District , Annual Report, US Geological Survey, 1882, Archives
  • The Charleston Earthquake of August 31, 1886 , US Geol. Survey, Annual Report 9, 1889, pp. 203-528
  • On Some of the Greater Problems of Physical Geology , Bull. Philosophical Society Washington, Volume 11, 1889, pp. 51-64 (introduction of the term isostasy)
  • Earthquakes, in the light of the new seismology , New York, Putnam, 1904

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Member History: Clarence E. Dutton. American Philosophical Society, accessed July 26, 2018 .