Ralph J. Roberts is not a household name in Nevada, but it should be—it was he who discovered the Carlin Belt gold deposits that created a major mining boom in the state in the last four decades of the twentieth century. But this discovery was only one episode of his remarkably eventful life. This colorful and personal account of the author's search for his passion—gold—is a story as adventurous as that of any fictional character.
After forty-four years with the U.S. Geological Survey, Ralph J. Roberts retired in 1981 and formed a partnership providing consultation for the exploration of gold deposits. He is the recipient of numerous professional awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Man of the Year Award from the Nevada Mining Association; and the Medal of Merit from the American Mining Hall of Fame.
“Roberts’ autobiography radiates enthusiasm, challenge, and dedication to geological exploration for gold. Far more than that, it reveals how field geologists develop competing ideas, most of which eventually give way to a favored and hopefully correct one. This account is not technical, but it does skillfully explain with carefully prepared maps and cross sections and with excellent field photographs how rocks formed and deformed in the geological past resulting in economic gold mineralization. Roberts traces his educational experiences through the University of Washington and later Yale and his professional experiences with prominent geologists who shaped his career with the US Geological Survey during WWII and thereafter until retirement in the early 1980s. He takes readers through field experiences with close colleagues in regions in which he became the recognized expert, e.g., Nevada, Utah, Central America, and Saudi Arabia. He engagingly relates personal influences of family and friends with the excitement of exploration, conflict, and discovery—not only of gold itself, but, more important, of challenges to understanding and history of the geology of gold wherever it occurs in the world. This finely written account of the life of a truly great geologist makes enlightening and rewarding reading for young and old alike.” —T.L.T. Grose, CHOICE, February 2003
“It is refreshing indeed to read about those who braved awful climates, snakes, daunting vegetation, horrendous topography, and (in Canada) black flies, to read the rocks and to decipher their wonderful message.” —Tomas Feininger, The Canadian Mineralogist, 2003
“If ever there was an argument for society’s support of pure science, research for the sake of knowledge, this is it.” —Gary Dillard, American Mining Heritage, February 2003
“Ralph Roberts’ story weaves geology, family life, personal experiences, and professional comments in an intriguing manner. The story recounts a grand era when careful work by dedicated USGS geologists laid the groundwork by which the mining industry was maintained. I think it should be read that way—as an account of the work of many and the role of one who was a major player . . .” —Brian J. Skinner, GSA Today, January 2003