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Spurr, Josiah Edward, 1870-1950


Josiah Edward Spurr (1870-1950) was born into a family of fishermen in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He received his Master's degree in geology from Harvard University in 1894 and was appointed to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the same year. In 1896, Spurr was sent, with two other USGS geologists, to survey the Alaskan interior. This historically important expedition was followed in 1898 by an equally important journey down the 702 mile-long Kuskokwim River, surveying previously uncharted mountains, lakes, volcanoes and glaciers.

These expeditions established Spurr as one of the leading economic geologists of the day and he advised clients as diverse as Abdul Hamid, the Sultan of Turkey, Bernard Baruch, and the Guggenheims. When not advising private clients, he conducted field studies and research throughout the American southwest and Mexico, and served as the first President of the Society of Economic Geologists. Later in life he developed a deep interest in selenology and continued to research and write on topics ranging from the origin of moon craters to the possible existence of 'ore-magma' beneath the surface of the Earth.

Source: Hawley, Charles Caldwell, "Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation Inductee, Josiah Edward Spurr," last modified 2013.