BAM Biographies:   Richard Clarkson Erd


Richard Clarkson Erd was born in Lexington, Kentucky on leap year's day February 29, 1924, and passed away May 20, 2008, in Springdale, Arkansas. He grew up in the Midwest during the Depression; his family settled in Dayton, Ohio, where he attended High School. He served as a bombardier in the 72nd Squadron of the 13th United States Army Air Corps in WWII and flew 50 missions in the SW Pacific to end his tour as First Lieutenant. Dick met his first wife, Patricia Scott, while in Sydney, Australia in 1944. He enlisted for 25 more missions so he could return to Sydney and marry her in 1945. They returned briefly to live in Sydney after the War, then settled in the States.

Dick Erd had a life-long love of mineralogy. He studied at Indiana University and then began his career as a mineralogist with USGS in 1951 in Washington, D.C. He transferred to USGS in Menlo Park, California in 1956 and worked there for more than 40 years. He was internationally known for his research in borate mineralogy. Dick also did a lot of work in the field of Hg mineralization, especially at the Clear Creek mine in San Benito County and the Challenge mercury deposit in Redwood City. He described the first mercury silicate ever known (Edgarbaileyite, named for Edgar Bailey of the USGS).

He synthesized a compound in 1956 that was later discovered as a naturally occurring mineral in 1977. This rare mineral (NaFeS2·2H2O) was named Erdite in his honor. Erdite is found locally in abundance with other sulfides and fine-grained magnetite, in discrete, late segregations within a mafic alkalic diatreme (Coyote Peak diatreme) 16 miles SW of Orick, Humboldt Co., California.

Dick was one of the founders of Bay Area Mineralogists in 1972. He loved to share his wonder of geology. "Just think," he would say, "when you crack open a rock, you are the first person to see all those thousands of years of history inside." In 1979 Dick was given an honorary award from the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies for his service to the public and to amateur mineralogists. A scholarship was set up in his name for students.

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