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Sloss, L. L. (Laurence Louis), 1913-1996



  • Existence: 1913 - 1996


Laurence Louis Sloss was born in August 26, 1913 in Mountain View, California, the son of Joseph and Edith (Esberg) Sloss. In 1930 he entered Stanford University and received his Bachelor of Science, major subject geology in 1934. In fall 1934 Sloss enrolled for graduate school at the University of Chicago and received his Ph.D. in geology in 1937. His doctoral dissertation was published as "Devonian Rugose Corals from the Traverse Beds of Michigan," Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 13, No. 1 (1939), pp. 52-73. In 1937 Sloss accepted appointment to the Montana School of Mines at Butte, Montana. He stayed there for nine years: from 1937-1939 he was an instructor, from 1939-1943 an assistant professor, and from 1943-1946 an associate professor. At the same time he held a position as geologist with the Montana State Bureau of Mines and Geology, where he began to compile information on the distribution of sedimentary rocks. The results, published as "Devonian System in Central and Northwestern Montana," in the 1947 Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) (with Wilson M. Laird) won the AAPG President's Award as the best article of the year.

In 1947 Sloss joined the geology faculty at Northwestern University as lecturer. In 1948 Northwestern appointed Sloss assistant professor. As part of the "famous triumvirate" (William Krumbein, Edward Dapples, and Laurence Sloss) he continued his studies of sedimentary rocks. He broadened his research to the geological evolution of cratons and to stratigraphy and tectonics, the science and study of the sedimentary layers of the earth and the state of behavior of the earth's crust. Throughout his career at Northwestern Sloss also acted as a consulting geologist for the petroleum industry. Mostly during the summers he worked for Carter Oil, Phillips Oil, and other oil companies, and he went on extensive field trips with students, who worked on various industry-supported research projects.

In 1951 Krumbein and Sloss published their textbook Stratigraphy and Sedimentation, which became a standard book for geology students. Northwestern appointed Sloss full professor in 1954, and William Deering Professor of Geological Sciences in 1971, succeeding his close friend and associate, William C. Krumbein. Sloss held this position until his retirement in 1981.

From 1961 through 1962 he served as president of the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists (SEPM) and was the recipient of the Twenhofel Medal of SEPM in 1980. He was president of the American Geology Institute (AGI) in 1968, president of the Geological Society of America (GSA) from 1979-1980, Penrose Medal Citationist (GSA) in 1978, and received the Hollis D. Hedberg Award in Energy of the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man. He became a member of the Illinois Board of Natural Resources and Conservation in 1963, acted as a chairman at the U.S. National Committee on Geology from 1967 through 1971, and was panelist and committee member at the National Academy of Sciences (1962-1979). Sloss also worked with Northwestern's Integrated Science Program at Northwestern University (1978-1979). In 1996 the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) honored Sloss with the Distinguished Educator Award.

Sloss retired from Northwestern University in 1981, but continued to give lectures, to write, to act as a consultant, to attend scientific meetings and to take field trips. One of Sloss's former students, Peter R. Vail built upon Sloss's advances in sequence stratigraphy to create the science of seismic stratigraphy.

On June 20, 1937 Sloss married Berenice Loeb and had two sons, Laurence Joseph and Peter William. After the death of Berenice in 1978 following their 41-year union, he married Marion Schnitzer Stone; there were no further offspring.

On November 2, 1996, at the age of 81, Sloss died following surgery at Evanston (Illinois) Hospital.

Sloss and his approach to stratigraphic geology made him one of the best-known geologists of his generation. Since 1999 he is annually memorialized through the presentation of the Sloss Award by the Geology Society of America, Sedimentary Geology Division.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Laurence Louis Sloss (1913-1996) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/14/14

The Papers of stratigraphic and petroleum geologist Laurence L. Sloss, who taught at Northwestern University from 1947-1981, consist of correspondence, publications, fieldwork (notes and maps), publications, and photographs.

Dates: 1932-1996; Other: Date acquired: 06/12/1997