LITTLETON, CO, October 12, 2018 — Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Robert Zartman with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement. An accomplished listee, Robert Zartman celebrates many years' experience in his profession, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and success he has accrued in his field. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Dr. Zartman was born to Elser Forry and Esther May (Schload) Zartman on May 19, 1936, in Lancaster, PA. He was nurtured by loving parents, a grandfather and uncles who introduced him to the many wonders of nature, and the dedicated teachers of a one-room country school and small town high school. When presented with the opportunity to continue his education, he enthusiastically took up the offer. After just one semester as a geology major at Penn State University, he was certain that he was choosing the right career. Undergraduate classes at Penn State exposed him to the spectacular synclines and anticlines of the Appalachian Mountains. Subsequently as a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology he was introduced to tectonically active Southern California. A deep commitment to his studies earned him necessary and appreciated financial support throughout his student days. As an undergraduate at Penn State his classes familiarized with what today would be called classical geology, graduate school would be quite different. Dr. Zartman believed that this 'mixed' education was largely responsible for the sense of awe that followed him throughout his professional career. Science goes forward on the back of the past.
In the 1950s and 60s rapidly evolving concepts in geology and the development of sophisticated new instruments were on the threshold of making major new discoveries across the science. At Caltech Dr. Zartman became fully exposed to this emerging creative atmosphere. He was assigned to Professor Gerald. J. Wasserburg to be his mentor and thesis advisor, an association that Dr. Zartman treasures as the beginning of a lifelong friendship and as a frequent source of guidance and support. His decision was to venture into the new field of geochemistry called isotope geology, involving the application of radioactive and radiogenic elements to determine the ages of geologic features and as tracers of geologic processes. The principle instrument in measuring isotopic compositions is the mass spectrometer, and the work will be largely conducted in a chemistry laboratory rather than his beloved out-of-doors. During his five years as a graduate student Dr. Zartman was to witness the determination of, and himself producer of, increasingly precise K-Ar, Rb-Sr, and U-Th-Pb ages. Geochronology was going to play important roles in the new geologic era of plate tectonics. By the completion of his Ph.D. studies at Caltech in 1962, he was experienced with all 3 of these decay schemes.
At just this time the United States Geological Survey had reached the decision to set up an isotopic dating facility. Dr. Zartman was hired during the early staffing of the Isotope Geology Branch, and here for the next three decades he participated in the events accompanying a revolutionary growth in our knowledge of the planet. It was a productive time in his career, collaborating with a committed group of scientists and publishing over a hundred authored and co-authored papers in professional science journals.
Of the then available methods for dating rocks, Dr. Zartman soon concentrated his efforts on the U-Th-Pb technique. His responsibility in the laboratory was to develop and improve the techniques used to prepare samples for mass spectrometric analysis. Remarkably, within the half century that he has spent in setting up such dating laboratories, the amount of zircon, the most commonly dated mineral by the U-Th-Pb technique, required for an analysis was reduced from gram to sub-microgram size. As a support facility of the Survey's programs addressing its various missions, the personnel of the Isotope Geology Branch generally were assigned to projects where isotopic ages were needed. These contributions were soon seen to be crucial to unravelling the temporal history of complex geologic areas, and a long-term relationship usually developed between field and laboratory personnel. Dr. Zartman contributed extensively to several such major studies, including more than two decades in the New England states, the Precambrian Belt Series rocks of Montana and Idaho, and throughout the Rocky Mountain and Basin and Range states. Dr. Zartman never allowed the isotopic analyses that he provided become mere request orders by the programs with which he collaborated. His contributions frequently extended to full inclusion in these programs and authorship in resulting publications. One of Dr. Zartman's delights was in the hosting of graduate students, giving them access to his laboratory and establishing close connections with the academic community. He has frequently participated in international exchange programs, which brought guest scientists into his laboratory. From 1982 to 1986 he served as Supervisory Chief Geologist of the Isotope Geology Branch.
Concurrently with the increasing improvements in the determination of isotopic ages, there evolved a large data set of isotopic compositions characterizing the original isotopic composition of the dated rocks. By the 1980s Dr. Zartman's interest was turning more and more toward interpreting these isotopic clues of the rock's origins. At this time of expanding isotopic research, Dr. Zartman was assigned to manage the Branch's Isotopic Characterization of Crust and Mantle Project. The chief objective of this project was to understand the role played by the radiogenic decay systems in the rapidly evolving Plate Tectonics theory. It soon became evident that a dynamic bi-directional exchange of matter was taking place between major crustal and mantle reservoirs. Moreover, the U-Th-Pb decay scheme and Pb isotopes, in particular, provided important clues about the extend and timing of this exchange. Various models to explain the processes operating in the development and destruction of the Earth's crust were then being proposed.
Over the next decades Dr. Zartman, together with colleagues John Stacey and Bruce Doe, worked to develop the Plumbotectonic model. A refined version of the model—benefitting from the new insights into the planet's composition and dynamics taking place throughout the Earth sciences—was published in 1988. As a consequence of such studies into the nature of plate tectonics the fundamental chemical differentiation of the Earth into its crust and mantle is now recognized as not a one-time, unidirectional extraction of the crust from the mantle. Instead, it is operating as a continuing, bi-directional transport in quasi-equilibrium of matter between crust and matter. Also, the resulting model was especially successful in resolving several long-standing lead paradoxes poised by a less dynamic Earth. Plumbotectonics has gained wide acceptance in its simulation of an evolving Earth, in which the resultant isotopic patterns arise from the cumulative effects of fractionation and mixing of parent and daughter nuclides.
With the model's increasing acceptance by the academic community, a redirection in Dr. Zartman's professional career was about to occur. In 1995 he was offered a Senior Research position at the University of Cape Town, which he accepted upon retiring from the Geological Survey. A succession of this and similar appointments in South Africa (1996-1999), Germany (1999-2003), and at Harvard (2003-2006) and MIT (2007) has allows Dr. Zartman the opportunity to round out his professional career in academia. At these institutions he set up or further improved U-Th-Pb dating facilities as well as collaborate in the research going on at the visited institutions. Mentoring graduate students was particularly gratifying to him, as was the expansion of his field of interest to include the analysis of meteorites with all of their unfolding mysteries. Most recently, he received invitations in 2008 and 2014 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to be a guest scientist at the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry. Dr. Zartman's Chinese connection dates back to the early 1980s when Prof. Zicheng Peng spent three years in his laboratory at the Geological Survey.
Over the course of his professional career, Dr. Zartman has served as Member (1969-1972) of the Journal Translation Board of the Geochemical Society; Chairman (1972-1981) and Member (1981-1985) of the Working Group on Radiogenic Isotopes and Their Geophysical Applications, International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IUGG); Member (1973-1976) of the Lunar Sample Review Panel; Reporter (1981-1985) for isotopes to the U.S. Geodynamics Committee of the National Academy of Science; Member (1983-1984) of the Lunar and Planetary Institute Crustal Genesis Review Panel; Special Associate Editor (1987-1988) for an issue of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta honoring Professor G. J. Wasserburg on the occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday; Chairman (1988-1991) of Panel 10 (Geochronology and Chronostratigraphy) of the Committee on Status and Research Objectives in the Solid Earth Sciences, Board of Earth Sciences and Resources, National Research Council; Associate Editor (1988-1983) for the Geological Society of America Bulletin. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a member of the Geochemical Society and Sigma Xi.
Dr. Zartman is currently spending time completing reports on the results of research conducted over his professional career, but he also enjoys sharing his retirement time with his wife Ruth Ann engaging in those activities too long delayed. They are kept quite busy maintaining contact with their six children (Teri, Susan, Karen, Cheryl, Kevin, and Tim; a seventh, Michael, deceased) and fourteen grandchildren. At home Dr. Zartman can be found caring for the yard and garden, in the kitchen cooking up something recalled from his Pennsylvania German boyhood, or organizing his mineral collections acquired during his extensive travels.
In recognition of outstanding contributions to his profession and the Marquis Wgo's Who community, Robert Zartman has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.ltachievers.com for more information about this honor.
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