via GSA TODAY | March-April 2022
By Emily Zawacki, 2021–2022 GSA Science Communication Fellow
Previously unnamed impact craters on the south polar region of the moon are being named to honor three former Geological Society of America (GSA) members. These craters were discovered while studying the south pole of the moon in advance of NASA’s Artemis mission, which will mark the return of humans to the moon, and the Intuitive Machines second Commercial Lunar Payload Services mission. The craters will be named to honor geologists Dr. Anna Jonas Stose, Dr. Ursula B. Marvin, and Dr. Paul B. Spudis.
David Kring, who leads the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration, proposed lunar polar crater names for Stose and Marvin because of their significant contributions to geological science. Mark Robinson, a professor at Arizona State University,
additionally proposed a crater name for Spudis.
Stose was a pioneer in the field of geology, with significant contributions to the understanding of the geology of the Appalachian Mountains. She was born in 1881 and received her Ph.D. in 1912. She later held positions at the American Museum of Natural History, several state geological surveys, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Stose was elected as a GSA Fellow in 1922. She was among the first women field geologists and produced a significant number of publications over her sixty-year–long career, with many of her discoveries on Appalachian geology still recognized and accepted today.
Marvin was a geologist specializing in meteorites and an Antarctic adventurer. She was born in 1921. She began pursuing doctoral studies at Harvard in the early 1950s but departed graduate school to prospect for ore deposits in Brazil and Angola with her husband. Marvin later returned to Harvard to work on meteorites in the Harvard collection, which was then relocated to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Marvin belatedly earned her Ph.D. in 1969 after the Harvard geology department allowed her to use her published research on meteorites in lieu of a thesis. Marvin was one of the original analysts of samples from the Apollo 11 mission, and she continued to work with samples returned from later missions. During the 1970s and 1980s, Marvin participated in Antarctic expeditions to search for meteorites, one of which recovered the first fragments of Moon materials found on Earth. She was chair of GSA’s History of Geology Division in 1982, and she received the GSA History of Geology Award in 1986.
Spudis was an expert in lunar and terrestrial planetary geology. His work provided fundamental contributions to the understanding of impact basins and craters and volcanism on Earth and other planets. Spudis was born in 1952 and earned his Ph.D. in geology in 1982. He held positions at the U.S. Geological Survey serving as the principal investigator for NASA’s Planetary Geology Program, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Moon Express Inc.
He served on numerous science advisory committees, including the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy in 2004. Spudis was a dedicated advocate for astronauts returning to the Moon, which is now being realized by NASA’s Artemis mission program. Spudis was a GSA member from 1978 until his passing in 2018. He was posthumously named as a Michel T. Halbouty Distinguished Lecturer at the GSA annual meeting in 2018, with the presentation delivered by Ben Bussey.
“Although these names were proposed because of the merits of past work, we hope that they also motivate students,” said Kring. “It is important to understand: Apollo demonstrated that lunar exploration can influence the dreams of the nation’s children. I am among those who were inspired. It will be wonderful if NASA’s new Artemis lunar exploration program generates the same result in an increasingly diverse way.”