Adams, Frank Dawson, 1859-1942

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Adams, Frank Dawson, 1859-1942

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The geologist Frank Dawson Adams was born in Montréal. A brief period of employment with a pharmacist stirred an interest in chemistry which brought him to McGill, where he studied geology, chemistry and metallurgy. He graduated in 1878, and in 1880 joined the staff of the Geological Survey of Canada as chemist and petrographer. From there he went to Heidelberg, where he earned his Ph.D., and Zurich to study a revolutionary petrographic technique: examining mineral slices in slides under a polarization microscope. Microscopy was particularly useful for deciphering metamorphism in rocks, which in turn contributed to the detection and description of ore deposits. In 1889, Adams was appointed lecturer at McGill, and five years later succeeded Dawson as Logan Professor of Geology. He was Acting Principal, 1919-1920, and Vice-Principal from 1920 to 1924 when he retired. Throughout this period, he was an active researcher producing pioneering studies of the Upper Laurentian region, Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Grenville series, the Monteregian archipelago, but particularly on the deformation or flow of rocks. Adams served as President of the Royal Society of Canada (1913) and the Geological Society of America (1918). After his retirement he travelled extensively, published a history of geology (1938) and cultivated his library of early printed books on geology. He was an Anglican, and wrote a history of Christ Church Cathedral, Montréal.


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