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Guide to the Allan Cox Papers
SC0343  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical/Historical Sketch
  • Description of the Collection
  • Access Terms
  • List of common abbreviations

  • Overview

    Call Number: SC0343
    Creator: Cox, Allan, 1926-1987.
    Title: Allan Cox papers
    Dates: 1954-1987
    Physical Description: 20 Linear feet
    Summary: Papers document his professional life as teacher, administrator, and researcher and include correspondence; memoranda; research notes, charts, proposals, and reports; grant applications; outlines, tests, lecture notes, and other teaching materials; manuscripts; minutes; date books; papers and theses by his students; reprints; maps; and his notes while a student at UC Berkeley. Cox studied paleomagnetism and plate tectonics theory; some materials pertain to research done on the Galapagos Islands and in China.
    Language(s): The materials are in English.
    Repository: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Stanford University Libraries
    557 Escondido Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305-6064
    Email: speccollref@stanford.edu
    Phone: (650) 725-1022
    URL: http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/spc/spc.html

    Administrative Information

    Information about Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Ownership & Copyright

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94304-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/pubserv/permissions.html.
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Cite As

    . Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Biographical/Historical Sketch

    The son of a house painter, Allan attended high school in Santa Ana. He pursued his education through independent reading during 3 years in the merchant marine (1945-48), 3 years of undergraduate chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley (1948-51), and 2 more years of independent reading as a private in the U.S. Army (1951-53). The most important event in his education, and the one that helped him choose geology as a career, was a summer job with the U.S. Geological Survey in 1950 as a field assistant to Clyde Wahrhaftig in Alaska. Allan received his B.A. (1955), M.A. (1957), and Ph.D. (1959) degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was inspired by the teaching of John Verhoogen and Perry Byerly. He began his professional career at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, where he helped establish what was to become one of the most successful paleomagnetic laboratories in the country. From 1959 to 1967 he worked as a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1967 he joined the faculty at Stanford University, where he became Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Geophysics. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1969 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974. He became president of the American Geophysical Union in 1978. He received the Fleming Medal of the American Geophysical Union (1969), the Day Medal of the Geological Society of America (1975), and the Vetlesen Prize (1971). In 1979 he became the dean of the School of Earth Sciences. He was an author of over 100 papers in learned scientific journals. He established our Master's degree program in exploration geophysics, and was mentor to many students.
    The essence of Allan Cox is a rare quality -- the ability and determination to bring out the very best in others. To a degree we've never seen in another person with his achievements, he had a most wonderful mix of personal humility with demanding standards, so that before a colleague knew what was happening, he or she was challenged into performing at a level not previously thought possible. And once that level was established those demands were never relaxed. The atmosphere was exhilarating.
    His best-known research joined the paleomagnetism and radiometric ages of rocks collected from different parts of the world to find that before 700,000 years ago the geometric field had pointed south instead of north. Since the reversals were found to occur simultaneously everywhere, the polarity of the entire planetary field must have reversed. Together with his colleagues, by 1966 he had established a radiometric polarity time scale for the past 4,500,000 years and had concluded that polarity changes had occurred at an average rate of 5 reversals per million years. They found that the time intervals between successive reversals were highly variable in length, the shortest being less that than 50,000 years and the longest greater than 1,000,000 years.
    He died January 27, 1987, in a bicycle accident near his home in Skylonda.

    Description of the Collection

    Papers document his professional life as teacher, administrator, and researcher and include correspondence; memoranda; research notes, charts, proposals, and reports; grant applications; outlines, tests, lecture notes, and other teaching materials; manuscripts; minutes; date books; papers and theses by his students; reprints; maps; and his notes while a student at UC Berkeley. Cox studied paleomagnetism and plate tectonics theory; some materials pertain to research done on the Galapagos Islands and in China.

    Access Terms

    Cox, Allan, 1926-1987.
    Stanford University. Dept. of Geophysics --Faculty.
    Stanford University. School of Earth Sciences
    China--Geophysics.
    Galapagos Islands--Geophysics.
    Geophysics.
    Paleomagnetism.
    Plate tectonics

    List of common abbreviations

       
    AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science
    ACS American Chemical Society
    AGU American Geophysical Union
    CGU Canadian Geophysical Union
    ERDA Energy Research and Development Administration
    G Geophysics (course number)
    GEO Geology (course number)
    GP Geophysics (course number)
    GSA Geological Society of America
    JGG Journal of Geomagnetism and Geoelectricity
    JGR Journal of Geophysical Research
    MAG Magnometer
    NAS National Academy of Sciences
    NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    NRC National Research Council
    NSF National Science Foundation
    OPLAR Oceanic Plateaus Research
    PEPS Paleomagnetic Euler Poles
    PRF Petroleum Research Fund