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Bill Patton, Jr., Part 2

This is a continuation of the interview with Bill Patton by Karen Brewster on September 22, 2004 in his office at the United States Geological Survey, Western Region Center in Menlo Park, California. This is a part two of tape number Oral History 2002-27-20. In this part of the interview, Bill talks about the geology of Alaska, Russia and Canada, doing geological fieldwork and how it has changed through the years, working with Native people, his thoughts about the establishment of Gates of the Arctic National Park, impacts from oil exploration, and the purpose of geological research and mapping.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2002-27-20_PT.2

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Sep 22, 2004
Narrator(s): Bill Patton, Jr.
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) Geological connections between Alaska, Russia and the Canadian Rockies, and the organization of the Navy Oil Unit

2) His graduate work at Stanford University researching rock formations in the Brooks Range and Canada

3) His years of doing summer fieldwork and the involvement of his family

4) Using airplanes and helicopters to support fieldwork, and nearly crashing in a helicopter

5) How to emergency land a helicopter, and bear encounters during fieldwork

6) Radio contact they had during fieldwork, and the use of a new type of tracked vehicle

7) Working with Natives on St. Lawrence Island, radio contact during fieldwork in the southern Brooks Range, and being in the field during the 1967 Fairbanks flood

8) Effects of the Gates of the Arctic National Park on geological work

9) First taking women geologists into the field

10) Geological work near Wild Lake and in the Koyukok Basin related to oil exploration

11) Industry interest in and exploration for oil and minerals in the Brooks Range and the impact of the Gates of the Arctic National Park

12) Purpose of his research and use of his geologic maps for oil exploration

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Russians\ rocks -- study of\ Leningrad Geological Museum\ Chukotka\ St. Lawrence Island\ rocks -- similarities\ Brooks Range -- geology\ geology -- significance\ Canadian Rockies\ Alberta\ oil -- exploration\ rocks -- assemblages\ rocks -- structures\ geology -- contributions\ Prudhoe Bay\ oil -- discovery\ Gryc, George\ National Petroleum Reserve\ people -- Navy Oil Unit\ friendships\ job -- Washington D: C: \ US Geological Survey -- national headquarters\ Stanford University\ graduate school\ US Geological Survey -- Menlo Park\ Navy Oil Unit\ Anchorage|

Section 2: Stanford University\ doctoral thesis\ geological connections -- Brooks Range and Canadian Rockies\ Alberta\ rocks -- formations\ rocks -- structures\ plate tectonics\ Brooks Range -- south edge\ rocks -- accretion\ terrain\ Brooks Range -- age\ geology -- change in approach|

Section 3: fieldwork -- amount of\ fieldwork -- dates\ fieldwork -- summer\ Russia\ family -- join fieldwork\ wife\ Brooks Range\ son\ St. Lawrence Island\ son -- anthropologist\ family -- vacation\ Alaska\ honeymoon\ Fairbanks\ travel -- steamship\ Seattle\ Seward\ travel -- train\ Anchorage\ wife -- work\ job -- legal secretary\ Crevice Creek\ John River\ goldmine\ airstrip\ expedition -- traverse\ brother-in-law -- colonel\ Elmendorf Air Force Base\ family -- visit\ weather -- bad\ Mangus, Marvin -- artist\ painting -- campsite\ Mangus, Marvin -- geologist\ Central America\ Alberta\ Anchorage\ book -- looking at\ paintings -- oil\ photographs\ paintings -- villages\ King Island\ Barter Island\ Kaktovik\ Canning River\ Leffingwell, Ernest|

Section 4: fieldwork\ Nutivukti Lake\ geology -- mapping\ Brooks Range -- south side\ Anderson, Andy -- bush pilot\ Bettles\ Wien Airlines\ airplane -- support\ Everts, Chris\ airplane -- C-46\ fuel -- hauling\ pilots\ Umiat\ Alaska Airlines\ Navy -- contracts\ Transworld Airlines\ flying -- scary experiences\ airplane -- float away\ helicopter\ Shungnak\ Dall Creek\ Cosmos Hills\ Ruby Creek -- camp\ Bear Creek Mining Company\ Kobuk Flats\ airstrip -- Dall Creek\ Bear Creek\ mining camp -- visit\ Gryc, George\ helicopter -- capacity\ helicopter -- number of trips\ weather -- change\ flying -- low\ fog\ pilot -- error\ visibility -- poor\ mountain\ flying -- climb up\ helicopter -- loss of control\ helicopter -- spin\ helicopter -- landing|

Section 5: helicopter -- emergency landing\ helicopter -- auto-rotation\ helicopter -- shallow-dive\ pilot -- experience\ Yakutat\ fog\ San Francisco -- airport\ pilot -- complain about\ bear -- encounters\ rifle\ Brooks Range -- south\ bear -- mauling\ bear protection -- rules\ pistol\ Fairbanks\ Weber, Florence\ Foster, Helen\ bear -- black\ bear -- charging\ bear -- grizzly\ bear -- shooting\ bear -- safety\ helicopter -- benefit of\ bear problems -- lack of|

Section 6: radio communications\ storms -- sun\ storms -- effect on radio\ Umiat\ radio -- repair\ fieldwork -- preparation\ isolation\ boat -- traverse\ Shaktoolik River\ radio contact -- lack of\ Shaktoolik\ helicopter\ radio contact\ St. Lawrence Island\ Natives -- hiring\ airplane\ vehicle -- tracked\ vehicle -- IMP's\ travel -- ease of\ IMP -- benefit of\ tracks -- wide\ aluminum\ vehicle -- retrieval\ Anchorage|

Section 7: St. Lawrence Island\ Native family\ Booshu, Wilbur\ Booshu, Ailene\ Gambell\ St. Lawrence Island -- Northeast Cape\ Nutivukti Lake\ Walker Lake\ radio contact\ Bettles\ Hughes -- roadhouse\ Wien radio\ Weber, Florence\ Fairbanks\ radio -- short wave\ Fairbanks -- flood\ flood -- experience with\ fieldwork -- continued\ helicopter -- use of\ field season -- end of\ flood -- effect of\ hunters -- trapped\ Brooks Range -- weather\ freezing rain|

Section 8: Walker Lake\ Wild Lake\ National Park Service -- regulations\ work -- permission for\ Park -- changes\ helicopter -- flight restrictions\ lake -- flying across\ flying -- noise\ regulations -- effect of\ work -- effect on\ permits\ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act\ Native corporation\ village corporation\ Bureau of Land Management\ National Park Service\ Fish and Wildlife Service\ work -- plan\ Park -- benefit of\ resource development\ North Slope\ camping -- methods of\ attitude -- changes in|

Section 9: geologist -- women\ fieldwork -- women\ women -- partner geologists\ women -- opposition to\ women -- good students\ outdoors -- interest in\ Weber, Florence\ Collins, Florence\ US Geological Survey\ women -- restrictions\ jobs -- non-field\ Naval Arctic Research Laboratory\ Barrow\ Umiat\ women -- lack of\ Navy\ Navy -- contracts\ Greenman, Commodore\ woman geologist -- first in the field\ Moll-Stalcup, Betsy\ McGrath\ geological -- mapping\ maps -- co-author\ Bettles\ Yukon River\ Trans-Alaska Pipeline\ colleagues -- reaction\ field parties -- visit\ Patton, Bill -- sisters\ gender bias -- witnessed|

Section 10: Wild Lake\ Wild Lake -- residents\ prospector\ Bishop, Frank\ Anderson, Andy\ Bettles\ boat -- canvas\ Wild River -- float\ river -- low water level\ Wiseman\ Koyukuk River -- float\ Hughes\ Hog River\ geology\ Brooks Range -- south side\ Koyukuk Basin\ Naval Petroleum Reserve\ oil exploration -- end of\ oil companies\ locations -- new\ survey -- mapping\ oil -- exploration\ Nulato\ drilling\ oil -- leasing|

Section 11: Brooks Range -- central\ industry -- interest in area\ Gates of the Arctic National Park -- impact of\ mining -- exploration\ oil companies -- mining\ oil companies -- merging\ARCO\ Anaconda\ Bear Creek\ exploration -- Alaska\ mining -- potential\ John River\ Cosmos Hill\ Park -- restrictions\ Brooks Range -- potential\ Arctic National Wildlife Refuge\ oil -- lack of\ Red Dog Mine\ Noatak\ mining -- gold\ copper\ mining -- cost of|

Section 12: geology -- research\ geology -- use of\ oil -- exploration\ map -- production\ maps -- use of\ industry\ scientists\ Brooks Range -- geology\ oil development\ Naval Petroleum Reserve\ oil companies\ land -- use of\ Gryc, George\ Navy\ research -- funding\ research -- look for oil\ science -- personal bias\ Navy -- geological crews\ US Geological Survey\ federal government\ geology -- mapping\ rocks -- description\ development -- decision\ science -- funding\ science -- influences on\ federal government -- restrictions\ personal interest -- lack of\ Congress -- money appropriation|