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George Gryc, Part 1

George Gryc was interviewed in his office at the United States Geological Survey, Western Region Center in Menlo Park, California on September 21, 2004 by Karen Brewster. Although George is retired, the USGS has an emeritus program that continues to support scientists with an office, but no salary. George talked about his early days of fieldwork, especially a geological mapping trip in 1946 from Chandler Lake down the Chandler River to the Colville River, being head of the Navy Oil Unit division of USGS, being the chief of the Alaska Branch of USGS, the difference between doing fieldwork and being an administrator, and changes resulting from the establishment of the Park. To learn more about the 1946 expedition see: The Silent River: A Pastoral Elegy in the Form of a Recollection of Arctic Adventure by Charles R. Metzger (Los Angeles, Omega Books, 1983).

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2002-27-19_PT.1

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Sep 21, 2004
Narrator(s): George Gryc
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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1) His early geological expeditions in the Brooks Range and the types of transportation used

2) His personal background, how he got into geology, and how he came to Alaska

3) His advanced studies in geology, and starting to work in geology and do geological field work in Alaska

4) What they did and what they found on his early geological trips, and starting to work for the Navy Oil Unit

5) Summary of Brooks Range and North Slope geology

6) The nature of administrative work, changes in field work during his time, and an early field trip on the Colville River

7) Continuation of Colville River trip and party being stranded, Foran’s expedition in the western Brooks Range, and a short history of the USGS Alaskan Branch

8) The oil exploration program of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska

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: expeditions -- transportation\ vehicle -- Weasel\ Brooks Range\ Patton, Bill\ trip -- Weasel\ Chandler River\ John River -- Hunt Fork\ Lathram, Ernie\ Spetzman, Lloyd\ Weasel -- retrieval\ John River\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Umiat\ Weasel -- river crossing\ tundra -- impact\ Weasel -- tracks\ riverbank -- damage|

Section 2: Gryc, George -- personal background\ St. Paul, Minnesota\ Czechoslovakia\ education\ University of Minnesota\ World War II\ US Geological Survey -- War Minerals Program\ job -- geologist\ Alaska\ mercury\ Kuskokwim River\ Naval Petroleum Reserve\ oil exploration\ Foran, William\ aerial reviews\ Umiat Anticline\ oil seepage\ Umiat Mountain\ anticline\ oil -- occurrence of\ geology -- Naval Petroleum Reserve (NPRA)\ US Geological Survey\ Coates, Robert\ Umiat Anticline -- stratigraphy\ Wien Airlines\ Wien, Sig\ Wien, Noel\ Fairbanks\ airplane -- Bellanca\ North Slope\ Colville River\ Prince Creek\ field trip -- recording rocks|

Section 3: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland\ PhD program\ Washington, D.C.\ US Geological Survey -- Alaska Branch\ US Navy\ Barrow\ Umiat -- 1945\ access -- river\ Brooks Range\ Arctic Ocean\ Chukchi Sea\ Beaufort Sea\ field trips -- overview by date and route\ Colville River\ Chandler River\ Anaktuvuk River\ Killik River\ North Slope -- geology\ Umiat Anticline\ North Slope -- coastal plain\ Sagavanirktok River\ Shaviovik River\ Canning River\ oil exploration -- program goals\ oil exploration -- technology\ rock -- paleozoic\ rock -- Lisburne limestone\ Kanayut Lake\ Anaktuvuk River\ Shainin Lake\ Brosge, Bill\ Lisburne limestone -- mapping\ Shainin, Vince\ University of Maine -- Orno\ lake -- drowning\ accident\ helicopter\ lake -- break-up\ ice -- pencil\ Brooks Range\ Gates of the Arctic National Park|

Section 4: exploration\ discoveries\ Lisburne limestone -- explanation\ Lisburne limestone -- mapping\ sample -- collecting\ rock -- description\ rock -- permeability\ Lisburne limestone -- type section\ Cape Lisburne\ exploration\ geologist -- Schrader\ geologist -- Peters\ Anaktuvuk River\ expedition -- route\ Barrow\ expedition -- traverse\ geology -- first description\ Canning River\ Leffingwell, Ernest de K.\ United States Geological Survey -- publication\ job -- administrative\ fieldwork -- supervision\ Navy Oil Unit -- chief\ United States Geological Survey -- Alaska Branch\ President Eisenhower\ program -- end of\ program results -- publication of\ drilling results -- availability\ Anchorage\ State of Alaska -- core laboratory\ cores -- collection of\ research -- results\ rock -- cretaceous rocks\ rock -- reservoir rocks\ rock -- source rocks\ oil -- deposits\ rock -- porous\ oil -- trapped\ mapping -- structure\ United States Navy\ oil industry\ North Slope -- access\ land -- availability\ Alaska -- statehood\ land -- selection|

Section 5: National Park Service\ Brooks Range\ Arctic National Wildlife Range -- designation\ President Lyndon Johnson\ Brooks Range -- geology\ North Slope -- sedimentary basin\ rock -- exposure\ rocks -- Mesozoic rocks\ rocks -- ages of\ rocks -- Paleozoic\ mountains -- thrusted\ erosion\ rock -- exposure\ geological feature -- Barrow high\ oil -- deposits\ basin -- description of\ Barrow\ Beaufort Sea\ oil -- geologic history\ stratigraphy\ rock -- naming\ geologist -- Schrader\ uplift\ subsidence\ geology -- structure\ Brooks Range -- early geological exploration\ geologist -- Smith\ geologist -- Mertie\ mineral deposits\ Tallieur, Irv\ mapping -- western Brooks Range\ Red Dog Mine\ zinc\ coal -- North Slope\ coal -- development\ Project Chariot\ Cape Lisburne -- port\ coal bed methane\ energy resources|

Section 6: job -- chief geologists office\ job -- administrative\ Washington, D.C.\ work -- administrative vs. fieldwork\ US Geological Survey -- Alaska Branch\ US Geological Survey -- Menlo Park Regional Center\ US Geological Survey Regional Center -- Denver, Colorado\ regional center -- purpose\ geology -- applied\ US Geological Survey -- field center\ Menlo Park, California\ job -- chief of Alaska Branch\ job -- enjoyment of\ fieldwork -- changes in\ helicopter\ tracked vehicle -- Weasel\ data -- collection\ data -- reporting\ fieldwork -- walking\ helicopter -- benefits of\ observations\ Tallieur, Irv\ Brosge, Bill\ Mull, Gil\ expedition -- early\ isolation\ Chandler River\ Chandler Lake\ mail -- dropped\ Wien, Sig\ plane -- floatplane\ supplies\ hunting -- caribou\ radio\ Umiat\ Coats, Bob\ Colville River\ radio -- lack of\ contact -- lack of\ Wien Airlines\ pick-up\ Chandler River\ US Navy\ Barrow\ expedition -- stranded\ food -- ran out\ visitors\ Fort Yukon\ Reed, John\ Dorsey, George\ pilot -- fired\ pick -up -- forgotten|

Section 7: expedition -- stranded\ escape -- plan\ Arctic coast\ Native camps\ Colville River\ survival\ equipment -- lack of\ boat -- collapsible kayak\ boat -- life raft\ supplies -- hauling\ Roussopoulos, Harold\ camp cook\ equipment -- geological\ hammers\ sample bags\ compasses\ acid\ rocks -- calcium\ map -- North Slope\ geologist -- Mertie\ geologist -- Smith\ Chandler River\ map -- lack of\ mapping -- transit\ aerial photo -- lack of\ topographic -- description\ exposures -- Colville River\ Umiat\ Ocean Point\ rock -- sequence\ US Navy -- fieldwork\ Foran, William\ US Geological Survey\ Utukok River -- traverse\ Brooks Range\ Nimiuktuk River\ Kugururok River\ Noatak River\ boat -- canoe\ river -- drainages\ portage\ food -- lack of\ food -- gull\ people -- relationships\ Native people\ Kotzebue\ USGS Alaskan branch -- history\ geologist -- Brooks\ USGS Alaskan branch -- publications\ Bureau of Mines|

Section 8: job -- chief of Alaskan branch\ Arab oil embargo\ Atlantic Richfield Company\ oil -- discovery\ Prudhoe Bay\ US Navy\ oil -- exploration\ Naval Petroleum Reserve #4\ oil -- wells\ geology -- Barrow Arch\ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act\ NPR #4 -- transfer of\ Department of Interior\ National Petroleum Reserve Alaska\ Bureau of Land Management\ NPRA -- administrative program\ NPRA -- exploration program\ US Geological Survey\ McElvey, Dr.\ job -- Office of National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska\ oil -- drilling program\ drilling program -- opposition to\ NPRA -- evaluation of\ program -- “plays”\ drilling -- locations\ Husky Oil -- contract\ oil well -- first\ USGS -- oversee contract\ staff\ Department of Defense -- contracting office|