Russell R. Dutcher
1927 - 2011

by John C. Crelling
from TSOP Newsletter 28 (1), March 2011
Russell R. Dutcher, an outstanding professor, a talented researcher, a wise administrator, and a distinguished editor of The International Journal of Coal Geology, died on the 15th of February 2011 in Carbondale, IL after a short illness. He was born October 28, 1927, in Brooklyn, NY and was raised in Montclair, NJ and in Sheffield, MA where he graduated from Berkshire School in 1945. He earned his B.A. degree in geology in 1951 from University of Connecticut, his M.S. degree in geology in 1953 from the University of Massachusetts, and his Ph. D. degree in geology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1960.

He then became the assistant director of the Coal Research Section at Penn State where he worked closely with William Spackman. He became a faculty member in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Penn State in 1963. In 1970, he joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) as chair of the Department of Geology. He established the Coal Characterization Laboratory in the department. He was also instrumental in starting the Coal Research Center at SIUC and served as its first director. In 1983 he was appointed Dean of the College of Science at SIUC and served in that position until his retirement in 1993.

His main areas of research were coal carbonization, coal metamorphism, applied coal petrology, and coalbed methane. His research on coal metamorphism due to igneous intrusions of coal seams is still cited and still being followed up by current researchers. He did some of the earliest work using the electron microprobe on coal and mineral matter as well as using laser-mass spectrometry for coal analysis. He also did innovative studies on the microhardness of macerals and high temperature and pressure experimental studies of anthracite coals.

He published 39 journal papers on these topics. He edited the American Society for Testing and Materials Special Technical Publication 661, Field Description of Coal and co-edited the Geological Society of America Special Paper No. 153, Carbonaceous Materials as Indicators of Metamorphism. He also co-edited both the road log and invited papers volumes of the IX International Conference on Coal held in 1979. Based on his early work on coal composition related to carbonization he was a co-recipient of the Outstanding Research Paper of the Year Award from the American Iron and Steel Institute in1960. Forty years later in 2000 he was honored with the Gilbert H. Cady Award from the Coal Geology Division of the Geological Society of America for his outstanding contributions to the field of coal geology.

As a professor he was a gifted and inspiring teacher who demanded the best from his students. He taught courses in physical geology, field geology, and coal petrology. He was well known for his short courses in coal petrology sponsored by the Geological Society of America and the Society for Sedimentary Geology. Under his guidance seventeen students completed their M. S. degrees and three completed their Ph. D. degrees in coal geology and coal petrology. In 1984, he received the Gordon H. Wood Jr. Memorial Award of the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists for outstanding contributions to the science of coal geology and in recognition of a long and distinguished teaching career.

He viewed professional service as a responsibility and served on a number of university, government, civic, and professional committees and organizations. He served as both vice-president and president of the Coal Geology Division of the Geological Society of America, the Society for Organic Petrology, the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the SIUC chapter of the Society of Sigma Xi, the Midwest Coal Section of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, and the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association.

He also served in positions in the American Society for Testing and Materials and the American Institute of Professional Geologists. In recognition of his service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Coal Geology Division of the Geological Society of America, the Martin C. Van Couvering Memorial Award from the American Institute of Professional Geologists for his outstanding contributions, and the first “Russ Dutcher” Distinguished Service Award from the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association.

After the retirement of Willian Spackman, the founder and first editor, he took over the International Journal of Coal Geology as Editor-in Chief. He oversaw the publication of 29 volumes (64 issues) of the journal including 14 special issues. He added a number of talented editors and reviewers, encouraged industrial contributions, and maintained the international nature of the journal. He became honorary editor in January of 1999.