Alan Mara Bateman


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Bateman title photo

Alan Mara Bateman, undated.
Source: Mining Engineering Magazine, 1964

After working for more than half a century as the Editor of the journal Economic Geology, Alan Mara Bateman died at his home in New Haven, Connecticut, at the age of 82. Thus ended more than 60 years of highly competent and devoted service to the field of economic geology, the mining industry and to his country. His in-depth understanding of the Kennecott-type copper-silver deposits in the Wrangell Mountains of South-Central Alaska formed the foundation of a new ore deposit type in the field of economic geology. Bateman's recommendations to decision makers, including Alaska Mining Hall of Fame inductees Stephen Birch and Earl Tappen Stannard, were important to the early success of Alaska's 'home grown' Kennecott Copper Corporation, which would become the world's largest copper producer by the mid-20th-Century.

Alan Bateman was born on January 6th, 1889, in Kingston, Ontario, one of four children from the family of George Bateman and Elizabeth Mara Bateman. Alan shared the same middle name with his mother Elizabeth. Alan's father whetted his children's interest in practical knowledge, and taught Alan carpentry, plumbing and wiring skills before he was ten years old. Alan's father George was also an ardent outdoorsman, and taught Alan expert camping and sport fishing skills while spending time at their summer home in the Thousand Islands, an archipelago of more than 1,800 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence region. Memories of these early outdoor experiences would give Alan pleasure for his entire life.

Alan entered Queens University in 1906. One of Bateman's classmates remembered him as:

"A very active, red-haired and burly hell raiser, but otherwise an excellent student."
The strong, athletic Alan Bateman played varsity football and soccer. But Bateman was also an accomplished musician and a star performer in the Queens University Mandolin and Guitar Club.

Alan's interest in economic geology began while he was still an undergraduate at Queens. From 1907-to-1910, Alan was employed as a prospector in the Chibougamau district of Ontario, under the direction of economic geologist A. E. Barlow. He gained a reputation as being a savvy and successful exploration hand adept at operating in remote, bush conditions.

After his graduation from Queens in 1910 with a Bachelors Degree in Mining Engineering and Geology, Alan Bateman entered graduate school at Yale University, which began a long association with that institution. Although his main interest from the onset was the field of economic geology under the mentorship of John D. Irving, he was also influenced by Yale's talented faculty, which included igneous petrologist L. V. Pirsson, and the well-known mineralogists Edward S. Dana and William E. Ford.

During the summer of 1911-1912, Bateman served as Assistant Geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada in the Bridge River gold mining district in southern British Columbia, Canada. His work there formed the basis for his dissertation entitled: "Geology and ore deposits of the Bridge River district, British Columbia". The thesis earned Alan M. Bateman a Ph. D. in Geology in 1913 at Yale University.

After completing his post-graduate education, Bateman joined two other geologists to carry out the Secondary Enrichment Investigation project, a scientific research effort inspired by L. C. Graton and largely funded by several large mining companies. The research effort combined both field observations and laboratory experiments in order to better understand secondary enrichment mechanisms, with a large emphasis on bulk tonnage, low grade copper deposits. The work resulted in the publication of many papers from Yale's Geophysical Laboratory, which for years influenced scientific studies of secondary enrichment and sulfide systems, and with direct applications to mineral exploration.

In June, 1916, Alan Bateman married Grace Hotchkiss Street of New Haven, Connecticut. She would accompany Alan on numerous international consulting trips during his long career in economic geology. Their family would include close relatives and contemporaries during Alan's long professional career.

As part of the Secondary Enrichment Investigations, Bateman, accompanied by his wife Grace, first visited Kennecott, Alaska in 1916. The Kennecott mines contained world renowned concentrations of high grade chalcocite hosted in Triassic Limestone above the Nikolai Greenstone, a basalt-dominated complex also of Triassic age. Through a 27 year production period, the mines would eventually produce nearly 600,000 tons of copper and millions of ounces of byproduct silver from about 4.5 million tons of ore — at an average mill head grade of 13 percent copper. Ores and concentrates were shipped from mine sites in the Wrangell Mountains by rail to Cordova, where they were loaded onto ships for transport to smelters. By the time Bateman visited the site, it was already in operation and had reached maximum copper production levels during the high prices caused by World War I — then known as 'The Great War'.

St. Lawrence country

The Thousand Islands archipelago in the Saint Lawrence Region, US-Canada Border,
where Alan Bateman spent much of his youth.
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Many years later, Alan Bateman would relate to an interviewer, Henry Carlisle, the following about the Kennecott deposits in Alaska:

"The Kennecott deposits are among the most unique mineral deposits in the entire world. When they were found, they (the Syndicate) didn't recognize what they might be, but took a chance on building a railroad in there (the Wrangell Mountains) for 196 miles, and it turned into an unusual Bonanza. There was one ore body that was 113 feet wide. It was solid chalcocite. You could look at the back across the stope and not see a bit of limestone. From the deposits, railcar after railcar would carry out un-milled ores averaging 75% copper".

Bateman knew many of the early Kennecott pioneers. He was a good friend of Henry DeWitt Smith, who was then the General Superintendent of the Kennecott mines in Alaska. Alan and Henry were students at Yale, and Alan served as an usher at Henry's wedding. Henry took his wife to Alaska in the spring of 1916. Alan would bring his new bride to Alaska three months later. Upon arriving at Kennecott, Alan became acquainted with Stephen Birch, the President of Kennecott Copper Corporation and Earl Tappan Stannard, who was then mine manager and later the President of the company. Stannard himself was a graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale. After Stannard became President of Kennecott, Dave Irwin became mine manager. Dave, who was also at the mine site during Bateman's visit, was also a classmate of Alan Bateman at Yale. Wesley Earl Dunkle, one of the first geologists to work at Kennecott and later a well-known Alaskan leader, was also a graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale. In many ways, Kennecott, Alaska was a Yale University mining camp!

After Kennecott President Stephen Birch returned to the East coast, he cabled Alan Bateman:

"Do you think we should obtain the Mother Lode mine? Dr. Godfrey, the President of that firm, won't talk to me. See if you can obtain permission to examine. Need to make a decision soon".

The Kennecott mines in Alaska were actually several, spatially separated mineral deposits — the Jumbo, Bonanza, Mother Lode, and Erie deposits. The Mother Lode deposit was on the north side of a prominent ridgeline, whereas the Bonanza deposit was on the south side of the prominent ridge. Bateman obtained permission from Godfrey, the property owner, to inspect the Mother Lode mine, and he spent two long days examining the property. At the time of Bateman's visit, the deposit was being mined by the Mother Lode Coalition Mines Company at a relatively small scale, essentially high-grading massive chalcocite lenses, with infrastructure based in McCarthy Creek east of Kennecott. Besides recognizing key features common to both deposits, Bateman concluded that the Mother Lode deposit projected along the same high angle fault plane as the Bonanza deposit and was hence a continuation of the latter deposit.

Bateman finished the inspection at midnight of the second day and crawled up a slippery talus slope over the mountain to the Kennecott side. He reached the Kennecott camp early in the morning, where Mine Manager E.T. Stannard had coffee waiting for him and a gas rail car to rush him to Chitina so that he could catch the morning train to Cordova — and a ship to Seattle. But alas — the gas rail car train from the mine site to Chitina got stuck in a landslide, an all too common mishap along that portion of the route. But the company found another gas rail car, and Bateman made it to Chitina in time to catch the train for Cordova. From then on, he made all the connections to the East Coast and in a few days sat in the office of Stephen Birch in New York. He laid out his geologic reasoning to Birch and told him to acquire the Mother Lode Mine. Based on Bateman's recommendations, Birch decided to begin the acquisition of the Mother Lode Coalition Mines Company, which took a period of time. The Mother Lode was placed into production by Kennecott in 1919, and it became an important source of high grade chalcocite ores for Kennecott's Alaska operation — especially in later years.

photo of gas rail car

'Gas Rail Car' of the type used by Bateman on his hurried trip from McCarthy to Chitina in 1916

It should be noted that Alaska Mining Hall of Fame inductee Wesley Earl Dunkle had also inspected the Mother Lode Coalition Mines property on a previous visit and concluded that the ore body was a continuation of the Bonanza deposit to the southwest. Although Dunkle recommended to company management that the Mother Lode Coalition property be acquired, Stannard obviously wanted a second opinion on the matter.

That initial recommendation solidified Bateman's relationship with Birch and Kennecott Copper Corporation. His next Kennecott assignment was to examine the properties of Utah Copper west of Salt Lake City Utah, now known as the Bingham Canyon district. Like the Mother Lode in Alaska, Bateman liked what he saw and, after forwarding his recommendations to Birch, joined Louis Gates and several Kennecott professionals in the office of J.P. Morgan and Company to work out a deal. Ultimately Kennecott would acquire Utah Copper from D.C. Jackling, which would become one of the world's largest copper mines.

Alan's assistant during his first trip to Kennecott was Don McLaughlin, who was just beginning his economic geology career. Bateman and McLaughlin would later publish a classic paper in Economic Geology (in 1920) that described the deposits at Kennecott, Alaska. Bateman made a number of trips to Kennecott over the years. He described a new Kennecott deposit at Glacier Creek east of Kennecott that he helped discover in the late 1920s. Bateman worked with one his students, S.G. Lasky, on refining the structural controls and mineralogy of ores at Kennecott, publishing those results in 1932. Bateman's final paper on the Kennecott deposits, which emphasized the structural controls of the ores, was published at the onset of WWII.

Bateman was an important economic geology consultant for Kennecott from 1916 to 1942, and then briefly during the 1950s. He worked in Rhodesia, Rio Tinto in Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Tanganyika, the Belgian Congo, and Kenya. He consulted extensively throughout Europe between the two world wars and would also consult in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, as well as nearly all countries in North America. Bateman traveled to and reviewed mine projects in India, China, Japan and the newly created Soviet Union. Although global coverage can be more easily accomplished today in a world connected by international aviation, Alan Bateman was, without question, one of the most traveled mining consultants of his generation.

In 1915, Bateman returned to Yale University as an Instructor in Economic Geology under John Irving, who was the editor of the journal Economic Geology. At the entrance of the United States into the Great War (WWI), Irving took a leave of absence from Yale and was appointed a Captain in the United States Army Engineers, aka the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Irving served in an engineering division involved with railroad building. In 1918, he died of pneumonia following a bout with the flu.

In July, 1918, Alan Bateman was made the Assistant Editor of Economic Geology and appointed Editor of that journal in March, 1919. At Yale, he initially substituted for Irving during the latter's absence in Europe and then made Professor of Economic Geology upon Irving's death. He was made Associate Professor in 1922, Professor in 1925, and Silliman Professor in 1941. Following his return from government service in Washington after WWII, he became the Geology Department Chair at Yale, which he retained until 1957.

map of Kennecott claims

Map illustrating locations of differing claim groups in Kennecott area circa 1939. At the time of Bateman's 1916 visit, the Mother Lode Coalition Mines was operated separately and not a Kennecott property.
Map Source: Douglass, 1964.

From 1942 to 1945, Bateman served as the Director of the Metals and Minerals Branch of the Board of Economic Warfare (BEW), later the Foreign Economic Administration (FEA). When the United States entered WWII in December, 1941, the Roosevelt Administration became ruefully aware that the country would have to depend on more than 60 metals and minerals to maintain its war industries instead of the dozen or so commodities that had been previously thought to be critical before the war. Bateman's broad base of knowledge of the minerals industry and its people enabled him to recruit a top flight staff of dedicated professionals knowledgeable in geology, mining technologies, ore concentration, metallurgy, transportation logistics, and energy issues as they relate to mining. After the war, he described with some pride the degree of success achieved by this group, which included both private and public sector participants. One, for example, was Alaska Mining Hall of Fame inductee and U.S. Geological Survey geologist Stephen R. Capps, who helped locate manganese deposits in Brazil for the war effort. Bateman would continue to work with the BEW and FEA after the war and serve on several strategic and critical minerals boards.

Probably Bateman's most important achievement was his editorship of the journal Economic Geology. For all practical purposes, Alan was editor from the time Irving left Yale in the spring of 1917 until 1969, a term of 52 years, plus an additional seven months in 1970, when he filled in during a sabbatical leave of his successor. For most of that time, the journal was pretty much a one man show. Amazingly, he consistently maintained the journal's international prominence as a forum for those interested in mineral deposits. At the same time, he taught classes at Yale, chaired for a time the Geology Department of that institution, and consulted during summer months, well into the late 1950s. How he accomplished all of these tasks and more--and he did them well--is truly mind boggling.

Bateman was an accomplished author. His textbook — Economic Mineral Deposits, first published by John Wiley and Sons in 1942, was popular with teachers of economic geology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The second revised edition, released in 1950, sold more than 40,000 copies, and appeared in the English, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean languages. Shortly before Bateman died in 1971, he asked his close friend and colleague, Mead Jensen, from the University of Utah, to prepare a third edition of Economic Mineral Deposits. Bateman felt that it was important to keep up with changing times and technology, and a new edition was necessary to accomplish this goal. The third edition, which was eventually published in 1981 with Jensen as lead author, offered a broad perspective of mineral deposits. The third edition of Economic Mineral Deposits not only updated metallic mineral production and exploration and ore deposit types, but included a large section on industrial minerals and their uses, energy minerals, including coal, uranium, and petroleum, and how mineral use has changed through time.

Bateman himself made contributions to scientific theory. His principle article of the Kennecott deposits, which was published with Don McLaughlin in 1920, advocated that the chalcocite had a primary hypogene origin, and believed that the copper was sourced from the underlying Nikolai Greenstone via circulation of meteoric waters. His principle opponent of this theory was his boss during the Secondary Enrichment Program, L.C. Graton, who advocated a secondary oxidizing process for the formation of the ore deposits. Although he would be challenged again by economic geologist Ed MacKevett and his colleagues during the 1970s-1990s, a primary hypogene origin for the Kennecott deposits in Alaska has prevailed. The newest twist for the formation of the Kennecott deposits as advocated by Jason Price and his colleagues invokes low grade regional metamorphic fluids as a mobilizing source for the copper. Bateman's theories on magmatic origins for some large iron deposits; i.e., Kiruna in Sweden, have also survived the test of time although new researchers continue to debate how those great Swedish iron deposits formed.

Alan Bateman was honored in many ways throughout his career and his numerous awards, which will only be summarized here. He was a member of many professional organizations, including the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA), the Geological Society of America (GSA), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). Bateman was the President of the SEG in 1940 and awarded that organization's Penrose Metal in 1962. At Yale, he served for many years on the executive committee of the Sheffield Scientific School. In 1970, Queens University awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Science degree. In January, 1971, shortly before his death, a special issue of Economic Geology was dedicated to him.

Outwardly, Alan Bateman radiated a well justified self assurance that, combined with his impressive physique, produced an almost Olympian air. Yet he was a warm and kindly man. He liked people, and rarely ever downgraded a colleague — even during intense debates about this or that scientific theory. Bateman would bend over backward to avoid making a student uncomfortable. Bateman was an enthusiastic sportsman for nearly his entire life, and fished for Brook Trout and Atlantic Salmon in Canada; he also caught Bluefish and sailed extensively off the east coast of the United States. It was hard to persuade him to retire as editor of Economic Geology, despite a serious disabling operation on his lower jaw, which would ultimately contribute to a painful death.

Alan Bateman would continue an association with Alaskan mineral deposits well into the 20th Century. He was an advisor to Kennecott Copper Corporation during the mid-1950s, when Kennecott returned to Alaska to review properties and mines in an effort to revive its roots. Kennecott decided that there was insufficient ore potential to justify the reopening the famed Kennecott mines — especially in lieu of the lack of surface transportation and energy infrastructure. The Copper River and Northwestern Railroad had long been abandoned. But Kennecott and its exploration arm, Bear Creek Mining Company, did look at and ultimately acquire the promising Bornite, carbonate-hosted, copper-cobalt deposit in the southern Brooks Range from Alaska Mining Hall of Fame inductee Rheinhart Berg. Bateman joined others to recommend the property to the company. After years of dormancy, Bornite is now getting a new look with a diamond drill core exploration program, computer-based deposit modeling, and an economic analysis by NovaCopper, Inc., a Vancouver-based firm.

Just seven years before his death, Alan Bateman recalled in an interview with Mining Engineering Magazine his first involvement as a mines consultant, when he visited Kennecott, Alaska. He remembered the importance of those properties to an emerging giant in the mining industry. In that interview, he stated:

"Few people realize that the great Kennecott Copper Corporation, with its big Utah Copper Corporation (Bingham Canyon), Nevada Consolidated (in Nevada), Chino Copper and Ray Consolidated (in Arizona), and the Braden mine in Chile all originated from the small mines at Kennecott, Alaska."

Written by Thomas K. Bundtzen, October 21, 2014


The writer appreciates the review comments of Brian Skinner, a long-time editor of the journal Economic Geology and friend and colleague of Alan Bateman.

Selected Bibliography

Bateman, A.M., 1914, Lillooet Map area, British Columbia, Canadian Geological Survey Summary Report, Pages 188-210.

Bateman, A.M., 1932, Notes on a Kennecott type of copper deposit — Glacier Creek, Alaska: Economic Geology, Volume 27, Pages 297-306.

Bateman, A. M., 1942a, Economic Mineral Deposits, 1st Edition: New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 855 pages.

Bateman, A.M., 1942b, The ore deposits of Kennecott, Alaska, in, Newhouse, W.H., editor, Ore deposits as Related to Structural Features: Princeton University Press, pages 188-193.

Bateman, A.M., 1946, Wartime dependence on foreign minerals: Economic Geology, Volume 41, pages 308-327.

Bateman, A. M., 1950, The Formation of Mineral Deposits, 2nd Edition: New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 916 pages.

Bateman, A.M., 1951, The formation of late magmatic oxide deposits: Economic Geology, Volume 46, pages 404-426.

Bateman, A.M., and McLaughlin, D.H., 1920, Geology of the ore deposits at Kennecott, Alaska: Economic Geology, Volume 15, pages 1-80.

Bateman, A.M., and Lasky, S.G., 1932, Covellite-chalcocite solid solution and exsolution: Economic Geology, volume 27, pages 52-86.

Carlisle, Henry, 1964, An Interview with Alan M. Bateman: Mining Engineering Magazine, November, 1964, pages 74-77.

Douglass, W. C., 1964, A history of the Kennecott Mines, Kennecott, Alaska: Published by Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mines and Minerals, 29 pages.

Jensen, M.L., and Bateman, A.M., 1981, Economic Mineral Deposits, 3rd Edition, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 589 pages.

Lasky, S.G., 1929, Transverse faults at Kennecott and their relations to the main fault systems: American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers: Volume 85, pages 303-317.

MacKevett, E.M. Jr., Cox, D.P., Potter, R.W., and Silberman, M. L., 1997, Kennecott-type deposits in the Wrangell Mountains, Alaska — high grade copper ores near a basalt-limestone contact: Economic Geology Monograph #9, pages 66-89.

Price, J.B., Hitzman, M.W., Nelson, E.P., Humphrey, J.D., and Johnson, C.A., 2014, Wall-rock alteration, structural control, and stable isotope systematics of the high grade copper ore bodies of the Kennecott district: Economic Geology Volume 109, pages 581-620.

Skinner, Brian, Editor, 1971, An Issue Dedicated to Alan Mara Bateman: Economic Geology, Volume 66, Number 1, 214 pages.

White, W.S., 1973, Memorial top Alan Mara Bateman: American Mineralogist, Volume 58, pages 364-367.

from a painting of Bateman

Alan Mara Bateman 1889-1971; From a painting by Deane Keller, presented by Bateman's students in 1958.
Reproduced from Economic Geology, September-October, 1971, Volume 66, page 1

book cover scan

Revised Printing of Economic Mineral Deposits, which was released in 1981 — about ten years after Bateman's death in 1971
From writer's library

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