Family and friends gathered at the Muddy Rudder Restaurant in Yarmouth, Maine on Thursday, February 27, to wish IAT Chief Geologist Walter Anderson a happy 85th birthday and announce the new Walter Anderson Endowment Fund. Fellow geologists and colleagues on the IAT Maine Chapter board noted Walter’s long career as the Maine State Geologist. Under his direction, maps of the state’s bedrock and surficial geology were updated and a new map of the state’s water aquifer resources was created. Walter also introduced geographic information systems mapping to Maine as part of the process to determine Maine’s suitability to host a deep geologic repository for high level radioactive waste. The answer was “No!”
Walter joined the board of the Maine Chapter of the IAT in 2004 and developed the first maps of the trail in Maine, New Brunswick, Quebec and Newfoundland. From his first days on the board, Walter emphasized the importance of geology to the story of the trail. When a couple of Scottish geologists attended a Geological Society of America meeting in Portland, Maine in 2008, they stopped by a poster prepared by Walter that illustrated the Appalachian orogeny through time, ending with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, those ancient mountains can be found around the rim of the North Atlantic from Alabama to Morocco.
It’s fair to say that Walter’s illustration prompted an invitation to the IAT to attend meetings in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The rest is history! The IAT now winds its way through thirteen countries on three continents, thanks in large part to Walter’s leadership and his teaching about the origin of our common geologic heritage.