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Memories of Bill Riedel - Jim Hayes

Most of my association with Bill Riedel was during the 60's and 70's. I came to Columbia (Lamont) in 1960 to study Antarctic cores to see if I could determine when Antarctica became glaciated. This was shortly after the International Geophysical Year (IGY) and Antarctica was one of the foci of that program. The few cores Lamont had from the Antarctic Ocean, at that time, were loaded with diatoms and radiolarians. The Radiolaria had more interesting shapes and there seemed to me, as a completely ignorant graduate student, more species of Radiolaria present than diatoms, so I chose to study the Radiolaria. Bills BANZARE expedition report became my bible and using it I began to identify what I found in the cores.

After some months of work, I traveled to Scripps to show Bill (whom I had never met) what I had done, for there was no one at Lamont, Columbia or anywhere on the East Coast that knew anything about Radiolaria. Bill was so kind, he spent time with me, and when I showed him the preliminary plates I had prepared, he was surprised, as would anyone reading this now be surprised, that I had placed the nassellarians with their apical spines pointing down. He quietly said that that was an interesting way to display them but the convention was the other way around. He agreed to read a late draft of my thesis and when that time came he made a number of useful suggestions.

On that first visit, he encouraged me to also study coccoliths for he was concerned that with the retirement of Bramlett a lot of information about those microfossils and how they could be studied would be lost, for there were few others studying them at the time. Bramlett had developed ingenious ways to study coccoliths with a compound microscope. However, my interest was in Earth History so I thought using radiolarians would be enough and furthermore coccoliths seemed very small and hard to see.

Never the less this was typical of Bill, for he was concerned about the field of micropaleontology and helping those in it, especially those studying radiolarians. His preparing microfiche films of the radiolarian literature, for our use, was a huge benefit to us all.

I think the last time I saw Bill was when he visited Lamont, many years ago and invited Dave Lazarus, who was a student at the time, and me to have a picnic lunch with him in a nearby Park. Dave and I were interested in radiolarian evolution and I think that is what we discussed but my memory about that meeting is vague.

I will remember Bill as a kind man who helped me in my early career and kept me from making a number, of what would have been, embarrassing mistakes.

Jim Hayes
Professor Emeritus
Columbia University
Earth and Environmental Sciences