Robert B. Neuman
Robert B. Neuman
1920 - 2013
Robert Neuman was born (1920) a third generation Washingtonian (DC). He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Subsequently, Bob served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, leaving as a lieutenant. Using the GI Bill to support his graduate education, he earned his PhD in Geology from Johns Hopkins University (1949). That same year, he married Arline (Ross) Neuman and together they spent many years on Shin Pond in northern Maine.
Bob was a scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey at the U.S. National Museum, Washington D.C., from 1949-1985. Following his retirement in 1985 he was an emeritus scientist of the Geological Survey and the Smithsonian Institution. Bob Neuman’s specialty was paleontology, and specifically, brachiopods. Much of his fieldwork and research focused on Early Ordovician brachiopods of the Appalachians in northern Maine with forays into New Brunswick and Newfoundland and the Caledonides of Ireland, Scotland, and Norway. His ‘base’ for field studies was centered in northern Maine, where he conducted fieldwork for more than 30 years. During that time, he worked closely with the Maine Geological Survey.
Robert Neuman made innumerable contributions throughout his career to the geology of Maine and the northern Appalachians. Bob recognized that the Early-Middle Ordovician brachiopods in north central Maine, were of, what he termed, ‘Celtic’ faunal province – an open ocean, peri-Gondwanan fauna quite distinct and separate from Laurentian contemporaries in other Appalachian rocks that lay to the west. He also noted that the Celtic fauna had been eradicated by the Late Ordovician, implying that the early Paleozoic Iapetus Ocean had closed by this time, and that the North American Appalachian margin was colliding with Gondwanan crustal blocks. These findings eventually led to a more accurate portrayal of how the Appalachian chain evolved and of how Paleozoic oceans closed to eventually form the supercontinent of Pangea. Bob’s studies in northern Maine also led to his recognition of an Early Ordovician episode of faulting and folding that he termed the ‘Penobscottian orogeny’, an event now recognized throughout the northern Appalachians.
In 2006, the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail recognized Bob’s contributions to Appalachian geology (the fundamental premise of the IAT) by naming the Grand Pitch lean-to on the East Branch (near Mt. Katahdin) in his honor. Bob was a natural mentor who introduced many students and peers to Appalachian geology through field expeditions.