• Sheridan, Robert E.

Robert Sheridan:  a Tribute


 Our colleague at EPS, Robert E. Sheridan, passed away on October 7, 2021. Bob was a dedicated teacher, mentor, and scholar, and he was a strong advocate for a comprehensive, rigorous geologic education. He taught geophysics at introductory and graduate levels, exploration of the oceans, structural geology, and field geology to hundreds of students (photo 1). He will be sorely missed by his students and colleagues.  He is survived by Karen, his wife of 55 years, his daughter Jennifer Hall, his son David and wife Laura, his son Steven, his brother Philip and  wife Deanna, his sisters Elizabeth Balsamo and Patricia Nisler, and grandchildren Justin Hall, Abigail and Rocco Sheridan, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Bob received his B.A. degree in geology from Rutgers University in 1962, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in marine geophysics from Columbia University in 1965 and 1968,respectively. After graduation, Bob proudly served as a private contractor on a U.S. Navy ice-breaker research vessel, acquiring geophysical data around Antarctica and receiving the Antarctica Service Medal from the U.S. Navy for his work.  Bob had a long and distinguished career in academia.  He was a professor at the University of Delaware from 1968 to 1986 and a professor at Rutgers University from 1986 to 2003 where he retired as Professor Emeritus.

  Photo 1 Robert Sheridan fieldtrip 2014
Photo 1                                                 


Photo 2 Bob Glomar Challenger 1975  Photo 2                                                                          


He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a member of both the Structural Geology and Tectonics Division and the Geophysics and Geodynamics Division, a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. 



Bob’s research interests were broad. He was comfortable using data from seismic-reflection and refraction studies, gravity and magnetic surveys, and cores from deep-sea drilling projects. The scale of his research ranged from studies of meter-thick Holocene sequences on the continental shelf to investigations of the structure of the continental crust and upper mantle. He was a recognized expert on the Atlantic continental margin with a publication record that spanned four decades. In 1975, he co-led a deep-sea drilling project on the Glomar Challenger off the east coast of the United States and became one of the first geoscientists to touch recovered methane ice (photo 2). In 1980, he led another deep-sea drilling project off the coast of Florida which encountered the oldest yet recovered sedimentary rocks of the Atlantic Ocean.


During the 1990s, Bob was a key player in the EDGE seismic experiment across the mid-Atlantic continental margin which provided critical information about Paleozoic suturing, buried Appalachian terranes, Mesozoic rifting, and magmatic activity, including high-quality imaging of seaward-dipping reflections. Working on a larger scale, Bob developed a theory called pulsation tectonics in which cyclic lower mantle convection affected the geomagnetic field and subsequently the cyclic fast and slow movements of the tectonic plates, influencing the frequency of continental collision and breakup. Bob was especially proud of his contributions to American naval history for which he used his marine geophysical knowledge to help locate, identify, and recover the wreck of the Civil War ironclad, U.S.S. Monitor.  His book, “Iron from the Deep; The Discovery and Recovery of the U.S.S. Monitor,” provided the first account to detail both the dramatic history of the “ironclad” and the extraordinary attempts to recover her (photos 3A &B). He was present when the USS Monitor’s red signal lantern was recovered (photo 4). It was the last object seen by the Monitor’s crew before she sank in 1862 and it later became the first artifact recovered from the wreck site in 1977. Bob was a scientist with broad interests and outstanding accomplishments. He will be missed.

Photo 3A Book cover Iron from the Deep    Photo 3A

 Photo 3B Cover pagePhoto 3B

 Photo 4 red lantern 400 Photo 4

Gail Ashley & Martha Withjack

BobBob Sheridan at the recovery of the USS Monitor turret