Hatten S. Yoder, Jr.

Hatten S. Yoder, Jr.


Carnegie Institution Positions:
  • Geophysical Laboratory, staff member (1948-1971)
  • Geophysical Laboratory, director (1971-1986)
  • Geophysical Laboratory, emeritus director (1986-2003)
  • B.S., University of Chicago, 1941
  • Certificate of Professional Proficiency in Meteorology, University of Chicago, 1942
  • Ph.D. in Petrology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1948
  • D.Sc., Unversity of Paris, 1981
  • D.Sc., Colorado School of Mines, 1995
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • Petrologists’ Club, Washington, D.C.
  • American Geophysical Union, president, fellow, council
  • Mineralogical Society of America, fellow, vice-president, president
  • History of Earth Sciences Society, president
  • Geological Society of America, fellow, council
  • Geochemical Society, founding member, council
  • Geological Society of London, honorary fellow
  • American Philosophical Society, council
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, fellow
  • Geological Society of South Africa, fellow
  • Washington Academy of Sciences
  • Mineralogical Society of America Award
  • Columbia University Bicentennial Medal
  • Arthur L. Day Medal (Geological Society of America)
  • Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship (National Academy of Sciences)
  • Wollaston Medal (Geological Society of London)
  • Roebling Medal (Mineralogical Society of America)
  • A. G. Werner Medal (German Mineralogical Society)

Hatten Schuyler Yoder, Jr. was perhaps one of the most loved and respected individuals to ever grace Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory.

Yoder began his career in science as a meteorologist for the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific and Europe. In 1945, he worked side by side with a team of Russian and American meteorologists in Siberia to establish weather monitoring stations before the planned Allied invasion of Japan. Understanding weather conditions was key at this point during the war, as all plans of attack depended heavily upon the weather. Yoder and his colleagues work gave the Allied forces the upper edge through reliable weather forecasting.

(Above) Hatten S. Yoder, Jr. working in the laboratory.



Yoder began his fifty five year association at the Geophysical Laboratory in 1948 as an experimental petrologist. He was appointed director in 1971 and emeritus director in 1986. Only death removed him from his last position.

Yoder experimented in many different fields of science. He investigated the physical chemistry of silicates and sulfides, studied energy in molten systems, and examined the abiotic synthesis of organic compounds. He also conducted seminal studies on several rock-forming minerals like grossular, analcine, phlogopite, muscovite, and ternary feldspars. Yoder’s collaboration with Frank Schairer and Ikuo Kushiro on synthetic systems at high and low temperatures advanced the knowledge of igneous petrogenesis within the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. In 1959, the mineral Yoderite (Mg2(Fe3+,Al)6Si4(O,OH)20) was named in his honor.


Basalt was one of Yoder’s greatest interests. This common volcanic rock was the focus of years of study and dozens of papers. He worked closely with Cecil Tilley to quantify the classical metamorphic facies concept in terms of state variables, pressure, and temperature for basalt. Their studies proposed the idea of the basalt tetrahedron and master flow sheet for igneous rocks. His most famous work on this subject, Generation of Basaltic Magma, was published in 1976. The book firmly established him as a leading expert on the origin of basalt.

Yoder’s interests were not limited to science. A true history buff, he wrote an autobiography about his war experiences entitled The Planned Invasion of Japan (1945): The Siberian Weather Advantage in 1997. He is also the author of Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Volume III, a detailed history of the Geophysical Laboratory from its beginning to 2004 and "Timetable of Petrology," a thorough list of dates in petrology's history from antiquity to present.

On a more personal note, Yoder was a man of honor and justice. He was an avid activist for women and minority’s rights, dictating that “right is right.” He campaigned in the 1960s to desegregate the “white only” restaurant in D.C.’s Willard Hotel.

Yoder was a man of science, principles, and integrity, and displayed inspiring leadership both within and outside the Geophysical Laboratory.

  • Ernst, W. G., Presentation of the Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America for 1992 to Hatten S. Yoder, Jr., American Mineralogist, 78, 850, 1993.
  • Hazen, Robert M., History of Geology Award presented to Hatten S. Yoder, Jr., GSA Today9 (no. 3), 26, March 1999.
  • Levy, Claudia, Minerals Researcher Hatten S. Yoder Dies at 82, The Washington Post, B7, August 9, 2003.
Further Reading:
  • Ernst, W. G., R. M. Hazen, and B. Mysen, Hatten Schuyler Yoder Jr., National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, 2004.
  • Hazen, Robert M., Eloge: Hatten Schuyler Yoder, Jr., Earth Sciences History, 22 (no. 2), 142-145, 2003.
  • Yoder, H. S., Jr., Generation of Basaltic MagmaNational Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1976.
  • Yoder, H. S., Jr. and C. E. Tilley, Origin of basalt magmas: an experimental study of natural and synthetic rock systems, Journal of Petrology, 3, 342-532, 1962.
  • Yoder, Hatten S., Jr., Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Volume III, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004.
  • Yoder, H. S., Jr., Timetable of petrology, Journal of Geological Education, 41, 447-489, 1993.