Doug Cook, Honorary Member of the Geological Society of Nevada and past-President of the Society of Economic Geologists, was a graduate of the University of Durham (UK), where he earned a Mining Engineering degree (1945), the University of Toronto, which awarded him a Master’s degree in Mining Geology (1948), and the Colorado School of Mines, where he earned a PhD in Geology in 1952. Doug’s dissertation was on the “Geology of the Pride of the West Vein System, San Juan County, Colorado”. In addition to his comprehensive academic credentials, Doug had an equally impressive career as an exploration geologist and mining executive, and played a pivotal role in mineral discoveries and developing young geologists to become productive members of the economic geology profession.
Doug’s professional career began upon his graduation from the University of Durham when he joined Consolidated African Selection Trust at one of their alluvial diamond mining operations in Sierra Leone. Upon completion of his advanced geologic studies (and completion of his doctoral dissertation at the Colorado School of Mines) he joined Bear Creek Mining Company working first in the Bonanza mining district of south-central Colorado, and subsequently in the Tintic mining district of Utah. During his assignment in the Tintic district he played an important role in the discovery of significant ore deposits at the Bergin and Trixie mines, as well as working with other geologists from the USGS and industry to develop a comprehensive geologic understanding of the ore deposits of the district. From the Tintic program he moved on to become Bear Creek’s Northwest District Manager, and was involved in the programs that resulted in the discoveries of several mineral deposits in the Ambler district on the southern flank of the Brooks Range of Alaska. Doug joined the minerals group of Exxon in 1967, and was initially assigned to the Denver office, and ultimately became the company’s Australian Exploration Manager.
One of Doug’s most notable postings was his appointment to the position of President of the Freeport Exploration Company in 1973. During the ensuing 13 years of his association with the Freeport group of companies he guided a comprehensive and very successful global minerals exploration program that resulted in the discovery of copper deposits in Irian Jaya (Indonesia); gold, diamond and nickel deposits in Western Australia, and gold deposits in Nevada. Most notable of the Nevada discoveries was the Jerritt Canyon district, which was a joint venture with FMC Corporation. There are those in the industry who contend that Freeport’s discovery of the Marlboro Canyon gold mine at Jerritt Canyon was the catalyst for the modern-day “gold rush” in the Great Basin that continues to this day. Doug retired from Freeport in 1987, but continued to serve as an industry consultant and a director of several public mineral companies.
Riz Bigelow, a former associate of Doug’s at Bear Creek, and noted Alaska geologist once characterized Doug in the following way “a geologist who exhibited a propensity for finding mineralization others missed”. Whether others “missed” mineralization at projects or not, Doug’s association with the discoveries is impressive: Jerritt Canyon and Big Springs (Nevada, gold); Karonie (Western Australia, gold); Bow River (Western Australia, alluvial diamonds); Ertsberg East/GBT/Grasberg (Indonesia, copper); and Bergin and Trixie (Utah, lead, zinc, silver).
Exploration successes notwithstanding, his greatest professional accomplishments revolved around the development, teaching and mentoring of young geologists. He was an ardent advocate of “applied exploration research”, for which he assigned members of his staff to conduct detailed studies of specific mineral deposits and develop geologic models of the ore-forming systems. In this manner he created an environment in which to advance the understanding of these geologic processes and advance the knowledge of the researchers themselves. In turn, many members of his staffs have gone on to lead successful exploration programs and participate in the discoveries of new ore deposits at other localities throughout the world.
Doug was not only an excellent geologist and a fine manager, but he was a gentleman of the first order. He held himself to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct, and he taught his staff to do the same through his example. Although Doug passed away in May of 2010 (on the eve of the GSN Symposium) his legacy of excellence lives on by those of us who had the distinct honor and privilege of serving with him.