Hal Bonham Jr.*

Harold F. Bonham (Hal) grew up in southern California and the Pacific Northwest. After a stint in the U.S. Navy in the late 1940s, Hal received an A.A. degree in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951, and then graduated with a B.A. in Geology from U.C.L.A. in 1954. He went to work for the Southern Pacific Company as a geologist in the following year. His work in California and Nevada as field geologist and group leader on geologic mapping and mineral deposits on Southern Pacific Railroad land began his extensive career in Nevada geology. Hal and other S.P. Railroad geologists mapped (at 1:24,000-scale) thousands of square miles of the “checkerboard” land and adjacent areas during this period; some of that time he lived at Toulon.

In 1962 Hal began work toward a M.S. at the University of Nevada’s Mackay School of Mines. He undertook a project to map northern Washoe County, with Vincent P. Gianella as mentor and field partner. With the completion of this thesis and his graduation in 1963, Hal began a 33-year career with the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG). His first job (along with mineral commodity studies) was to complete a geologic map of Washoe and Storey Counties; the bulletin and map were published as NBMG Bulletin 70. Some 1962 travel claims demonstrate the high cost of this effort: $1.00, breakfast; $1.25, lunch; $1.50, dinner; $0.00, lodging (camped out).

Hal, along with a number of other economic geologists, was responsible for the development of ore-deposit models for epithermal and Carlin-type gold deposits. He is the author of NBMG’s million-scale commodity maps for gold and silver, and produced geologic maps in many areas of western Nevada, including the Shoshone Range, Tonopah, and the Reno area.

Hal has maintained an abiding belief in the importance of field geologic studies. Although he expanded his horizons over the years to the study of mineral deposits elsewhere in western North America, South America, and the Far East, he continued to study and publish on Nevada. His resume lists over 100 bulletins, reports, and articles, the majority on Nevada. Over the years, he has been an invited speaker at numerous international meetings, and organizer of many short courses. Before Hal retired from NBMG in 1996, he served as NBMG’s Acting Director from 1992-1995.