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    Max Demarest

    Encyclopedia Arctica 15: Biographies

    001      |      Vol_XV-0237                                                                                                                  

    (William H. Hobbs)


            Max (Harrison) Demarest (1910-1942). Scientist and Greenland

    Explorer. Specialist in structure of glacial ice.

            Max Demarest was born at Flint, Michigan, February 18, 1910, the son

    of Harry and Mabel Slayton Demarest. His father was official stenographer

    of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court at Michigan. Max, after graduation

    from the Flint Junior College, entered the University of Michigan in 1929,

    where he specialized in geology. He was graduated from that University in

    1934 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. While still an undergraduate he

    was appointed an assistant in the Geological Department of the University.

    In the year 1930-1931 (summer to summer) he went to Greenland as meteorolo–

    gist of the Northern Party of the Third University of Michigan Greenland

    Expedition, which was led by William S. Carlson. This party was based at

    Angparlartok near Upernivik in about latitude 73° N. Their experiences

    there have been described in a book by the leader ( Greenland Lies North ,

    New York, Macmillan, p. 306, illus., 1940). Demarest was next in Greenland

    in 1932-33 as meteorologist of the University of Michigan-Pan American

    Airways Expedition under the leadership of Dr. Ralph L. Belknap. The base

    (Peary Lodge) was on the Upper Nugsuak Peninsula of Northwest Greenland.

    In both this and the earlier expedition Demarest had charge of the aerological

    work, daily pilot-baloon ascents for study of the upper air currents. On the

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    EA-Biog. Hobbs: Max Demarest

    later of these expeditions he was navigator of the sledge party in the

    difficult journey which accomplished the relief of Belknap from a seven

    weeks' vigil at Camp Watkins, which was about three hundred miles to the

    east on the inland ice.

            After his graduation in 1934 Demarest took up graduate study in

    geology at the University of Cincinnati and was given the degree of Master

    of Science in 1936. In 1934 he had married, at Cincinnati, Rebecca Humphreys.

    He continued his graduate studies at Princeton University, where he held the

    position of Assistant Instructor, and where he received the degree of Doctor

    of Philosophy in 1938. He was then appointed Assistant Professor of Geology

    at the University of North Dakota. Here he began his studies of the structure

    of glacial ice and the nature of its motion, studies which with interruptions

    he continued until his death in 1942.

            On a Guggonheim Fellowship this research was vigorously pursued at

    Yale University as Sterling Fellow of the University and National Research

    Fellow in geology. After two years of research at Yale University, Demarest

    was called to Wesleyan University at Middletown, Ct., as Acting Chairman of

    the Department of Geology.

            In 1942 Demarest was commissioned First Lieutenant in the United

    States Air Force, and by air transport he left for Greenland in July on a

    secret mission. In the following December news of his death in Greenland

    was given out by the War Department. It was later to be learned that he

    had been killed, together with Staff Sergeant Don T. Tetley, when, in an

    attempt to rescue the crew of a Flying Fortress which had crashed on the

    inland ice of East Greenland, their motor sled had broken through the snow

    bridge over a crevasse, precipitating them to the bottom far below. When,

    much later, a rescue party had reached the scene of the accident, the tail

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    EA-Biog. Hobbs: Max Demarest

    of the wrecked tractor could be seen, but the bodies of the two officers

    were never recovered. Demarest left a widow and a five-year old daughter.

    Mrs. Demarest had been able to assist her husband in his research on ice.

            Demarest was regarded as one of the outstanding scientists in his

    field of glacial research. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of

    America, member of the American Geophysical Union, the International Committee

    on Snow, and the Explorer's Club. His portrait, painted by Mrs. Patricia

    H. Stratton, hangs in the Geological Department of the University of Michigan.

            Publications by Dr. Demarest are the following:

            Glaciation of the Upper Nugsuak Peninsula, West Greenland, Zeitsch. f.Gletscherkunde

    36-56, 2 ple., 2 figs., inclu. index map, 1937. Ice flowage as revealed

    by glacial striae. Jour. Geol ., 46 , 700-725, 13 figs., 1938. Glacial Research

    for an expedition to North Greenland. Amer. Geophys. Union Trans . 19th Ann.

    Mett. Pt. U, 492-497, 1 fig. map Nat. Research Council, 1938. Glacial movement s

    and erosion; a criticism. Amer. Jour. Sci ., 237 , 594-605, 1939. The rock called

    ice, New York Acad. Sci. Trans. , ser. 2, 3 , 25-28, 1940. Critical structural

    features of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyo., Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull. 52 , 161-176,

    4 pls. inclu. geol. maps, 3 figs., 1941. (With R. F. Flint, and A. L. Washburn)

    Glaciation of Shickshock Mountains, Gaspe Peninsula (Abstract) Geol. Soc. Amer .

    Bull ., 52 , 1901, 1941. Greenland's glacial anticyclone; a review, Amer. Jour .

    Sci ., 239 , 771-778, 1941. Ice deformation in the flow of glaciers (abstract)

    Amer. Geophys. Union, Trans. 22nd Ann. Mtg. , Pt. 2, p. 525; Nat. Research Council ,

    Aug. 1941; Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull. , 52 , p. 1897, 1941. Techniques for making thin

    section studies of glacier ice (abstract) Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull ., 52 , p. 2013,

    1941. Glacier flow and its bearing on the classification of gvlaciers (abstract)

    Geol. Soc. Amer ., Bull. , 52, 2024-2025, 1941. (With R. F. Flint) Glacier thinning

    during deglaciation, pt. I, Amer. Jour. Sci. , 240, 29-66, 1942. Ice sheets,

    Geol. Soc. Amer ., Bull. , 54 , 363-400, 1 pl., 16 figs. 1943 (published posthumously).


    William H. Hobbs

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