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Episodes 2009; 32(1): 33-40

Published online March 1, 2009


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

The 16th International Geological Congress, Washington, 1933

Clifford M. Nelson

U.S. Geological Survey, 950 National Center, Reston, VA 20192, USA; Email: cnelson@usgs.gov

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In 1933, the International Geological Congress (IGC) returned to the United States of America (USA) for its sixteenth meeting, forty-two years after the 5th IGC convened in Washington. The Geological Society of America and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) supplied the major part of the required extra-registration funding after the effects of the Great Depression influenced the 72nd U.S. Congress not to do so. A reported 1,182 persons or organizations, representing fifty-four countries, registered for the 16th IGC and thirty-four countries sent 141 official delegates. Of the total number of registrants, 665 actually attended the meeting; 500 came from the USA; and fifteen had participated in the 5th IGC. The 16th Meeting convened in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building from 22 to 29 July. The eighteen half-day scientific sections—orogenesis (four), major divisions of the Paleozoic (three), miscellaneous (three), batholiths and related intrusives (two), arid-region geomorphic processes and products (one), fossil man and contemporary faunas (one), geology of copper and other ore deposits (one), geology of petroleum (one), measuring geologic time (one), and zonal relations of metalliferous deposits (one)—included 166 papers, of which fifty (including several of the key contributions) appeared only by title. The Geological Society of Washington, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Bureau of Mines hosted or contributed to evening presentations or receptions. Twenty-eight of the 16th IGC’s thirty new guidebooks and one new USGS Bulletin aided eight premeeting, seven during-meeting, and four post-meeting field trips of local, regional, or national scope. The remaining two new guidebooks outlined the USA’s structural geology and its stratigraphic nomenclature. The 16th IGC published a two-volume monograph on the world’s copper resources (1935) and a two-volume report of its proceedings (1936).