David H. Swann

1915 to 1968
Regional Geology

David H. Swann joined the Illinois State Geological Survey in 1944, after receiving a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan, teaching at Brown University, and working briefly with an oil company in Kentucky. He joined the Oil and Gas Section of the Survey during the Illinois Basin oil boom years of the 1940s. Swann transferred to the Stratigraphy and Areal Geology Section in 1951, becoming a specialist in the stratigraphy of Illinois oil fields. He had a gift for remembering stratigraphic details and organizing them into coherent three-dimensional concepts. This special ability was widely used by colleagues at the Illinois Survey as well as those in adjacent states.

A rugged individualist, Swann enjoyed vigorous scientific discussion. Bold and aggressive in discussions, he was cool and pleasant otherwise-a very nice person. He contributed greatly by testing, stimulating, and reviewing the work of his colleagues.

Diabetic blindness challenged the later years of David's career but barely slowed it. His publications, although few, were seminal, reflecting his encyclopedic knowledge of upper Mississippian rocks. "Subsurface Correlations of Lower Chester Strata of the Eastern Interior Basin," "Classification of Genevievan and Chesterian Rocks of Illinois," and "Late Mississippian Rhythmic Sediments of the Mississippi Valley" all stand as valuable references today. Swann also led the way in Basin studies, tying stratigraphy, structure, and tectonic history together into a unifying synthesis. Outstanding examples of these efforts were his papers, "Habitat of Oil in the Illinois Basin" in American Association of Petroleum Geologists' 1958 volume, Habitat of Oil, and A Summary of Geologic History of the Illinois Basin, published by the Indiana-Kentucky and Illinois Geological Societies in 1968. Because of his broad knowledge, he commonly was the guest speaker in surrounding states, elucidating their geology.

Honored by: 
Lester W. Clutter, Virginia Clutter, and Thomas C. Buschbach
Citation Contributed by: 
Charles W. Collinson