Lewis E. Workman

1899 to 1990
Subsurface Geology

Lewis E. WorkmanWidely respected as a stratigrapher, teacher, and writer, Lewis Workman's career in the United States and Canada spanned more than 60 years. Born in Ohio, he received a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan in 1921. He taught high school in Leavittsburg, Ohio, before attending the University of Chicago where he obtained an M.S. degree in geology in 1925. That same year, Workman married Salome Wallace and joined the Illinois State Geological Survey as Head of the Subsurface Geology Section.

The Subsurface Geology Section was organized in 1926 by M.M. Leighton, who noted in 1931 that L.E. Workman was the first person at the Survey to devote full time to subsurface geology. Commenting on Workman's study of subsurface samples, Leighton wrote that it had led to "greater economy and efficiency in securing groundwater supplies, in drilling, in proper casing of wells, in correcting or preventing pollution, in determining oil and gas structures, and in ascertaining the mineral resources of the formations." New geological employees at the Survey were given special training by Workman in the study of well cutting samples. He tutored more than a thousand individuals.

As a researcher, Workman authored Subsurface Geology of the Devonian System in Illinois, Deep Drilling and Deeper Oil Possibilities in Illinois, and Subsurface Stratigraphy of the Kinderhook Series in Illinois. All of these were fundamental studies. He also published a number of cross sections and maps depicting subsurface geology. Workman was active elsewhere, too. As Service Secretary of the Illinois Water Well Drillers Association he founded and published the Illinois Water Well Journal, which eventually became the National Drillers Journal with worldwide circulation.

In 1951, Workman moved to western Canada where he was the principal geologist for the Canadian Stratigraphic Service. There he lived out his long, productive life.

Honored by: 
L.E. Workman family, Rollin Workman, James R. Workman, Nathan L. Workman, and Miriam W. Alberg
Citation Contributed by: 
Charles W. Collinson and M.W. Leighton