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In memoriam – Dr. Charles E. “Chuck” Chapin

“Heavy-duty fieldwork at Bonanza caldera, 2010.” Peter Lipman on the left, Chuck Chapin on the right. Photo provided by Peter Lipman
(click for a larger version)

By Nelia Dunbar

March 19, 2024

Chuck Chapin, who directed the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources from 1990–1999, passed away peacefully at his home in Albuquerque on March 14, 2024. He was 91.

Chuck, who grew up in Washington State and trained at Colorado School of Mines, began his career at New Mexico Tech in 1965. He joined the Bureau of Geology from the NMT Geoscience Department in 1970. He was a visionary, creative, and insightful geoscientist who shaped our thinking about Laramide tectonics, Cenozoic volcanism, and the Rio Grande rift in New Mexico. Chuck was a strong mentor and, during his career, provided valuable instruction and encouragement to many staff members at the Bureau of Geology, as well as to a wide group of geoscience students. He was a kind person with a good sense of humor who was unafraid to speak his mind.

We are preparing a longer memorial piece honoring Chuck’s life and career. If you have an anecdote about Chuck or a photo you would like to share, please send those to