Joseph F. Poland (1908–1991)


  • A. Ivan Johnson


On June 4, 1991, AGU Fellow Joseph Fairfield Poland died in a Sacramento, Calif., hospital at the age of 83 after a long fight with Parkinson's Disease. A recognized expert on land subsidence and a retiree from the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division, his death occurred only 2 weeks after the end of the 4th International Symposium on Land Subsidence, held in Houston, Tex. Frequently known as “Mr. Land Subsidence,” it was appropriate that the proceedings of that symposium had been dedicated to him.

Born in Boston, Poland earned a bachelor's degree in geology from Harvard University in 1929. He was resident geologist for Tropical Oil Company in Colombia from 1929 to 1931. After returning to the United States, Poland earned his master's degree in geology from Stanford University in 1935, taught groundwater hydrology, and consulted on groundwater and geophysical problems in the West and Southwest.