John D. Haun, AAPG past president and Sidney Powers Memorial Award recipient, died peacefully on Aug. 8, 2020 at his home in Evergreen, Colo. John was 99 years old, alert and cheerful to the end.
His contributions to the monthly activities of AAPG cannot be understated.
In fact, you are reading this article in the EXPLORER because of John. While serving as AAPG president in 1979-80, John and his Executive Committee launched two linked initiatives to improve how monthly information was disseminated to the rapidly expanding membership. First, they started the AAPG EXPLORER, which kept members in touch with the most recent trends and developments in industry. In addition, advertising was transferred from the Bulletin and was expanded, becoming an important revenue source for AAPG. Second, the Bulletin was transformed by increasing its size from 5.5-by-8 to 8-by-10.5 inches, and expanding its technical content.
Education and Career
John’s career contributions are recorded in his 2008 GeoLegend interview on the AAPG Website (100years.aapg.org/geolegends/videos). A native of Old Hickory, Tenn., John attended Berea College in Kentucky on scholarship. He liked to point out that it took nine years to finish his bachelor’s degree, with some extenuating circumstances: World War II intervened in his education. John received his master’s degree from the University of Wyoming and then became the first student to receive a doctorate in geology from the school in 1953. From 1952 to ‘57, he worked with Petroleum Research Corporation, where he mastered the nascent specialty of hydrodynamics. He became a professor at Colorado School of Mines in 1955, where he taught for the next 30 years. His business partnership, Barlow and Haun, established a highly influential consulting group for exploration in the Rocky Mountains for 35 years.
John’s early forays into newspaper writing at Berea College served him well throughout his career. The multiple editions of his edited primer on “Subsurface Geology,” published with L W. Leroy, became a standard text for two generations of petroleum geologists. He served as the AAPG Bulletin editor (1967-71) and associate editor for 14 years. He helped co-found and was the first editor of the Mountain Geologist for the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists and served as an associate editor of the Geologic Atlas of the Rocky Mountains, still one of definitive tomes on Rocky Mountain geology.
John’s strong feelings for professionalism led to extensive work for the American Institute of Professional Geologists, including serving as president in 1976. He served the American Geological Institute for 13 years and was president in 1981-82. Finally, John was a member of the U.S. Potential Gas Committee from the late 1950s to his death. As an elected board member and during years of service on the PGC’s Editorial Committee, he joined his fellow PGC members in providing expert assessments of U.S. natural gas resources. This volunteer PGC work complemented John’s advisory role with the National Petroleum Council and the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment.
Awards and Honors
John received many recognitions in his career, including the Sidney Powers Medal in 1995. His other awards for extensive service to the profession of geology include the following:
- AAPG: Distinguished Service Award (1973), Honorary Member (1984)
- Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists: Honorary Member (1974)
- American Institute of Professional Geologists: Ben H. Parker Award (1983)
- American Geological Institute: Ian Campbell Memorial Award (1988)
- Colorado School of Mines: Outstanding Professor Award (1973)
- Halliburton: Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement (1985)
- University of Wyoming: Distinguished Alumnus Award (1986)
- Colorado Scientific Society: Honorary Life Member
John was more than an outstanding geologist. He was also a valued friend and colleague to many, including the authors of this memorial. John used his industry and consulting experiences to instill the practical applications of concepts in his students.
Many of his students credit his tutoring for their successful careers. John was always attuned to world events, consistently positive in his attitude toward life, interested and caring about who you were and what you were doing.
During our industry’s extensive vicissitudes of the past 40 years, the AAPG EXPLORER has remained a constant, faithfully reporting the ongoing evolution of our profession. We thank John for his foresight and his leadership.