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Max Harrison Demorest, 1910-1942


Lt. Max Harrison Demorest, glaciologist and Fellow of the Geological Society of America, died on November 30th, 1942, in Northern Greenland when the motor sled he was riding, on a specialized Army assignment, broke through a snow covered crevasse. A graduate of Ann Arbor (Ph.D., Princeton), in addition to a wise interest in the physiography of mountain and glacial regions, he had specialized in the critical study of the deformation of glacier ice under conditions of pressure and temperature such as would exist deep within a glacier, and he had developed a theory of glacial ice movements which combined re-orientation of the ice crystals, instantaneous recrystallization on new axes under pressure, regelation occurring in exceeding minute amounts and in excedingly short intervals of time, and recrystallization along the same general principles in glaciers as are known to obtain in annealing metals (Amer. Geophys. Union Trans., 1941). The combination of these several principles is now broadly accepted as the basis of glacier flow (Hydrology. McGraw-Hill, 1942).

While not a member of the American Alpine Club, Demorest’s work on glaciers in Greenland, and in the West, had brought him into close contact with many of our members, and his tragic death at the age of thirty-two has cut short a life that would have undoubtedly added many new theories to glaciology; to those among the Club who knew him, he has left a lasting memory of his patient help and his keen scientific mind, combined with extraordinary resourcefulness and an indefatigable will to carry his studies of his chosen field to a successful conclusion.

J. E. F.