A Passion for Gold: An Autobiography

Ralph Roberts's is not a household name in Nevada, but it should be - it was he who discovered the Carlin Belt gold deposits that created a major mining boom in the state in the last four decades of the twentieth century. But this discovery was only one episode of his remarkably eventful life. A Passion for Gold is Roberts's account of that life, a story as colorful and adventurous as that of any fictional hero. Roberts's engagingly told autobiography traces his life from its beginnings in eastern Washington State to his fame as a world-renowned geologist, skillfully alternating personal experiences with the development of his understanding of the structure of Nevada's geology and the forces that shaped it. His fascination with ore-bearing minerals led to a long and productive career with the U.S. Geologic Survey, which took him to extended postings in Central America and later to Saudi Arabia, where he was instrumental in the redevelopment of the ancient gold mines at Mahd adh Dhahab, possibly the site of the biblical Ophir. But he returned again and again to Nevada, intrigued by its geological complexity and the precious minerals that lay hidden beneath its convoluted surfaces, and was involved in the development of a number of the state's most significant gold-mining areas. Roberts's account conveys his abiding enthusiasm for the processes of geology, and his captivating text allows his reader to share and understand that enthusiasm. His story is that of a geologist of unusual astuteness, a man whose professional successes were only part of a life marked by devotion to family and an unremitting curiosity about the world and people around him.