Prof. Dave Norman, 1940 - 2008

Dr. David Norman

by Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M., May 5, 2008 – Dr. David Norman, professor of geochemistry at New Mexico Tech, passed away on May 5 while leading a field trip to a gold mine in Ghana. Information on services is as follows:

  • Visitation: Afternoon of Sunday, 18 May
    Steadman-Hall Funeral Home, 309 Garfield, Socorro
  • Prayer Service: 7:00 pm, Sunday, 18 May
    San Miguel Church
    403 El Camino Real, Socorro
    Eulogies will be presented by Andrew Campbell, Frederick Partey, and Dave's brother Douglas
  • The prayer service will be followed by a reception with the family at Manzanares Street Coffee House, 110 Manzanares Avenue, Socorro
  • Funeral Mass: 10:00 am, Monday, 19 May
    San Miguel Church
    403 El Camino Real, Socorro

All of Dave's friends, colleagues, and students are welcome at these events in memory of Dave.

Memorial Page for Dave Norman at EES Dept.

Dr. Norman was leading a trip with five graduate students in the class Geology 507. Dr. Norman, 67, began feeling ill Sunday while visiting a remote gold-mining operation in the west Africa nation. On Monday morning, Dr. Norman was evacuated by ambulance toward the capital city of Accra. At 1:50 p.m. Monday, he died en route to the hospital, according to Robert Bowman, chairman of the Earth and Environmental Science Department at New Mexico Tech.

New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López said Dr. Norman was a consummate professional, an accomplished researcher and a dedicated instructor.

“Dave was a very dedicated, student-centered researcher,” Dr. López said. “He always tried to engage students in his field of work. He was more than just a great teacher and researcher. He was a wonderful human being.”

“The entire campus community shares in the loss of this exceptional man,” Dr. López said. “We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.”

Dr. Norman was recognized internationally as an expert in the economics of mineral deposits, specifically gold, and fluid inclusions. Over 40 years, he had published dozens of scholarly articles.

Dr. Norman was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana from 1966 to 1968 and had returned many times for field studies. He also recruited dozens of graduate students from Ghana to continue their education at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.

In recent years, Dr. Norman began researching the environmental impacts of gold mining, which has led to widespread arsenic contamination. He developed and implemented economic, low-tech methods of arsenic remediation, Bowman said.

Dr. López said, “He took it as a personal challenge to see if we could take our latest technological discoveries to help improve water quality in developing countries.”

Dr. Norman had also been leading a research project to determine if New Mexico Tech could use geothermal energy to heat the campus.

Dr. Andy Campbell, a geology professor at Tech and a colleague of Norman for 25 years, said Norman was a pioneer in the field of gas analysis of mineral ore deposits. Dr. Norman developed methods of gas analysis that helped determine how ore deposits formed.

“He was a true thinker,” Campbell said. “You could always count on Dave to provide insights into whatever problems you faced. He could look at complicated data and always come up with innovative ideas.”

A native of Minnesota, Dr. Norman earned his bachelor’s in physics in 1963 and his doctorate in geology and geophysics in 1976, both from the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty at New Mexico Tech in 1978. New Mexico Tech is a state-funded four-year university in Socorro that is the leading educator of scientists and engineers.

His survivors include his wife, Mary, of Socorro, and their three adult children, Anna, Kirstin, and Paul. Funeral services are pending.