Edward Orton, geology

Edward Orton, Sr. (1829-1899) was the first president of The Ohio State University. He was an economic geologist who later served as the president of the Geological Society of America and the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Orton’s scientific contributions included “anticlinal theory,” the idea that oil and gas deposits most likely move to the highest elevations of permeable stone. The anticline constitutes an arch at the crest in stratified rock.  Orton concluded that anticlinal theory could be used to predict the most favorable locations for oil and gas drilling (Orton, 1887a, 1887b, 1888).

Orton served as the State Geologist of Ohio, as well as with the U.S. Geological Survey.  His interests were primarily focused in the importance of oil and gas locations to regional economies.

Orton’s geological collections included more than 10,000 specimens, which were the original collections housed in the Orton Geological Museum. The museum is housed in Orton Hall, which is constructed of Ohio stone, arranged in “stratigraphic” order (oldest on the bottom, youngest on the top).