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In Memoriam

August 13, 2018

Peter Siems, Emeritus Professor of Economic Geology

Peter Siems served a long and distinguished career on the faculty of the then Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, College of Mines and Earth Resources, from 1965 to 1997. He obtained an undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of London and worked as a mine geologist in South Africa before obtaining his Ph.D. at the Colorado School of Mines.

Siems's work at U of I was in Economic Geology with a focus on metallic ore deposits. His research at U of I examined fluid inclusions in ore minerals from around the world to determine the nature of the ore forming fluids.

Siems is also remembered for his Hydrothermal Alteration Short Courses, taught in the U.S., Canada, and overseas. As well as students, these courses were attended by numerous professionals from the mining and mineral exploration industries. His collection of ore mineral specimens, used in his teaching as well as his research, was outstanding.

While in Moscow, the Siems family lived in the historic Jerome Day mansion. Fittingly for the home of a professor of economic geology, the mansion was built by Day in 1904 from money made mining silver in the Coeur d'Alene district. The Siems family was honored by the Latah County Historical Society in 1993 with an Orchid Award for their work on preserving the home.

After retiring from U of I, Siems became active in the Mining History Association and published articles related to mining history. One such effort included translation from Old German of the 1548 law regarding tin mining in Schlackenwald, Bohemia; Siems published a description of this law as a chapter in the book "De Re Metallica: The Uses of Metal in the Middle Ages".

Siems is fondly remembered by many undergraduate and graduate students who have gone on to distinguished careers in the mineral industry and other fields of geology.

 Read more about his life.

Thanks to Ed Ratchford, Earl Bennett, Chris Dail, and Eric Bennett for contributing information and anecdotes.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at