Alumni Hall of Fame

Ebenezer Emmons
Ebenezer Emmons
Inducted September 2007

Ebenezer Emmons

Class of 1826
Geologist
1799-1863

A graduate of Rensselaer’s first class, Ebenezer Emmons went on to become one of the founders of American geology. His influential work led to the modern understanding of the geology of upstate New York, and served as a model and a standard for the geologic-stratigraphic surveys for the rest of the United States.

As state geologist for the northern New York State Geological District, Emmons was responsible for naming the Adirondacks and the Taconic Mountains. His discovery that the rocks that formed the Taconic sequence were much older than those to their west, though controversial at the time, was of such significance that the frontal fault, which runs through the Rensselaer campus, is known as “Emmons’ Line.”

Emmons wrote classic texts on geology and other aspects of natural history. Active in the scientific community, he hosted the first meeting of the American Association of Geologists in his Albany home in 1838. The organization later became the American Association for the Advancement of Science.