Philip E. Lamoreaux Sr.

Water, Water Everywhere

Inducted in 2010

It has been said that you cannot squeeze water from a stone; but what about finding water in the Sahara? If you were Philip E. LaMoreaux Sr., even 40 years ago, the idea did not seem impossible. Thanks to LaMoreaux and an Egyptian colleague, thousands of gallons of water have been pumped from wells to agricultural communities in the Western Desert of Egypt. Hydrogeology today would not be one of the most dynamic and sought-after disciplines in the field were it not for the interest and enthusiasm of LaMoreaux.

“Man was intrigued with karst,” begins a 1998 magazine article by LaMoreaux, who was decidedly intrigued with the landscape characterized by sinkholes, sinking streams, caves and springs. LaMoreaux built his company, P. E. LaMoreaux and Associates Inc., into an international environmental and engineering consulting firm specializing in hydrogeology. And where there is karst, there is water. His name has been virtually synonymous with the hydrogeology of karst, environmental planning for karst areas, remote sensing techniques for the detection of karst, and catastrophic subsidence.

LaMoreaux began his phenomenal career after graduating from Denison University in 1943 with an appointment to the U.S. Geological Survey in Tuscaloosa as a geologist, serving in various posts until 1959 when he moved to Washington, D.C., to become chief of the Ground Water Branch. In 1961, he returned to Tuscaloosa as state geologist for Alabama and director of the Oil and Gas Board, serving until 1976. LaMoreaux earned a master of science in geology from The University of Alabama in 1949, and in 1972 he received an honorary doctorate of sciences from Denison University.

In 1962, LaMoreaux was one of the first from the United States to join the fledgling International Association of Hydrogeologists. At his urging, the Alabama Geological Survey sponsored the first major national professional meeting on karst hydrogeology at the 12th Congress of IAH. LaMoreaux served as the first American president of IAH and as chairman of IAH Commissions on Karst and on Mineral and Thermal Waters.

In 1983, LaMoreaux became director of the Environmental Institute for Waste Management Studies and continued in the position until 1989. As director, he obtained finances and developed and managed the institute, bringing together leading scientists from 10 major U.S. universities. This group produced a series of papers and guidelines that were used as a basis for action during the early days of the American environmental movement.

LaMoreaux was a prolific writer and authored more than 150 publications. He was the primary editor of the 1970 “Hydrology of Limestone Terranes—Annotated Bibliography of Carbonate Rocks” for the Alabama Geological Survey, and he served as editor-in-chief of “Environmental Geology,” which became the multi-disciplined “Environmental Earth Sciences” under his direction. Authored books include “Exodus: Myth, Legend, History”; “Springs and Bottled Waters of the World”; and “Environmental Hydrogeology.”

Active until 2008 in the company he founded, LaMoreaux was succeeded as president by his son, Dr. Jim LaMoreaux. He passed away in 2008 and is survived by his wife of 64 years, Bunnie. Their children are Philip E. LaMoreaux Jr., Jim LaMoreaux, and Karen LaMoreaux Bryan (deceased). They also have nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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