Carl E. Norman

Carl E. Norman, PhD., P.G., C.P.G.

Carl Edgar Norman passed from this life on August 03, 2022 at the age of 91 years seven months and two days. Carl was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Houston where he had taught and conducted research in structural geology and rock mechanics for 35 years. Carl is the last of an early group of geologists – which included the likes of DeWitt Van Siclen and Saul Aronow – who had an extensive knowledge of the surface and near surface geology of the Texas upper gulf coast as well as its geomorphology. Carl was considered the foremost authority on surface faulting along the gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana and was widely known and respected for his expertise.

Carl was born on February 01, 1931 to Oscar Edwin and Grace Genevieve (née Thune) Norman in the small farming community of Cokato, Minnesota. Reared on a dairy farm, which in addition to producing milk also raised crops such as corn and soybeans, Carl had an appreciation for hard work and possessed a mechanical aptitude that is typical of young men who grew up on a farm. After graduation from high school in 1948, Carl worked in various jobs which included working in the local Jolly Green Giant cannery and working in a remote railroad maintenance camp in northern California.  Enlisting in the U.S. Air force shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, he worked as a mechanic on aircraft and aircraft engines, and this included servicing the Convair B-36 "Peacemaker" which was the largest piston-driven bomber ever built. Carl was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant from the Air Force after four years of service.

Carl took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled in the University of Minnesota where he received a B.S. in Geology in 1957. He then enrolled in the graduate program at The Ohio State University and attained his M.S. in Geology in 1959. With his master's degree in hand, he went to work for Carter Oil (soon after to become Humble Oil and Refining). After working a few years in the oil and gas industry, he returned to The Ohio State University in the early 1960s to pursue his PhD. While working on his doctorate degree, Carl received a prestigious National Science Foundation Scholarship. In 1965, while working on his dissertation, Carl accepted a position at the University of Houston as an instructor. In 1964, Carl was invited by NASA to apply to the Astronaut Corps as one of the first scientists who were not pilots. Unfortunately, Carl was ultimately disqualified because of an ephemeral issue with his eyesight.

Following the completion of his PhD in 1967, Carl accepted a permanent faculty position as a professor of geology with the University of Houston. During his time at the university, he taught physical geology to more than 6,500 students and worked with numerous graduate students. Carl was the Geoscience Department's field camp instructor for 12 years. He led his students on field trips into New Mexico and interior Mexico as well as a trip to the Grand Canyon. His abilities as a teacher were recognized in 1992 with his receiving the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies' Outstanding Educator Award.

Starting in the late 1970s, Carl began working with his fellow professor DeWitt Van Siclen on the geologic hazard of surface faulting in the Houston Metropolitan Area. Their research into the nature of surface faulting was greatly assisted by the work of graduate students who put in many hours of literature and field research. As the public became ever more aware of the risk posed by surface faulting, their efforts in studying this phenomenon grew beyond academic research into consultation for governmental entities, private companies, and individual property owners who were concerned with the problem. In 1985, a collaborative effort was put forth by Carl Norman, DeWitt Van Siclen, Bill Ellsbury (McClelland Engineers), Bob Valentine (Woodward-Clyde Consultants), and Lynn J. Ratliff (McBride-Ratcliff) to produce guidelines for surface fault investigations along the Texas Gulf Coast. This work was published under the auspices of the Houston Geologic Society in its monthly bulletin and was entitled "Investigation of Surface Faults in Texas Gulf Coast Region". Today, 37 years later, these guidelines are still the standard for surface fault investigations along the gulf coast.

When Carl retired from the University of Houston in 2000, his consulting work became full time and the demand for his services often had him working as many as seven days a week. His consultation work was applied geology concentrating in the geologic sub-discipline of engineering geology. Besides his work with faults, Carl was hired to work on a variety of projects dealing with other geologic hazards. In particular, he was noted for his work with sinkholes which began with his investigation of the Boling Sinkhole in Wharton County, Texas.  In west Texas, Carl was hired to study the Wink Sink and Wink Sink II and predict the likelihood and locations of future sinkhole manifestations. His most recent effort with sinkholes was investigating the Daisetta Sinkhole which garnered national media coverage.
Part of Carl's work was providing expert witness testimony for which he testified in more than two dozen administrative hearings and trials. Various governmental entities would consult with Carl, and he and Richard G. Howe developed the requirements for surface fault investigations for the City of Houston.

Carl was well known within his profession and was an active member of the Houston Geological Society (HGS) and the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG). In addition to the aforementioned HGS guidelines for fault investigations, his work with HGS included organizing many field trips and serving on the board of the Warren L. and Florence W. Calvert Scholarship Fund for 44 years. His participation on the fund's board was at the urging of its founder, Warren Calvert. At the time of his retirement from the Calvert Scholarship Fund, where he first served as secretary until his appointment as chairman in 2001, the fund had awarded $519,850 in scholarships to 178 graduate students from 25 universities.  For his many years of service to HGS, he was awarded the HGS President's award in 2004 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2018.

Carl's service to professional societies extended to AEG where he developed and led several field trips and gave talks about the hazards of surface faults and how to detect them. In particular, his work for AEG included speaking at the seminar on seismicity and faulting at AEG's 2007 national convention in Los Angeles and working on the 2010 Shlemon Specialty Conference which addressed modern subsidence, sea-level rise, and the future of the gulf coast.  For his extensive work with AEG, Carl received the Floyd T. Johnston Memorial Award for Outstanding Geologist from the Texas Section of the AEG in 2010.

He was also a long-time member of the Geological Society of America and gave presentations at several of their regional conferences.

Carl worked actively until late July of 2020 when he was involved in a major automobile accident which affected his ability to work in the field. Shortly thereafter, he finally retired at the age of almost 90. Prior to his accident, Carl was regularly in the field slogging through wetlands and thrashing his way through dense underbrush, even in the horrendous summer heat and humidity of the Texas gulf coast. Until the end of his career, Carl was a licensed professional geologist with the State of Texas and a certified professional geologist with the American Institute of Professional Geologists.

Carl's temperament ranged from gregarious and fun loving to dedicated and persevering. He never met a stranger he did not like to talk with and was always ready to freely relay what he knew about a professional topic, no matter who asked. His sense of professionalism and responsibility was revered by the engineering community, and he was known to many land and residential developers.

In addition to his parents, Carl was preceded in death by three sisters: Pearl Norman, Ruth Norman Lindahl, and Delores Norman Larson. He is survived by his daughter Ingrid Norman Monroy, his grandson Michael Joseph Monroy, and his brother-in-law Gerald Larson.

Carl will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues, and he will not soon be forgotten.

For those who wish to remember Carl, donations may be made to Mikey’s Place, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named for his grandson which assists families of children with disabilities.” Https://