Cloud, Preston, 1912-1991

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Biographical History

Preston Ercelle Cloud, Jr., was a biogeologist and paleontologist. During his career he studied the history of Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and crust. He was born in West Upton, Massachusetts, on September 26, 1912. As a young man, Cloud came to Washington D.C. during the 1930’s and began taking courses at George Washington University at night (earning his degree in 1938), and working odd jobs during the day. Eventually he gained a position at the U.S. National Museum through one of his professors Ray S. Bassler. It was at the National Museum while working under G. Arthur Cooper as a preparator in the paleontology laboratory that he developed his interest in paleontology. Cloud went on earned his graduate degree in geology at Yale University in 1937, and his Ph.D. in 1940. Over the course of his career Cloud worked at various institutions. Some of these included the U.S. Geological Survey within the wartime Strategic Minerals Program during World War II; chief paleontologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington, D.C ; chairman of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Minnesota; and professor of biogeology at University of California, Los Angeles. He eventually transferred to the Santa Barbara Campus (UCSB). From 1974 to 1979 Cloud returned to the employ of the U.S. Geological Survey based in Santa Barbara. Throughout his life, Cloud traveled and collected extensively. He passed away January 16, 1991, in Santa Barbara.


  • Library of Congress. NACO. Control Number: n 86010476
  • Crowell, J.C. (1995.): Preston Cloud: September 26, 1912–January 16, 1991. Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 67, 43-62. Retrieved from
  • Rodgers, John. (1992). “Preston Cloud (September 26, 1912-January 16, 1991).” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 136 (2) 280-287. Retrieved October 24, 2013 from

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  • Geologists
  • Paleontologists


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  • Geologists
  • Paleontologists