June 5, 1892–July 6, 1973
BY GEORGE R. TILTON
CHARLES SNOWDEN PIGGOT WAS one of the founding fathers of ocean-bottom marine research. He was, in fact, a pioneer in the study of geologic phenomena in the ocean basins, whose work has revolutionized the way earth scientists view earth evolution. There were no ocean drilling projects when he began his research into radium activity in sediments. Consequently, he not only had to develop laboratory facilities for the measurements, but also had to design and build a coring device capable of obtaining undisturbed cores up to three meters in length. Techniques up to that time had been capable of collecting small surface samples of sediments with a grappling device, but the stratigraphic record was destroyed even in those limited samples. As Piggot stated, such samples give information about present conditions only and divulge nothing of past events. It is these past events that reveal valuable information about geologic processes at work on land as well as in the ocean basins.
His investigations finally produced reliable dates on sediments and sedimentation rates from the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Basin over a time span of some 300,000 years. Foraminiferal data from the cores, provided mainly