Skehan, James W.

James W. Skehan is professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Boston College and director emeritus of Weston Observatory. The National Association of Geology Teachers named him Teacher of the Year in 1976. Skehan holds a doctorate in geology from Harvard University as well as a master's in theology from Weston College. As a Jesuit priest and geologist, he actively promotes dialogue between scientists and theologians. While studying Iceland's active geology in 1970, he officiated the first mass ever celebrated on Surtsey Volcano, a newly formed island in the North Atlantic.

Skehan fell irrevocably in love with field geology in 1946 on a trip through the red rocks, lavas, and glacial lake clays of the Connecticut Valley. Since then he has searched on several continents for clues as to how and when the mountains and ocean basins around the Atlantic evolved. When tectonic plates were identified in the 1960s, he came to understand that present-day continents were pieced together by the assembly and breakup successively of three supercontinents. Skehan leads excursions to fascinating localities where group members can visualize the formation, movement, and melting of the Concord Glacier 14,000 years ago. In 2002 he was honored to have Skehanos quadrangularis, a trilobite that lived 505 million years ago, named for him. Shehan is the author of Roadside Geology of Massachusetts as well as many other books and articles.