Anna Hietanen did the major part of her work in the United States, where she moved in the 1940s. That is why her name is mainly familiar among the older generation of Finnish geologists.

The gifted young woman from Isokyrö studied at the University of Helsinki and majored in physics, finishing her M.Sc. degree in 1933, after which she moved on to geology and mineralogy. In this field, she could combine scientific research with brisk outdoors activities. From her home in Orismala, she could ride 30 kilometres on her bicycle to do field work at Simpsiö, Lapua.

Anna Hietanen published her dissertation On the petrology of Finnish quartzites in 1938. Her teacher, the famous Finnish geologist Pentti Eskola described how Hietanen went throughly though the scattered Finnish quartzite occurrences "from Tytärsaari to Enontekiö and from Kälviä to Koli" [from the far south to the far north, and from west to east]. After her dissertation was finished, Hietanen went to the U.S. in 1938-40 on a stipend, but returned to Finland to continue her study on the petrology of the Turku and Kalanti districts. She is said to have been the only one of Eskola's pupils who "faithfully stayed on his path in metamorphic petrology."

In Finland, she was assistant of mineralogy at the University of Helsinki in 1935-46 and docent in petrology in 1942-46. In 1946 she moved permanently to the U.S., where she married George Makela, a businessman. Her daughter Maria was born in 1947. At first, Anna was employed at Stanford University, then at the University of Oregon at Eugene. In 1949 she finally became employed by the United States Geological Survey - first in Washington, D.C., but in 1953 she was finally transferred to the west, as she herself wished. She was Chief of the Petrology Unit, Geochemistry and Petrology Branch at U.S. Geological Survey at Menlo Park, California, until she retired in 1983.

Hietanen became quite well acquainted with mountainous areas of the United States. Already during her postdoctoral fellowship, she had already become acquainted with structural features of the Appalachians. During her time at the U.S.G.S., she mapped huge areas of bedrock in Idaho - by the end of the 1950s alone, she had mapped a record number of about 2000 square miles. There's an anecdote from that time:

"A legendary figure in geological circles, Dr. Hietanen-Makela was also the object of admiration and wonder among backswoodmen and forest rangers in the mountains of northern Idaho and northern California where she did her geological fieldwork. She liked to tell the story of how a party of rafters, after having cleared a stretch of dangerous rapids on the Clearwater river in Idaho, were congratulating themselves on how only real he-men could perform such a feat -- only to round a bend in the river and find Dr. Hietanen-Makela and an assistant ahead of them having lunch on a rock. They stopped and everybody had a good laugh."

These mountainous areas were in many parts really barren and rough. The slopes could be 1000 metres steep and the nearest habitation could be 100 kilometres away. Hietanen continued her field work until old age because she was physically in such good shape. She used a dog that she had trained to spot places with bare rock. The results of her work included many fine maps that geologists still use and regard highly.

Among the results of this incredibly vast field work, there were also many notable scientific publications in the areas of bedrock geology, petrology, mineralogy and geochemistry. Particularly one should note her article on "On the facies series in various types of metamorphism" that was published in 1967 and for which she received a huge amount of 700 reprint requests.

Anna Hietanen had a long and interesting life and career, not always necessarily an easy one. She was a happy and active person with a large international network of contacts and many friends. She also received some well-deserved recognition, e.g. the Distinguished Service Award by the Secretary of the Interior of the United States, and the honorary membership of the Finnish Geological Society.

Eva Isaksson

Anna Hietanen's bibliography