Emeritus Professor William A. Cassidy of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science (formerly the Geology and Planetary Science Department) at the University of Pittsburgh passed away of a heart attack on March 22, 2020. Bill is best known for creating the ANSMET (Antarctic Search for Meteorites) program in 1976, serving as its PI for nearly 20 years. The ANSMET program has recovered more than 22,000 samples since its start, and Bill's efforts helped to triple the world's inventory of meteorites.
Because of those efforts, the Cassidy Glacier in Antarctica was named for him, as well as the mineral Cassidyite, and the asteroid 3382 Cassidy. In 1979, he was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal. His efforts in Antarctica were documented in his memoir, "Meteorites, Ice, and Antarctica: A Personal Account" published by Cambridge University Press in 2003.
Bill graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.S. in geology, and from Penn State University with a Ph.D. in geochemistry. He met his wife. Beverly, at Penn State. They have 3 children, Shauna, Laura and Brian. Brian died a couple of years ago.
Bill was very adventurous and loved to travel to strange places. After graduating from New Mexico he gave himself a graduation present by attempting to drive a motorcycle the entire length of the Pan-American highway, which, in places, was little more than a cow path.
He was an expert in the geology of meteorite impact craters and traveled to many places in the world to study them, including Canada, South America, Africa, and Australia. He spent several summers in Argentina excavating a chain of impact craters made when a giant iron meteorite broke up in mid-air. He hired workers from a local village, which made a major contribution to its economy.
When he heard that a Japanese meteorologist had discovered some meteorites on a glacier in Antarctica, he realized that the thick, moving ice would be a natural collector and concentrator of meteorites. For many years, he led expeditions to Antarctica and discovered enough of them to triple the world’s collection of meteorites, including several from the Moon and Mars.
Bill had a marvelous sense of humor that rivaled his sense of adventure, which took him to impact craters in Canada, South America, Africa, and Australia. He will be missed by his colleagues and friends.