Dr. Wendell Phillips Woodring, 91, a retired geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who was an authority on the fossils of the Caribbean and Central America, died Jan. 29 at a retirement home in Santa Barbara, Calif., after a heart attack. He had lived in Santa Barbara since 1979.

He worked for the survey for 45 years before retiring in 1961, gaining a reputation as an authority on marine fauna and tertiary mollusks. He also directed studies of oil bearing rocks in California. After retiring, he was a research associate with the Smithsonian Institution's Natural History Museum.

Dr. Woodring was a past president of the Geological Society of America, which awarded him its Penrose Medal, and the Paleontological Society. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and a recipient of the Thompson Medal of the National Academy of Sciences.

He was a graduate of Albright College in his native Reading, Pa., and earned his doctorate in geology at Johns Hopkins University. He served in the Army in France during World War I. He began his career with the survey as a field assistant in 1913. After teaching three years at the California Institute of Technology, he rejoined the survey in 1930.

His first wife, the former Josephine Jameson, died in the early 1950s. His second wife, the former Merle Crisler Foshag, died in 1978.

Survivors include a daughter by his first marriage, Judy Armagast of Alamosa, Colo., and three grandchildren.