Elected: 1973
Discipline: Earth Sciences and Chemistry
Professor John Barry Dawson FRSE
It is with a mixture of sadness at his passing and joy at his memory that we pay tribute to Barry Dawson, an outstanding scientist and great man. Barry was passionate about igneous geology and volcanism, and undertook a lifelong quest to understand the mineralogical constitution of the Earth’s upper mantle and the processes required to yield the low-volume melts erupted in, for example, the African Rift Valley. This led him to carry out in-depth research on kimberlites and their xenoliths (rock samples carried from depth by magma), rift-related magmatism, and the geology, properties and genesis of carbonatite magmas. In all these areas he had a great ability to stimulate other workers with complementary skills and approaches. His work significantly developed these fields and improved our understanding of the nature of the mantle beneath the continents. Not only that, but his superb rock collection of mantle samples and East African Rift volcanic rocks will remain an outstanding resource for geoscientists for decades to come. In many ways Barry Dawson could be regarded as the ‘Indiana Jones’ of igneous petrology. His research took him to remote regions of Africa from where he returned with truly exceptional geological specimens (samples of kimberlite, carbonatite and numerous and diverse xenoliths) thanks to his excellent observational skills, and also many an amazing tale to recount.

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