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David Kenneth Bailey 1931-2012

Igneous petrologist-geochemist, and expert on alkaline magmatism and petrogenesis

ken baileyKen Bailey died in hospital on 14 November 2012, aged 81. He had been suffering from motor neurone disease. Ken was born in London in 1931 and graduated BSc from Chelsea College in 1951. His first job was with the (then) Geological Survey of Northern Rhodesia, where his fieldwork on the carbonatites of the Rufunsa Valley engendered a life-long fascination with such rocks. He submitted the results of his Survey work to the University of London and was awarded the degree of PhD in 1959.

Ken moved, in 1957, to Trinity College, Dublin, where he taught igneous petrology. In a career-defining decision, he spent the years 1961-63 in the Geophysical Laboratory, Washington, DC, where he worked with Frank Schairer on the system Na2O-Al2O3-Fe2O3-SiO2. That study, and the petrological implications drawn from it, were a major contribution to the petrogenesis of alkaline rocks and are still widely quoted.

In 1964, Ken moved to the University of Reading, where a major commitment was the establishment of an experimental laboratory. He was particularly concerned with the phase relationships in peralkaline trachytes and rhyolites, which, typically, he complemented by field, petrological and geochemical studies of the Longonot and Eburru volcanoes in Kenya. I went to work with Ken as a post-doc in 1967. After I burst one of his one-kilobar bombs, Ken decided that my petrological career might more profitably develop along different lines.

At this time, Ken also went about promoting the critical role of the lithosphere in controlling continental alkaline magmatism. Along with Felicity Lloyd and using mantle nodule suites from western Uganda and Germany, he did pioneering work on the mineralogical and compositional effects of mantle metasomatism.

In 1986, Ken took up the post of Professor of Igneous Geochemistry at the University of Bristol. In a return to his earliest research days, he redeveloped his interest in carbonatites and took particular pleasure in documenting, with UK, French and Spanish colleagues, previously unknown areas of carbonatite-silicate volcanism in France and Spain. Ken also returned, in collaboration with Alan Woolley, to promoting his views on the dominant role of lithosphere on continental alkaline magmatism.

Despite his commitment to his work, Ken found time for music and poetry, of which he was particularly fond, and for tending his garden in Batheaston, the delightful village in Somerset where he and his wife Kay set up home on his move to the University of Bristol.

Ken Bailey was a genuinely innovative thinker who brought to his research a wide range of skills, from field geologist through experimental petrologist to geochemist. He could be rather dismissive; he had scant regard, for example, for theories invoking mantle plumes in continental magmatism. At the same time, he was a wonderfully generous teacher and colleague, always ready to help students with quiet encouragement. When he died, he was still supervising doctoral research studies and planning future research projects. We will remember a warm-hearted, immensely positive friend and colleague.

Ray Macdonald