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David Murray Boyd 1926-2016

xgydjPioneer in the use of airborne surveys to geological mapping, equally at home in commercial and academic geology.

David was born at Dalmuir, Clydebank, Scotland, and educated at Kilmarnock Academy.  He entered the University of Glasgow and was awarded a double first in Natural Philosophy and Geology in 1946.  He remained there as a lecturer in geophysics until 1955. 

He joined London mining consultants John Taylor and Sons, working on the evaluation of lead and coal mines in the UK, copper mines in Cyprus and diamond and gold mines in India, before joining Hunting Geology and Geophysics Ltd (Borehamwood) in 1958 as Chief Geophysicist to work on exploration problems worldwide.


In 1948 Huntings was one of only two companies that had a licence to fly surveys worldwide using the Gulf fluxgate magnetometer, and it was the experience he gained in interpreting these surveys that formed the basis for David's subsequent career.  As Huntings was also very experienced in the use of photogeology this provided a very strong background for the teams working with David on regional surveys.

From 1958 until 1968 David was working on very large aeromagnetic surveys from many countries including Angola, the Spanish Sahara, Ghana, South West Africa, Somalia, and on various trials with airborne electromagnetic surveys in the UK, Kenya, the Copper Belt, Cyprus and Tanzania.  However, it was the United Nations Development Fund survey in 1962-63 of large areas of Uganda, which revealed to David, and others working on the interpretation, the great value of such low-cost surveys in areas with poor exposure. 

This period culminated in David's landmark paper at the Canadian Centennial Mineral and Ground Water Conference, 1967: The contribution of airborne magnetic surveys to geological mapping, which is still a compelling read.  In 2012 David wrote that he still thought of the Hunting's experience as ‘the most important aspect of my career … and I have been able to pass on the ideas I learnt in Australia’. 


David decided to return to academia and was appointed Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Economic Geology at the University of Adelaide in 1969.  His main focus was nurturing honours graduates who would be sought after by the mining industry, and many of his students became leaders and achievers in the exploration industry.  Another of David's contributions to the mining industry was his support of the Australian Mineral Foundation Course, which led to his book Geophysics and Geology.  He remained actively involved at the University until 1992. 

David was an adviser on many Australian government airborne survey programmes, including the South Australian Exploration.  He was also an adviser to air survey companies in Finland, India, China and in Africa.  David was elected President of the Geological Society of Australia (1986-87), and in 2016 was awarded the Gold Medal of the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists. 

For a geoscientist to devote over 50 years to active exploration without being deeply involved in ‘management’ must be unique!  David is survived by his widow Jenny and their children Jim, Hugh and Sarah, and three grandchildren.

Derek Morris