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Rodney Richard Morgan Maud 1935 - 2017

bjk;lSouth African consulting geologist and Honorary Professor, founder of Drennan Maud & Partners.

Dr Rodney Maud FGS died on 12 May 2017, after a year of declining health. His passion for geology was kindled around the hills of Hillary, south of Durban, collecting rock samples and hoarding them in his mother’s cupboards. Having matriculated from Durban High School (DHS), he went on to read for a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and Chemistry at the then University of Natal, Durban, (UND) graduating in 1954.

He took up a post as geologist and soil scientist at the South African Sugar Association (SASA) 1955 - 66, but was able continue his tertiary studies, obtaining his BSc (Hons) degree in 1957 and his PhD in 1962. Maud was awarded the Selby Research Fellowship by the Australian Academy of Science and spent 1964 - 65 at CSIRO, Adelaide, as a research scientist.

Consulting geologist

In 1967 he joined Kantey, Templer and Web as a consulting Engineering Geologist but then in 1969 moved to D L Web and Associates as Senior Associate. This association lasted until early 1975 when he and his then colleague Dr John Drennan decided to go it alone.  Drennan Maud and Partners began operations on 1 April 1975. He retired in 2001 but continued as a consultant right up to his passing, ever happy to assist or share his immense experience and knowledge.


Rodney remained in close contact with UND.  In 1968 he was invited back as a Honorary Lecturer in Engineering Geology and as an external examiner. This continued until 1978 when he was made Honorary Senior Lecturer.  In acknowledgment of his 20 years’ selfless contribution, UND made him Honorary Professor in 1988, a position he held with great pride until retiring in 2010. Between 1996 and 2006 he was also Honorary Research Associate at the Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg.

During a busy life he found time to author no less than 32 publications and a further 39 in collaboration with colleagues Professors Tim Partridge and Fred Bell and others, predominantly in engineering geology, quaternary geology, geomorphology and hydrogeology. 

During his time at SASA he mapped, farm by farm, some 500,000 hectares of the entire South African Sugar Industry as it was then. Between 1967 until his death he was directly or indirectly engaged in an estimated 8000 engineering geological appointments, working on many of KZN’s flagship projects of the day.

He carried out numerous hydrological studies and was appointed project co-ordinator of the KwaZulu-Natal Hydrological Characterisation and Mapping Project for DWAF in 1993 (completed 1995). 


In 1989 he was awarded the Jubilee Medal of the Geological Society of South Africa (together with Prof Tim Partridge).  Rodney joined SAIEG as a Member in 1984 and was made a Fellow in 1993. In 2003, SAIEG awarded him the Gold Medal for his significant contribution, lifelong service and loyalty to Engineering Geology in South Africa, having also served as a Council member for many years (at his own cost), President (1989 - 90) and IAEG’s Vice-President for Africa (1999 - 2002).  He also served as President and Honorary Treasurer of the South African Society for Quaternary Research.

He will be long remembered and sorely missed as a larger-than-life character, with a wicked sense of humour and for his prolific achievements and contributions, science and engineering in South Africa over some 60 years. 

By Michel Benet