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Rhys Glyn Davies 1923—2010

Rhys Davies Rhys Davies had extensive mapping experience in the Sahara, Middle East and East Africa.

He was born in Penygraig in the Rhondda, South Wales in 1923, educated at Bridgend Grammar school and University College Aberystwyth, from where he graduated in chemistry before being conscripted briefly into the coalmines as a ‘Bevin Boy’ in 1944. He was released to join the Royal Army Service Corps in which he rose to be a Lieutenant, serving mainly in India and Egypt. He was demobbed in 1947, re-entered Aberystwyth and researched in 1947-48 for an MSc in chemistry, which was awarded in 1949.

In 1948 Rhys entered the chemical industry as a research chemist in Leigh, Lancashire while also being an evening lecturer at Wigan Mining & Technical College. In 1951-52 he studied positive-hole catalysts for R. Graesser Ltd. before returning to Aberystwyth in 1952 to obtain a PhD, but also spending some time at Imperial College. He studied the geochemistry of the Cader Idris granophyre, gaining his degree in 1955, the year he became FGS.

Rhys then joined Huntings Technical Services and soon became Senior Geologist and Expedition Manager. He worked in the central Saharan Ahagger Massif in southern Algeria, the Ardrar des Iforas region to the west in Mali, the western Rift area of Tanganyika, Calabria in southern Italy and on laboratory projects. From 1961-68 he was the Leverhulme Professor and Head of the Geology Department in the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. The Department was founded in 1957 under UNESCO because in 1947, when West Pakistan separated from India, there was not one geology department in the whole of West Pakistan. By 1968 Rhys had improved the facilities and trained enough indigenous staff that a Pakistani Head could be appointed.

Rhys then entered the Overseas Division of the Institute of Geological Sciences (now BGS) as Principal Scientific Officer, supervising two three-year geological mapping, economic mineral studies (he was also a Fellow of the Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (FIMM)), and counterpart training projects in Iran. This was followed by three years in London from which he made advisory visits for the MOD to numerous Middle East countries before, in 1977-79, becoming Chief Mapping Geologist with Geophysical International, mapping part of SE Iran.

Unfortunately the project was abruptly ended by the Iranian revolution and the team had to flee over the mountains but Rhys was reported to have ‘remained as cool as a cucumber amid the mounting turmoil’. He was always the perfect gentleman. His final contracts were with the British Antarctic Survey (1979-80) and in 1980-2 in Saudi Arabia on a joint Royal School of Mines Project.

From 1983 he worked as a valued volunteer in the Haslemere Museum and from 1994-97 as a most meticulous Treasurer of the Geologists’ Association.

He leaves a wife Pamela, sons Caradoc and Richard and grand-daughters Adele and Celine. A much fuller account of his life will appear in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

Bernard Elgey Leake, with grateful thanks to the family