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John Rowland Earp, 1915-2002

John Earp graduated with first class honours from Victoria University, Manchester, and continued with postgraduate studies there to obtain an MSc and PhD. His doctorate, under the supervision of W J Pugh, and for which he was awarded the Mark Stirrup Palaeontological Scholarship and a Beyer Fellowship, was on the Silurian rocks of the Kerry and Clun districts of Powys, Wales. The results were published in the Society’s Quarterly Journal for 1938 and 1940.

He joined the Geological Survey in 1938 and remained there until his retirement in 1975, by which time it had been renamed (1965) the Institute of Geological Sciences. He was initially assigned to the Water Department in London, writing wartime pamphlets on underground water supplies. At the end of the war, he was transferred to the Survey’s northwestern Unit in Manchester. He published on the Bowland Forest water tunnel, mineralisation at Minera, marine-band correlations of the North and South Staffordshire Coalfields, and marker horizons in the Lancashire Coalfield. He surveyed parts of the Clitheroe and Chester sheets and co-authored the explanatory memoirs (taking the latter into retirement and eventual publication in 1986). He was awarded the Wollaston Fund of the Society in 1957 "in recognition of researches of wide range and high standard".

In 1959, John was appointed District Geologist of the Survey’s North Lowlands mapping unit in Edinburgh, where his duties included acting as an assessor on the Building Materials Committee of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) and work on the underground water resources of Scotland.

In 1963 he transferred to London to be District Geologist of the Bristol and South Wales Unit, a post which he retained until retirement, although, with periodic changes of the unit’s boundaries, it had become (in 1968) the South Wales and Welsh Marches Unit. He examined the Ordovician rocks of the Ammanford sheet, co-wrote the third edition of the Welsh Borderland regional geology handbook, compiled the 1:25,000 Leintwardine – Ludlow map from data supplied by the Ludlow Research Group, and compiled the 1:25,000 map of the Llandrindod Wells Ordovician inlier from the 25-inch maps of O T Jones and Sir William Pugh. Committee duties included service on the joint NCB/IGS working party formed to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into the Lofthouse Colliery disaster.

In 1941, John married Dorothy Lewis. In retirement they lived in Bath, enjoying their garden and foreign holidays. He is survived by Dorothy and twin daughters, Myfanwy, a doctor in Staffordshire, and Glynis, a headteacher in Keynsham. An older daughter sadly predeceased him.

John Earp was an excellent geologist, an efficient manager, a skilful writer and a respected colleague. He was a reserved man, but the reserve concealed a razor-sharp wit. He is fondly remembered as a thoroughly honest and decent gentleman. Richard Cave recalls a man who was true to himself and true to geology. His life and work were imbued with a high degree of order, and it seems entirely in keeping that he should have died on his 87th birthday on 16 August.

William J Barclay