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Colin James Dixon, 1933 – 2006

Colin Dixon came from a Quaker background. His interest in geology was stimulated by a geography teacher and, after two years National Service in the Bedford & Herts. Regiment, during which he served in Egypt, he went to Imperial College in 1954. Colin Dixon gave his life to the Department of Geology of the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, graduating ARSM, BSc in 1957 and being instantly appointed Assistant Lecturer in Mining Geology. He was promoted to Lecturer in 1959 and Senior Lecturer in 1974, retiring in 1999. He thus spent 45 years in the department apart from one year on sabbatical leave as a Research Fellow at the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Mines de Paris from 1968-9.

During his early years he was much involved in the application of computing to geology and the use of geostatistics in the evaluation of ore reserves. Out of broad appreciation of the whole field of geology, and his involvement in the advanced teaching approach in Mining Geology arose his Atlas of Economic Mineral Deposits. This book was widely acclaimed in industry and academe when it was first published in 1979. It remains a classic, and is still highly regarded – and available on Amazon.

Colin was an indefatigable committeeman. He served on many committees and councils of the Imperial College, the University of London and the AUT. He was a human seismograph, his ear constantly close to the ground. He knew everybody who mattered, in the College and outside. Colin was Sir John Knill’s right-hand man in doing much to advance the professionalism of geology, and together they were activists in setting up the Institution of Geologists. When this body later merged with The Geological Society of London he served for many years on Council and as Chairman of the Fellowship & Validation Committee.

It was not as an academic researcher, nor as a committeeman that Colin Dixon will be best remembered, but as a conscientious teacher and mentor of students. He served the Department for many years as Director of Undergraduate Studies, and as Senior Tutor with overall responsibility for the pastoral care of students. His rough, gruff manner was occasionally off-putting to new students, but they soon realised that he was rather like a lobster - hard on the outside, soft on the inside.

All over the Earth, RSM alumni are grateful for his duty of care, and remember him with affection. Colin’s wife Helen, a novelist, died shortly after he retired. Their marriage produced a son and two daughters, Garth, Bryony and Sorrel, of whom he was immensely proud.

Dick Selley