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Dennis Anthony Carswell, 1941-2006

Tony Carswell died on 7 June 2006 at the age of 64 after a four-year battle against Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Educated at George Watson’s Boys College, Edinburgh, Tony graduated with BSc in Geology from Edinburgh University in 1963 and obtained his PhD there in 1966 for a thesis on ultrabasic rocks in southern Norway. He joined the Department of Geology (subsequently Earth Sciences then Environmental & Geological Sciences) at the University of Sheffield as a lecturer (1966) with promotions to senior lecturer (1981), reader (1987) and the Sorby Chair of Geology (1999).

The orogenic peridotites and eclogites of southern Norway became the focus of his work during the 1970s, consolidated by a Royal Society Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Oslo in1972. During the late 1970’s his work on upper mantle rocks was extended to kimberlite xenoliths, applying mineral thermobarometry to the evaluation of palaeo-geotherms. Tony’s painstaking evaluations of the emerging geothermobarometers became a hallmark of his research.

Much of his research in the 1980s and 1990s focused on eclogite facies rocks and their implications for processes of subduction and crust-mantle interactions in continental collision zones, extending his efforts to the Variscides, Dabieshan, Indonesia and Scotland. In 1988 Tony gained his DSc (Edinburgh) and soon afterwards edited Eclogite Facies Rocks (1990), which became the definitive book on the subject. In 1991 he led a Royal Society Anglo-Chinese project on High Pressure Metamorphism and Collision Tectonics. Rapid developments in ultra-high pressure metamorphism led Tony back to Norway in the mid-'90s and he was delighted when this bore fruit with the discovery of microdiamonds in the peridotite at Bardane.

In 1994 Tony was elected to the Task Group for the International Lithosphere Programme project on Ultra High Pressure Metamorphism & Geodynamics, alongside an active group from the Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences at Stanford, USA where, in 1998-99, he spent six months as a Cox Visiting Professor. He led the organisation of the International Eclogite Conference in Norway in 2003. He was unable to attend due to the diagnosis of cancer, but his efforts were central to the success of the meeting. In temporary remission, he chaired a session at the 32nd International Geological Congress in 2004 and his friends have special memories of dining with him al fresco in the Tuscan hills, free of health worries for an all-too-brief period.

Tony’s approach was always one of curiosity, determination and unfailing optimism. He applied the same resilient approach to dealing with his illness and remained active under circumstances that many would find insuperable. Over 38 years he published over 120 articles, remarkably with more than 85 co-authors, reflecting his influence & esteem. He was a founder member of the Metamorphic Studies Group, chairing it from 1988-91, and where he is remembered for his encouragement of young researchers. He served on the Mineralogical Society Council from 1984-91, and on the editorial boards of Lithos (1984-2006) and the European Journal of Mineralogy (1996-99).

Tony was a talented geologist, an exceptional petrologist and a scientist of the highest integrity. As the UK’s foremost authority on high-pressure petrology and the geodynamics of collision zones he enjoyed an outstanding international reputation. He will be greatly missed by the community with which he worked so closely, and especially by his wife Gill, daughter Suzanne, son Andrew and four grandchildren.

Fergus Gibb & Simon Cuthbert