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Bruce William Sellwood, 1946-2007

It is with great regret that we report the death of Bruce Sellwood who, as a former Professor of Applied Sedimentology in the Department of Geology and subsequently the Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology, Emeritus Professor and Research Fellow, was one of the UKs most respected, and well-known sedimentologists.

Bruce undertook his undergraduate degree at Reading, graduating in 1967 before going onto Oxford for his DPhil in early Jurassic stratigraphy and ecology under Prof. Tony Hallam. One of the references for Bruce in 1967 describes him as ‘bubbling over with intellectual and physical vigour and imagination, Sellwood already shows definite promise for original research. He has that desirable ability to bring a fresh view to problems, whether formal exercises or independent investigations, and, moreover, the innocent personality to do it pleasantly’. Those who knew Bruce will recognise that many of these traits stayed with him throughout his life. After his DPhil, Bruce undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford before taking up a lecturing post at the then Oxford Polytechnic until 1974. He was quick to return to Reading to take up a position as lecturer in the Geology Department in 1974 under the then Head of Department, Prof. Perce Allen. Bruce remained in Reading for the rest of his academic career, being promoted to a Personal Chair in 1993, and brought a great deal of respect to both the Department of Geology and the Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology.

Bruce was one of Britain’s foremost sedimentologists and was an acknowledged world expert. His research interests were very wide, but mostly in the European Mesozoic and early Tertiary. His earlier work on the stratigraphy, palaeoecology and sedimentology of the British Jurassic led directly to his later interests in the diagenesis of carbonate and siliclastic rocks. His expertise brought him into frequent contact with many oil and gas companies operating in the UK and abroad, where he became an invaluable expert, particularly for onshore oil exploration in Southern England. As a consequence of this he was able to extend his own research interests and fund a substantial number of research students. At his death Bruce, with others, had supervised a total of 45 PhD students - from Keith Morris (started 1976) to Kevin Hayward (finished 2006). Bruce also taught extensively on the MSc in Sedimentology at Reading which produced a large number of people who are now in the upper echelons of geological industries. Bruce kept in contact with many of these people throughout his career. He was often described as an inspirational teacher by past and present students, and served as head of Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology from 2001-2003.

Bruce made a number of major contributions to the oil and gas sector over his career by acting as a consultant, teacher and expert, as well as serving on numerous bodies such as the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association Drill Cuttings Advisory Group (1999-2002). He served academia in equal measure being, among others, an Editor in Chief of "Sedimentary Geology" for over 20 years.

Although Bruce retired in 2006 he was still active both as a researcher and teacher. He was working on a number of key scientific papers and projects at the time of his death, notably, Water, Life and Civilisation. Bruce began his palaeoclimatology research with the Department of Meteorology at Reading in the late 1980s and went on to publish numerous articles in this area until his death. During his career Bruce published over 150 papers and several textbooks including the seminal works: "Dynamic Stratigraphy of the British Isles" with R Anderton, P Bridges and M R Leeder, (1979), and the shallow marine carbonate environments chapter in Harold Reading’s 1978 "Sedimentary Environments and Facies". However, he was at his best in the field, standing in front of an outcrop, pondering the nature of the deposits and grinning with enthusiasm when he had worked it out. Everyone on his undergraduate, postgraduate and industry field courses will remember the enthusiasm and knowledge that he brought to them, as well as to the drinking afterwards! One of Bruce’s favourite places was Mallorca, for which he produced a GA field guide (with H C Jenkyns and L Pomar) in 1990.

Bruce enjoyed geology, life, his family, wine, travel, opera, good company and laughter. His repertoire of jokes and funny stories could keep people entertained for hours. Bruce was a keen member of the Maiden Earley Wine Society and obtained his Wine and Spirit Educational Trust qualifications in 2003. He taught a number of wine courses, which appealed to his sense of fun. He also became Senior Wine Steward for the Senior Common Room at the University of Reading (2002 to 2003).

Bruce was very well liked and will be very greatly missed by us all. He leaves his wife Jan and two sons: Matthew 29 and Daniel 27, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.

Stuart Black