Ted Ringwood

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Alfred Edward "Ted" Ringwood
Born (1930-04-19)April 19, 1930
Kew, Melbourne, Australia
Died November 12, 1993(1993-11-12) (aged 63)
Fields Geochemistry, Petrology, Planetology
Institutions Australian National University
Alma mater Melbourne University
Thesis Studies in geochemistry (1956)
Academic advisors Arthur Gaskin, Francis Birch
Influences Victor Moritz Goldschmidt,
Notable awards Clarke Medal (1992)
V. M. Goldschmidt Award (1991)
Wollaston Medal (1988)
William Bowie Medal (1974)

Alfred Edward "Ted" Ringwood FRS[2] (19 April 1930 – 12 November 1993) was an Australian experimental geophysicist and geochemist, and the 1988 recipient of the Wollaston Medal.[3]

The mineral ringwoodite is named after him.

Early life and study[edit]

Ringwood was born in Kew, only child of Alfred Edward Ringwood. He attended Hawthorn West State School where he played cricket and Australian Rules football. In 1943 he was successful in gaining a scholarship to Geelong Grammar School where he boarded. On matriculation, he enrolled in Geology a science degree at the University of Melbourne where he held a Commonwealth Government Scholarship, and was awarded a resident scholarship at Trinity College. He represented the college and the University in football. He obtained First Class Honours degree in Geology and began a MSc degree in field-mapping and petrology of the Devonian Snowy River volcanics of northeastern Victoria, graduating with Honours in 1953. Ringwood then undertook a PhD, beginning an experimental study about the origin of metalliferous ore deposits, but later changed his research topic so as to apply geochemistry to an understanding of the structure of the Earth, in particular the mineralogical constitution of the Earth's mantle.[4]

Germanate and earth's mantle[edit]

In the late 1950s and 1960s Ringwood worked on germanates. He discovered that they served as low-pressure analogue to high-pressure silicates. With this insight he was able to predict that the phase changes of the mantle minerals olivine and pyroxene should occur in the Transition Zone. At the Australian National University he began experimental study of silicates at high pressure, and in 1959 demonstrated that the iron end-member of olivine indeed transformed to the denser spinel structure, as did numerous germanate and germanate-silicate solid solutions. In 1966, Ringwood and Alan Major, the technical officer who worked with him from 1964 to 1993, synthesized the spinel form of (Mg,Fe)2SiO4, Also in 1966, the transformation of pure forsterite (Mg2SiO4) to spinel-like phase was achieved.

In 1969 a new mineral was discovered in fragments of the Tenham meteorite which had the same crystal structure as the high pressure spinel polymorph of olivine. This was the first time that Ringwood's predicted polymorph was found in nature. Honouring the importance of Ringwood's work the mineral was named ringwoodite.[5] A team from the University of Alberta have isolated terrestrial ringwoodite in a brown diamond specimen found in Brazil in 2008.[6] Their research suggests the presence of water deep within the Earth's mantle.

Later life[edit]

In 1978, his ANU team invented synroc, a possible means of safely storing and disposing of radioactive waste.

Ringwood died of lymphoma on 12 November 1993 at the age of 63.


Ringwood received numerous honours and awards for his work.

He also received the Werner medal, Arthur Holmes Medal, Harry H. Hess Medal and the J. C. Jaeger Medal.[7]

The European Association of Geochemistry quinquennially awards a Science Innovation Award medal named in his honour for work in petrology and mineral physics.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Ringwood, A.E. (1979). Origin of the earth and moon. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0387903699. 
  • Ringwood, A.E. (1976). Composition and petrology of the earth's mantle. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780070529328. 


  1. ^ "Alfred Edward Ringwood". http://science.org.au. Retrieved 20 December 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ Green, D. H. (1998). "Alfred Edward Ringwood. 19 April 1930-12 November 1993". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 44: 351. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1998.0023. 
  3. ^ "Wollaston Medal". Award Winners since 1831. Geological Society of London. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  4. ^ Memoir, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol.12, no.2, 1998.
  5. ^ Binns, R. A.; Davis, R. J.; Reed, S. J. B. (7 March 1969). "Ringwoodite, Natural (Mg,Fe)2SiO4 Spinel in the Tenham Meteorite". Nature. 221 (5184): 943–944. doi:10.1038/221943a0. 
  6. ^ Pearson, D. G.; Brenker, F. E.; Nestola, F; McNeill, J; Nasdala, L; Hutchison, M. T.; Matveev, S; Mather, K; Silversmit, G; Schmitz, S; Vekemans, B; Vincze, L (13 March 2014). "Hydrous mantle transition zone indicated by ringwoodite included within diamond". Nature. 507 (7491): 221–224. PMID 24622201. doi:10.1038/nature13080. 
  7. ^ "Alfred Edward Ringwood 1930-1993". http://science.org.au. Retrieved 20 December 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)

Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Shirley Winifred Jeffrey
Clarke Medal
Succeeded by
Gordon C. Grigg