John G. Ramsay

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John Graham Ramsay CBE (born 1931) is a British structural geologist. He went to Imperial College London and became a full professor in 1966. In the following year he published his first book, Folding and Fracturing of Rocks, which garnered him attention in structural geology. He went on to win awards in his field[1]


Born in suburban London in 1931, John Graham Ramsay took his bachelor's degree in Geology at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London graduating with first class honours in 1952 (under the supervision of Prof John Sutton, the first geologist from UK to visit Department of Applied Geology, Dr H S Gour University in Sagar in 1964 along with his structural geologist wife Janet Watson). He did his doctoral work in the Loch Monar area of the Scottish Highlands working on the strain patterns seen in intensely deformed and repeatedly folded rocks of the Moine Series and the relationships seen between folded basement and its cover rocks obtaining a Ph.D. in 1954. After undertaking his military service in the Corps of the Royal Engineers of Great Britain (as a Violoncellist and Tenor drummer. He still plays it and composes as well) he was appointed to the teaching position at the Geology department of Imperial College in 1957. Many of his early fundamental research papers were written while at the Imperial. Later, he held Professorship at Imperial College and then moved to the University of Leeds as a Professor and department chairman in 1973. In 1976, he was appointed as a Professor of Geology at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (and University of Zürich), Switzerland, and he is currently Professor Emeritus in both these departments. He holds a "Doctorat Honoris Causa" of the University of Rennes, France and an honorary professor at the University of Cardiff in Wales. Prof. Richard J. Lisle from Cardiff is the co-author of his 4th book on Application of continuum mechanics to structural geology.

John Ramsay has been author and co-author of four books and many papers in structural geology. He always has been of the opinion that the structures actually observed in naturally deformed rocks form the key to our understanding of the tectonic processes and that the development of mechanical models for the origin of these structures must always be compared with natural observations if they are to be truly relevant. This is probably the reason why in all his papers, the theoretical part is first supplemented by experimental simulation followed by photographs of natural examples.

His work in advancing structural geology has been recognized by the awards of the Bigsby (1973) and Wollaston (1986) medals of the Geological Society of London, the Société Géologique de France Prestwich Medal in 1989, Sir Arthur Holmes Medal of the European Union of Geosciences (EGU) in 1984, C. T. Clough medal (1962) of the Geological Society of Scotland, the University of Liège medal in 1988. In 1992 he was named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Honours list. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 1973), and holds Honorary Fellowships of the Geological Society of America, the Société Géologique de France, the Indian National Science Academy, the American Geophysical Union, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Geological Society of the UK. He has done extensive field work in the Barberton greenstone belt of South Africa and Zimbabwe, and in the East African rift in Sudan apart from his contributions to the Alpine structural geology before and while at Zurich and the great forte of his, the Caledonian belt of the Scottish Highlands.

He continues to do structural geology research work and over the past years, has made structural field studies in the Moine thrust zone of northwest highlands of Scotland as an Honorary Research Adviser to the Geological Survey of UK and Ireland. Although officially retired from active geological teaching at the University of Zürich, he currently teaches violoncello (he continues to love playing cello) and Chamber Music performance in Isirac, France and is actively engaged in doing the musical compositions.



  1. ^ Imperial College bio