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Violet Rosemary Strachan Hutton (22 October 1925 - 1 April 2004) was a British geophysicist and pioneer of magnetotellurics. Her research focused on the use of electromagnetic methods to determine the electrical conductivity and structure of the Earth's crust, lithosphere and upper mantle, with a particular focus on the African continent and Scotland. Rosemary, as she preferred to be known[1], spent over two decades at the University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences as a researcher and lecturer and was a Fellow of many societies including the American Geophysical Union and The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Early years, Ph.D. and her time in Africa[edit]

Rosemary was born in Dundee, Scotland on 22nd October 1925, where she attended the Harris Academy. In 1948 she received an MA in Mathematics and Physics from the University of St Andrews and went on to take up a Physics lectureship at the University of Ghana in 1954. During her time in Ghana, Rosemary registered for a higher degree and in 1961 was awarded a Ph.D. from London University, which at that time was connected with the University of Ghana. Her thesis was entitled, 'Earth Current Variations in the Equatorial Region' and focused on electromagnetic field fluctuations associated with the equatorial electrojet.

Following her Ph.D., Rosemary stayed in Africa for 15 years, first moving to Nigeria in 1963, as a Senior Lecturer in Physics at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and later gaining an Associate Professorship position in the Department of Physics at the University of Ibadan. During this time, she taught a range of undergraduate physics courses whilst continuing to develop her research in the field of geomagnetism, publishing 13 papers in scientific journals [1]. This research attracted worldwide attention and Rosemary became widely respected in both the geomagnetic and wider geophysical community[2] .

Move to Edinburgh and teaching[edit]

Rosemary's work in Africa was recognized by Professor Alan Cook FRS, who invited her to join the newly established University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences. In 1969, Rosemary took up a lectureship in Edinburgh where she remained for over two decades, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1973, Reader in 1982 and retiring as an Honorary Fellow in 1991[2].


Rosemary's research focused on three main areas[1]:

  1. The electrical conductivity structure of the Earth and planets
  2. Continental rift systems and geothermal regions
  3. Source fields of geomagnetic time variations.


  1. ^ a b c Creer, Kenneth. "Obituary: Violet Rosemary Strachan Hutton" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Hobbs, Bruce (2004). "Rosemary Hutton; Fred Whipple". Astronomy & Geophysics. 45 (6): 6.34. doi:10.1046/j.1468-4004.2003.45634.x. Retrieved 3 December 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)