John Graham Ramsay


Just like other contributors to this remembrance, John had a pivotal influence on my geological career, and indeed the course of my life. Jack Treagus and Robin Nicholson in Manchester had already interested me in structural geology as an undergraduate. However, when I started in the second cohort of the Imperial M.Sc. course in 1970, I was still undecided whether to stay in geology or to join a family business. John’s enthusiasm and teaching style quickly won me over.

One field trip in particular sealed my commitment to geology, the 1971 trip to the Eriboll imbricate thrust zone also remembered by Iain Allison. We worked in pairs to produce our own field maps, whilst John covered the ground at about five times the pace. In the evening, I inked in and coloured my map opposite John and compared the results; mine a rather lifeless record of observations with tentative contacts and John’s not only a complete geological map but a thing of beauty. John explained to me how a geological map was a work of art as much as a work of science. I was hooked. I went on to do a Ph.D with John, then into an academic career founded on field based research. But my field maps never got close to John’s standard.

The three images are from a visit by John and Dorothee to Cambridge in 2013, when John was archiving some of his field maps with the Sedgwick Museum. John is seen a) with Dorothee and his Arnisdale map and a string quartet playing his compositions, b) assessing the strain of Adam Sedgwick’s deformed trilobite, and c) with me and John’s field map that so influenced me in 1971.

My condolences to Dorothee and the rest of John’s family.



Nigel Woodcock

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