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Donald McIntyre Ann, Donald and Ewen at St Andrews Ewen at Kinfauns Ewen
1. 2. 3. 4.
Donald McIntyre
Pomona College
Claremont CA.
Thanksgiving 1973
(Lionel Weiss)
Ann & Donald
with Ewen
St Andrews
(Detlef Matthies)
(Detlef Matthies)
(Andy Paterson)
Donald McIntyre, Seaver Lab Ann with Yucca Ewen camping
5. 6. 7.
Donald McIntyre
Click for
Professor of the Year

(Gerhard Ott)
Ann admiring Yucca flowers
Mojave Desert, 1960
Ewen's first experience
of camping in the desert
Mojave Desert, c.1969

I was born in Edinburgh in 1923 and educated at George Watson's Boys College. During the 2nd World War I was evacuated to Grantown Grammar School where I became an enthusiastic mountaineer.

For an account of climbing the seven highest Cairngorms in one day, click on Seven Cairngorms.

While a chemistry student at Edinburgh University I discovered the field of geology and completed my B.Sc. degree as a geologist. I joined the Edinburgh Geological Society in 1943. My first publication (presented to the Mineralogical Society in 1945) was jointly with Dr Arnold Beevers: "The crystal structure of Apatite and its relation to tooth and bone material". This was an early contribution towards the understanding of the role of fluorine in teeth.

Professor Wegmann with Ceppi

Professor Wegmann and "Ceppi", April 1966.

After I completed a Ph.D. (on the Loch Doon granite), Professor Arthur Holmes sent me to Neuchâtel to spend a year studying Alpine Tectonics with Professor C.E. Wegmann, and the use of the Federov Universal Stage with Professor Max Reinhard (Basle). This study was made possible by grants from the Cross and the Carnegie Foundations, for which I am very grateful.

I learned a great deal from Wegmann. He and Mme Wegmann came to our wedding in Edinburgh in the depths of winter – indeed Wegmann gave the toast; they joined us in the Highlands for a geological excursion during our honeymoon; and played the role of extra grandparents to our son, who was named Ewen after Professor Wegmann.

Three things I learned from him were (1) the distinction between geometry, kinematics, and dynamics, and the role of the fold-axis in structural geology – in this he was passing on Argand's teaching; (2) that fractional crystallisation may be important in igneous petrology, but fractional distillation is vital for the proper appreciation of fine wine; and (3) that knowlege of the history of science is both fascinating in itself and an essentail backgound for understanding how science works.

My first task at Neuchâtel was to study the reprints of Wegmann's published papers. I was especially impressed with his account of what I paraphrase as "alpine tectonics and the study of ancient mountain chains". There was obviously a lesson here for a Scottish geologist.

Wegmann had been a student and assistant to his own teacher – Professor Emile Argand – all of whose publications were, of course, readily available in Neuchâtel. I was thrilled with Argand's 1911 analysis of the tectonics of the Pennine Alps (the field area for Argand's Ph.D. included the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa!) and I was struck with awe and wonder at Argand's 1926 masterly views of The Tectonics of Asia. Although Argand had died before I arrived in Neuchâtel, I knew Argand's teacher, Maurice Lugeon, who gave me the last remaining copy of his 1901 monograph on the Nappe Structure of the Alps and a copy of his marvelous map of the Morcles and Diablerets nappe.

A facsimile of a portion of the letter Lugeon wrote to me on 26 October 1949 has been published by A.M. Hopgood (Determination of Structural Successions in Migmatites and Gneisses, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999, p.134-135). Lugeon addressed his letter to "Mon cher Confrère". As a generous salutation Lugeon wrote: "Amitiés et poignée de mains. L'arrière grand père en tectonique".

For photographs of some great geologists who had an early and profound influence on me click on Some Master Geologists

I was already a Committee Member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, and in Neuchâtel I joined the Swiss Alpine Club. I learned ski mountaineering at the SAC's course in the Bernina Mountains.

Donald and Ranald McIntyre at Davos, 1948

When my brother, Ranald, was demobilised from the REME, he joined me and we enjoyed great skiing at Davos.

I returned to Edinburgh in 1948 first to succeed Dr R.M. Craig and later Dr Robert Campbell. My research interests were by then in tectonics and I applied what I had learned in Switzerland to the study of the deformed rocks of the Scottish Highlands. As I travelled throughout the Highlands, a car was essential, and when I bought a van that had been used during the War in the North African Desert, I became the only member of the Geology staff to have a vehicle. (In those days VAT was 100%). Ownership of the van allowed me to take students to study Alpine tectonics in Switzerland.

Playing the pipes in Switzerland

Tourists from the UK were still rare, and as we couldn't afford lodgings, we camped. Particularly in the mountains local people expressed great appreciation for the cornemuse – See G.R. de Beer, Escape to Switzerland, Chap.6, 1945.
The photo was taken by a local man and later sent to me.

The British Association for the Advancement of Science held it first big post-war meeting in Edinburgh in 1951; I was appointed Local Secretary and organised the field excursions. I led a post-meeeting excursion to the Highlands for three distinguished structural geologists: Francis J. [Frank] Turner (Berkeley), H.W.[Harold Williams] Fairbairn (MIT), and Anders Kvale (Norway) [See: "Some roots of experimental rock deformation", Hans-Rudolf Wenk, Bulletin de Mineralogie 102 (1979) 195-202.]

Turner was one of the leading experts on metamorphic rocks and was then Chairman of U.C. Berkeley's prestigious geology department. Fairbairn was the author of Introduction to Petrofabric Analysis (1933), later Structural Petrology (1937, 1942, 1949). Kvale was the leading young structural geologist in Norway. Kvale later published a paper in the QJGS arising from his observations on this field trip.

Lunch stop in the Highlands

Lunch stop in the Highlands: Turner on left (with hat); Fairbairn top right; Kvale bottom right

I am above & behind Kvale. I am wearing a fishing helmet & smoking a pipe. Others are Mrs Esmé Turner, Gillian Turner, Mrs Kvale, Harold Rutledge (left), George Black (top), "Mac" Whittaker. R.H. "Bob" Clark was photographer; Lynn Clark, looking at Mrs Kvale, has her back to the camera.

Lunch at Loch an Eilein

Lunch at Loch an Eilein, below Ord Ban, Rothiemurchus

We examined the folded quartzites which I had described in the Geological Magazine. Later Lionel Weiss and I co-operated on a further study, also published in the Geological Magazine. He also published a fine photograph in his book, The Minor Structures of Deformed Rocks: a Photographic Atlas (1972)

Peach & Horne's bench, Inchnadamph

Inchnadamph Hotel.
N.W. Highlands

This is the bench on which Ben Peach and John Horne sat in the well-known photograph of these great pioneers. Peach and Horne's meticulous mapping of the thrust-belt made Assynt a world-famous geological locality. Frank Turner asked McIntyre and Kvale to pose for this photograph by Bob Clark.

Inchnadamph Hotel

Inchnadamph Hotel.
N.W. Highlands

Turner, Fairbairn, Rutledge, McIntyre, Black, Whittaker, Clark, Kvale; Mrs Kvale, Esmé Turner, &Gill Turner pay hommage to Peach & Horne. Lynn Clark took the photograph.

Oykell Bridge

Oykell Bridge
en route to Assynt,
N.W. Highlands

McIntyre and Fairbairn discussing mullion structure and the Moine thrust. Turner looking on. When I left Edinburgh in 1954 I gave my famous van "and contents" to Lionel Weiss. A pair of black shoes needed for Lionel‘s graduation ceremony (D.Sc. Edinburgh) were discovered in the van. Photo by Bob Clark, reproduced from Rudy Wenk's paper (Bull. Minéral., 1979, v.102, p.199)

Frank &Esmé Turner, Berkeley

Frank & Esmé Turner, Berkeley

Photo by Lionel Weiss
The other pioneers of experimental rock deformation discussed by Rudy Wenk were Eleanora Bliss Knopf (Yale) and Dave T. Griggs (UCLA)

As a result of this 1951 excursion Turner invited me to Berkeley as a Research Associate during the summer of 1952. This opportunity was funded by a Fulbright Award. Turner and I interpreted the deformation of calcite crystals in marbles from Grantown-on-Spey in the light of David Grigg's experimental work at UCLA. (Geological Magazine).

The Arvin-Tehachapi earthquake took place at the south end of the San Joaquin Valley, and I had the opportunity to study its effects in the company of the Berkeley seismologists. I also met Lionel Weiss, with whom I later worked in Scotland. Lionel, who in 1952 was a Commonwealth Fellow at Berkeley, invited me to visit his research area in the Mojave Desert. We had the privilege of seeing Death Valley and the isolated Shadow Mountains to the south-east under the guidance of the great field-geologist D. Foster Hewett, who mapped the area from 1930-1956.

Click here for Lionel Weiss' photographs of geologists in the Alps in 1954

Click here for Lionel Weiss' photographs of a Highland geologist in 1954

Professor A.O. Woodford, the long-time Chairman of Pomona College's Geology Department in Claremont, California, was due to retire in 1955. Pomona's President (E. Wilson Lyon) consulted Frank Turner and Howell Williams at the University of California, Berkeley, and Turner sent me a cable to say that they had recommended me as Woodford's successor. In 1953 President Lyon, who was attending a Rhodes Reunion, invited me to meet him in Oxford. Dr Lyon described Pomona as a small Liberal Arts College, and I was easily persuaded that nothing could better further my education. Although Edinburgh University was not large it had some of the disadvantages of a big University: as a student I had been unable to take any courses apart from mathematics, chemistry, and geology – not even courses on the history and philosophy of science; physics and chemistry, geology, zoology, and engineering were at the King's Building, two miles from Mathematics and Physics, and further still from Botany. Edinburgh University had no staff club, but in order to meet people in other fields I sometimes had lunch at the Student Union near the Old College.

Unlike physics and chemistry, geology is greatly influenced by the setting in which it is taught and practised. As H.H. Read said: "The best geologist is the one who has seen the most geology". James Hutton, the founder of modern geology, lived in Scotland – a small country which owes its varied scenery to its varied geology. But whereas Scotland's geological activity was in the distant past, California is geologically young. Imagine the thrill of a scientist seeing a live animal for the first time, having previously been familiar with the detailed anatomy only of dead animals. So it was for a young geologist leaving Scotland for California!

I arrived at Pomona College in the fall of 1954. For the first year the staff consisted only of A.O. Woodford and myself with a lab assistant, Alex K. Baird, who had newly graduated and was starting to work for a Master's degree. The teaching load was heavy: paleontology was one of the courses I taught – a field quite outside my expertise – and I taught a Masters program single-handed in the evening.

In 1956 I gave the Banquet Address at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (Cordilleran Section) and the Seismological Society of America, in Reno, Nevada. This brought me in contact with John Hodgson, Dominion Seismologist in Ottawa, who invited me to write an appendix to his pioneering GSA paper on first motions of great earthquakes. Later John M. Christie, who had followed me from Edinburgh, collaborated on a further paper on seismic first motion which we presented to the International Geophysical Conference in Toronto in 1957. John Hodgson arranged also for me to spend the summer of 1957 with the team making a gravity survey of the otherwise inaccessible area east of Great Whale. At Clearwater Lake I collected, and later described, some of the first known examples of impact metamorphism.

With the help Roger Revelle, a Pomona Alumnus and Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, made it possible for some of us to visit the uninhabited San Benito islands, off the Pacific Coast of Baja California. My Pomona colleague John S. Shelton and I also taught a summer geological field-course at the remote Turtle Bay on the Pacific coast of Baja California. These areas display marvellously exposed shear-zone of serpentine, glaucophane schist and pillow lavas overlain by Miocene and Pliocene marine sediments. Lionel Weiss, then back in Berkeley, joined us on a subsequent expedition to Cedros Island off the coast of Turtle Bay.

Click here for a few of Lionel Weiss' photographs of a geologists in Baja California.

If the spirit moves and time permits I will add a bit more to this story!

Meantime I throw in a CV which gives a chronology of my professional life:

To display click on Curriculum Vitae.

Pomona College's new Seaver Laboratory, 1957

Click on a thumbnail to display a larger image

My Officein the Seaver Lab

Note the new Leitz microscope with Universal Stage; the geological map of Turtle Bay, Baja California; and the state-of-the-art Marchant electronic calculator – the start of my use of computing methods in geology!

Clary Computer. 1961

Teaching Jim Williams how to program the Geology Department's Clary DE-60 computer, 1961. The Clary had a drum memory of 16 [sic]!

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