Product has been added to the basket

William Alfred (Bill) Read, 1928 – 2004

Bill Read, who died on 10 June, was a leading exponent of the mathematical approach to geological problems, especially in the fields of sedimentology and basin analysis. He was also renowned for his great sense of humour.

His early life was spent in east London, the son of a Thames lighterman, and he graduated with First Class Honours in geology at University College London in 1949. He then joined the British Geological Survey’s Edinburgh office, was called up for National Service, and returned to Edinburgh in 1952. There followed a long period of field mapping and coalfield borehole logging in Stirlingshire, and it was this experience that formed the basis for his academic interests: Carboniferous sedimentology, the mechanisms of basin subsidence, and the structure of the Scottish Midland Valley. He was in all these fields a great initiator, applying new insights and techniques to the rocks he knew best.

His earliest research papers relate to cyclical sedimentation in the coal-bearing rocks of Scotland and the parallels that can be drawn with the cyclothems of the USA. This work involved his lifelong friend Ian Forsyth, the first of many co-workers.

Then, inspired by George Goodlet’s work in central Scotland, he started to apply mathematical techniques to the Stirlingshire borehole data.These methods allowed him to delve deeper into the workings of sedimentary basins and to understand better the mechanisms of cyclical sedimentation. His most important publications, produced over three decades, were on these subjects. Co-workers included Mike Dean in Scotland and Dan Merriam at the Kansas Geological Survey, where he spent eight months as a Visiting Research Scientist in 1970-71. His PhD, awarded by London University in 1970, deals with the same subjects.

Other fields explored by Bill during the 1960’s were the sedimentology of the Old Red Sandstone (with Steve Johnson at Shell UK) and the origin of the ‘cementstone’ facies of the Lower Carboniferous in Scotland and eastern Canada (with Ed Belt at Amherst College).

In 1972 his Survey career took a decisive turn, with promotion to District Geologist for the southeast of England and a transfer to the London office. He became head of the newly established Deep Geology Group in 1977, moved to the Keyworth office, and in 1981 resumed control of the southeast England Group. He retired in 1985 and was later attached to the Geology Departments at Leicester and Keele Universities.

Throughout this period in the BGS management, and in retirement, his research continued to be centred on the Midland Valley of Scotland. In the 1990s he began to apply sequence-stratigraphic models to the Scottish Carboniferous, again a groundbreaking application of new ideas. He also produced several overview papers on aspects of the Scottish Carboniferous, the most recent being a large contribution to the 4th edition of The Geology of Scotland, published in 2002.

He is survived by his wife Hilda, to whom he was married in 1958, and by William their son, his wife Jane, and their daughter Jennifer. William’s elder brother, David, died in 1965.

Ian Chisholm