In March 1936, Phillips began fieldwork for his next project, ‘A fabric study of some Moine Schists and associated rocks’ (Phillips 1937b). This was based on a collection of ‘about 200 orientated specimens,144 with accompanying field data’ from an area lying mainly north of Glen Moriston and NW of Glen Mor (Glenmore-nan-Albin), the 97 km long depression which forms the ‘Great Glen’ of Scotland (Fig. 5.2). He completed the work amazingly quickly - in less than a year, he submitted the manuscript to the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. It was sent to Read (who was by then George Herdman Professor of Geology at the University of Liverpool, following his appointment in 1931) for review on 17 March 1937. It is almost certain that this manuscript also formed the basis for Phillips’ Sedgwick Prize submission. It was announced in the University Reporter of 2 March 1937 (G. Waller, pers. comm. 1998), that the prize had been jointly awarded to Phillips and to the geophysicist (Sir) Edward Crisp Bullard (1907-1980).145
Sander had already made a plea that ‘there ought not to be microtectonists and megatectonists working independently of each other, but rather one group of workers investigating the correlations between process in large and small units’ (Sander 1934, p. 37). For his part, Phillips (1937b, p. 584) stated that ‘any attempt to make fabric studies a substitute for fieldwork, rather than a valuable auxiliary in the course of the subsequent work in the laboratory, is thoroughly deplored’.
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The Life of Frank Coles Phillips (1902–1982) and the Structural Geology of the Moine Petrofabric Controversy
Frank Coles Phillips was a photographer mineralogists and structural petrologists working in themiddle of the twentieth century. He was very influential, both in the UK and abroad and was responsible for encouraging the development of structural geology as a discipline in Australia and for the adoption of the stereogram as a fundamental interpretational tool in structural geology in the UK. He was a superb teacher, perhaps best known amongst mineralogist and geologist of today for his classic textbooks, An Introduction to Crystallography and The Use Steographic Projection in Structural Geology.
Phillips was the first to apply the methods of structural petrology (the study of the microscopic fabric of deformed rocks) in an attempt to unravel the complex structural history of the Moine rocks of northwestern Scotland. his findings were at odds with those of his contemporaries and resulted in the Moine petrofabrics becoming embroiled in a long-running controversy, only completely resolved since the mid-1980s.
This geological biography of an important twentieth century mineralogist and petrolohist takes a critical look at Philips' research in the context of contemporaneous developments in structural and Moine geology. It reviews his work in relation to both past problems and present solutions. It will be of interest to all gelogist, especially structural and microstructural geologist, historians of science and the general leader with an interest in science.