Background to controversy
During World War II, and immediately thereafter, the study of Moine geology languished. After Sutton and Watson had completed their PhD studies of the Lewisian foreland under Read (Sutton & Watson 1951), they remained at Imperial College and turned their attention to the still vexed question of the exact relationship between the Moine metasediments and the Lewisian-type rocks enclosed within them. Were the Lewisian-type rocks in inliers underlying unconformable Moine metasediments, or were they part of the Moine succession, or were they thrust-slices into it? The Geological Survey and many others believed the views of Peach et al. (1907) that the Lewisian rocks were in inliers, whereas Read (1934b), as we have seen, took the opposite view. With their recent familiarity with the Lewisian complex, Sutton and Watson were well qualified to examine the problem. Moreover, the use of cross-bedding, which occurs in the Moine metasediments (Wilson et al. 1953), to indicate stratigraphic way-up in metasedimentary successions, was by now established. This tool was able to show way-up direction even in tightly folded Moine rocks.
Under Read at Imperial College, for the first time in British university geological research, teams of researchers, staff, research students and research fellows systematically examined areas of regional geology. One team, under Read and Pitcher (to 1955), concentrated on the geology of Donegal and the Donegal granite (1947-1963),259 while another, initiated by Sutton and Watson, examined the Moine succession.
Figures & Tables
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.