John Stuart Webb, the British ‘father of applied geochemistry’, died at Redhill, England, on 2 April 2007. He was born at Balham, London, on 28 August 1920, eldest child of George Stewart Webb and his wife Caroline Rabjohns, née Pengelly. His sister, Mona Audrey, was born in 1924.

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He attended St Mary's school, Balham (1925–30) and Westminster City School, London (1930–38). Despite having given a paper ‘‘On Earthquakes’’ to the school Science Society in 1938, he tossed a coin in his father's garage (where he had a chemical laboratory) to decide whether he should read medicine or geology. He...

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