Sir Douglas Mawson  (1882-1958), geologist and explorer, was born on 5 May 1882 at Shipley, Yorkshire, England, second son of Robert Ellis Mawson, a cloth merchant from a farming background, and his wife Margaret Ann, née Moore, from the Isle of Man. The family moved to Rooty Hill, near Sydney, in 1884. Douglas was educated at Rooty Hill and at Fort Street Model School in Sydney. At the University of Sydney in 1899-1901 he studied mining engineering and graduated B.E. in 1902 when he was appointed as a junior demonstrator in chemistry.
Next year he took six months leave to make a geological survey of the New Hebrides (Vanuatu), under the auspices of Captain E. G. Rason, the British deputy commissioner there. This was Mawson's introduction to scientific exploration, carried out in rugged country with dense jungle and among hostile inhabitants. His report, The geology of the New Hebrides, was one of the first major works on the geology of Melanesia. . . . more . . adb.anu.edu
. . . . He returned to further studies in geology in 1904 (B.Sc., 1905), having already published a paper (1903) on the geology of Mittagong, New South Wales, with Thomas Griffith Taylor and one (1904) on radioactive minerals in Australia, with Thomas Laby, in addition to several on the New Hebrides.
Through the early influence of Professor Archibald Liversidge, Mawson became a pioneer in the chemical aspects of geology and geochemistry. But the dominant influence was that of Professor (Sir) Tannatt Edgeworth David, foremost among workers in the geological sciences in Australia. . . .
. . . . In November 1907 (Sir) Ernest Shackleton, leader of the British Antarctic Expedition, visited Adelaide on his way south. Mawson approached him with a view to making the round trip to Antarctica on the Nimrod. His idea was to see an existing continental ice-cap and to become acquainted with glaciation and its geological consequences. This interested him because in his South Australian studies he was 'face-to-face with a great accumulation of glacial sediments of Precambrian age, the greatest thing of the kind recorded anywhere in the world'. After consulting with David, who had agreed to join the expedition, Shackleton telegraphed: 'You are appointed Physicist for the duration of the expedition'. Mawson accepted, and so began his long association with the Antarctic. . . .
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