Vale Robert John Tingey (1940-2017)

Bob Tingey hitting a rock in Antarctica with a long handled hammer.
Geologist Bob Tingey collecting samples at Proclamation Island (Enderby Land) in 1977. Enderby Land contains some of the world’s oldest rocks, providing glimpses into the evolution of the very early Earth. Bob edited the seminal work, The Geology of Antarctica, which provides an authoritative stocktake of Antarctic geology. (Photo: Bob Tingey/Geoscience Australia)

Robert (Bob) John Tingey, a prominent Antarctic scientist and Australian Antarctic Medal recipient, passed away on the 17th November 2017 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Bob joined the Bureau of Mineral Resources in 1966, answering an advertisement for geophysicists for Antarctic service, and was promptly offered a position in the Bureau’s Port Moresby office. However, after several years working in Papua New Guinea, the Antarctic finally called.

For many years Bob led the Bureau’s Antarctic Program, overseeing and participating in major field mapping campaigns in remote areas; places rarely visited even today. He participated in seven field seasons in Antarctica and had several geographic features named after him*, including Tingey Rocks in the western Amery region, Tingey Nunataks in Enderby Land and the Tingey Glacier in the southern Prince Charles Mountains.

Bob recognised the value of international collaborations in the Antarctic, in particular with the then Soviet Antarctic Expeditions, which resulted in a number of joint publications including the Australian Geological Survey Organisation bulletin Geology of the Prince Charles Mountains. Bob fostered much international respect and was regularly invited to present keynote talks at International Antarctic conferences. He served as Secretary of the Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research Working Group on Geology for eight years, standing down in 1988 due to poor health.

In 1990 Bob received the coveted Australian Antarctic Medal for services to Australia’s Antarctic Program, in part due to his seminal work, The Geology of Antarctica (1991), a comprehensive volume compassing all geological disciplines and eras, from the Archaean to the Holocene. This volume still stands as an authoritative stocktake of Antarctica geology.

After 30 years Bob retired from the Bureau of Mineral Resources in 1996, due to Parkinson’s disease, but his passion and enthusiasm for geology and the Antarctic remained, and he always took an interest in Geoscience Australia’s Antarctic activities.

More recently, Bob was a valued contributor to Geoscience Australia’s Antarctic Field Notebook Citizen Science Transcription project. His presence during all of the project’s major events greatly enriched the project and we are grateful to Bob, his wife Nancy and the Tingey family for their support and enthusiasm in ensuring that Bob’s Antarctic legacy lives on.

Chris Carson and Jane Black
Geoscience Australia

*View an interactive map of geographic features in Antarctica named after Geoscience Australia employees.