Former Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) scientist, Dr Jon Stephenson, was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia yesterday (Australia Day) “for service to the earth sciences as an academic, to the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions organisation, and to environmental and resource management”.
Dr Stephenson, a geologist, who died in May last year, was a member of the 1963 expedition to Heard Island, where he and two companions attempted to climb Big Ben, the glaciated active volcano that dominates the island. Throughout the journey Dr Stephenson collected rocks for later studies of their age, petrology and palaeomagneticsm, substantially extending the knowledge of the island’s geology. In recognition of this contribution, Stephenson Glacier and Stephenson Lagoon, on Heard Island, were named for him.
Dr Stephenson was the only Australian appointed to the first Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1956–1958) alongside explorers such as Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary. He became the first Australian to reach the South Pole in 1958.
His academic achievements included establishing the Department of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in 1961, where he was Dean, Faculty of Science, from 1977–1980.
Read more about Dr Stephenson in a recent profile published in the Australian Antarctic Magazine (12: 32–33, 2011).