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Alastair C Lumsden, BSc MSc

Colleagues will be sorry to hear of the death of Alastair Lumsden, former Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Earth and Environment. He died on 22 July 2019, aged 81. The following obituary has been contributed by Professor Steve Hencher, Emeritus Professor in Engineering Geology.

Alastair was one of the finest engineering geologists of his generation. He graduated from Durham University in 1961, then started out at Wimpey labs before moving to Australia. From 1968 to 1970 he worked as a Senior Hydrogeologist and Resident Engineer for groundwater investigation for the Lar Dam project in Iran. He returned to the UK to teach; first at Trent Polytechnic, then the Open University and subsequently at Leeds University, where he developed the Engineering Geology MSc course, following the tragic death of Alan Gaskin in 1974. He ran the course for 25 years, and under his guidance it flourished to a fantastic extent, soon competing with established courses at Imperial College, Durham and Newcastle for highly prized NERC studentships. He strove to ensure the best possible outcomes for students on the course by ensuring that it always remained highly relevant to the professional practice of Engineering Geology. It is testament to the foundations that Alastair laid that the course remains strong to this day.

Alasdair’s PhD students included the late Stavros Bandis who was awarded the Manual Rocha prize for his work on scale effects of rock joint shear strength. This work resulted in the publication of the classic paper Fundamentals of Rock Joint Deformation by Bandis, Lumsden and Barton which has received over 1700 citations.

Alastair was definitely a no-nonsense fellow with acerbic wit, but a protective arm around his students. The strength of the course and the contacts he could provide into the industry has launched hundreds of successful careers.

Alastair retired from the University in 2000, although he continued to work until he was 80 as the Editorial Manager of Journal of Petrology, assisting his wife Marjorie Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Igneous Petrogenesis at Leeds.

Alastair is survived by his wife, Marjorie, and by the three children of his first marriage, Michael, Karen and Iain.