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dave rex

David Charles Rex

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 10 January 2021, of Dave Rex, at Bromyard Community Hospital, Herefordshire, aged 84 years. The following tribute has been contributed by friend and colleague, Dr Bob Cliff.

Dave joined the Department of Earth Sciences (now School of Earth and Environment) as an Experimental Officer in 1967, joining Martin Dodson in the recently established Geochronology Laboratory to add potassium-argon facilities to the array of dating techniques based on the decay of radioactive isotopes. He graduated with an MSc in geology from the University of Leicester and became involved in geochronology when he joined the Geological Age and Isotope Group in the Department of Geology in the University of Oxford.

From the mid-seventies he oversaw the operation of the related 40Ar-39Ar dating method and was a key participant in several fundamental studies of factors that influence the reliability of ages measured by these methods. He went on to develop the facility into one that was in demand from around the world until his retirement in 1996. Over this time his friendly but absolutely meticulous approach introduced many postgraduate students and academic visitors to the extreme care required in preparation of pure mineral separates and the analysis of the tiny amounts of the noble gas argon they contain. He was very generous with his time and patience supervising research students in the laboratory and in the interpretation and writing up of their results. They also recall a wicked sense of humour and the pranks that led to. His upbringing on a farm led to great practical abilities and in the laboratory or on expeditions if something needed fixing Dave was your man. The geographical spread of his work encompassed all the continents including the Arctic and Antarctica with particular focus on the Himalayan region, Africa and Greenland. As well as receiving samples from collaborators he was an enthusiastic participant in expeditions to Greenland, the Karakoram, Chile and the Kola Peninsula; his long association with Greenland is reflected in his membership of the Arctic Club. He published over 100 papers, 40 of them with over 50 citations and accumulated a total of more than 5000 citations overall.

On retirement Dave moved back to his native Herefordshire where he continued his enjoyment of the outdoor life with many walking trips both with local walking groups at home and in Europe, the challenging Circuit of Mont Blanc being a notable example. Dave was a superb gardener, creating beautiful gardens at his homes in Yorkshire and again when he returned to Herefordshire. He was also an excellent cook, making exceptionally good Pakistani curries. He maintained his lifelong love of music, particularly opera, and was a keen bridge player.

Dave is survived by his wife, Vivienne, who was also a member of staff in the Department of Earth Sciences.