Ref NoLDGSL/1090
TitleSHACKLETON, Robert Millner (1909-2001)
Extent12 boxes and outsize maps
DescriptionPapers of Robert Millner Shackleton FRS, 1913-2004, comprising:

Brief biographical information, including: obituaries, 2001 and 2003; Shackleton's entry in 'Biographical memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society' written by J F Dewey and B E Leake, 2004;

Geological notebooks, 1929-1995, notably series relating to Shackleton's geological fieldwork, 1929-1988, recording his work throughout the world, with particularly good coverage of Shackleton's research in Kenya in the 1940s, Ireland from the late 1940s onwards, Fiji in the 1950s, Scotland and North Wales from the 1950s, and southern and east Africa in the 1960s;

Maps and photographs, 1913-[?1984], including material on the geology of: Moel Hebog, in North Wales for Shackleton's Ph.D, 1930s; Kenya, 1913-1954, mostly maps relating to Shackleton's surveying work for the Geological Survey of Kenya, 1940-1945, but notably including maps of the palaeolothic site at Olorgesailie and the surrounding area, 1942-1947; photographs and maps of Great Britain, mostly Ordnance Survey six inch (12,500) and one inch (1:63,360) maps, annotated by Shackleton, 1922-1956; composite panoramic photographs of Tibet, [?1984];

Correspondence, reports, Parliamentary proceedings and other papers relating to the Tryweryn Dam Consultancy work undertaken by Shackleton for the Liverpool Corporation, advising on the geology of the site of the proposed Llyn Celyn reservoir in Merionthshire, North Wales, 1955-1966;

Field guide to AGI and International Field Institute trip, Summer 1961.
Administrative HistoryRobert Millner Shackleton was born in Purley, Surrey, on 30 December 1909. He was educated at the Quakers' (Society of Friends) Sidcot School in Somerset and the University of Liverpool, graduating B.Sc. Geology with First Class Honours in 1930. He went on to research at Liverpool under P.G.H. Boswell on the geology of the Moel Hebog area of Snowdonia in North Wales (Ph.D. 1934), then won a Beit Fellowship at Imperial College London 1932-1934. In 1935 he was appointed Chief Geologist to Whitehall Exploration Ltd in Fiji but returned to Imperial College as Lecturer in Geology in 1936.

In 1940 Shackleton was appointed a geologist in the Mining and Geological Department of Kenya, as part of the wartime strategic planning programme. He surveyed widely throughout Kenya producing reports for the Geological Survey of Kenya on the areas of Malikisi, North Kavirondo, Nyeri, the Migori Gold Belt, and Nanyuki and Maralal. His studies extended into the geometry of the orogenic belts of East Africa and the volcanism that produced the Rift System. In 1942 the archaeologist Mary Leakey discovered prehistoric human artefacts at Olorgesailie, a lower Palaeolithic (Acheulean) site southwest of Nairobi. In the mid-1940s Mary and L.S.B. Leakey excavated the site and Shackleton collaborated with the investigations, preparing geological maps of the area around the Olorgesailie site and the area between Olorgesailie and Ngong.

Shackleton returned to Imperial College in 1945 and was offered a Professorship there. However, he thought the department too unmanageable and in 1948 returned to Liverpool as the Herdman Professor of Geology. In his time in the Herdman chair, he re-organised the Liverpool geology department and put it at the forefront of geological research in Britain. In 1962, in order to increase his opportunities for research in Africa, Shackleton became Professor of Geology in the University of Leeds and joined the staff of the Research Institute of African Geology (serving as Director from 1965 until retirement). For the year 1970-1971 Shackleton was Royal Society Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Geology at the Haile Selassie University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He formally retired in 1975 but was Research Fellow at the Open University from 1977 until his death and remained very active in field geology.

Shackleton's influence on his profession was profound. His achievements were recognized by the award of the Silver Medal of the Liverpool Geological Society (1957) and the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London (1970), and his election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society (1971). His Royal Society citation recorded that he was: 'Well-known for his contributions to the study of crystalline rocks, more particularly of rock deformation and large scale tectonics. A versatile pioneer in investigation of the Caledonides of Wales and western Ireland, of Rift Valley vulcanicity and Pre-Cambrian tectonics. His papers and discussions have influenced much recent work in these fields in which he has trained many of the younger British workers. Of particular importance have been his work on Tertiary volcanics in Kenya, his understanding of the Pre-Cambrian of eastern and central Africa-and his accounts of Dairadian structures and deposits'.

Shackleton produced some 160 scientific papers and through encouragement of younger colleagues exerted a deep influence on several generations of geologists. He had an extremely wide knowledge of his subject, from the origins of the Earth to the evolution of man. Although his earlier work had focused on the British Isles, he developed a particular interest in the geology of East Africa. Shackleton initiated structural studies across orogenic belts in Tarizania-Zambia-Malawi (in the late 1960s), major studies across the Limpopo Belt and adjacent Archaean greenstone belts of Zimbabwe-Botswana-South Africa (in the 1970s) and projects across the orogenic systems of Egypt, Sudan and Kenya (in the early 1980s). Just prior to his death he was working on a detai led compilation of the Pre-Cambrian geology of East Africa. Shackleton's interests were global, however, and continuing research interests included the Pre-Cambrian geology of Arabia and the tectonics of the central and western Himalayas. At the age of 75 he led a pioneering Royal Society geological traverse across Tibet, in collaboration with the Academica Sinica, Beijing.

Shackleton died on 3 May 2001. He married three times and left five children (two sons and three daughters), including the distinguished geoscientist Professor Sir Nicholas Shackleton (1937-2006).
ProvenanceGift of Penny Shackleton, 2001. Later accession given in March 2017.
ArrangementArranged in the following sections:
Section A Biographical
Section B Notebooks
Section C Maps and photographs
Section D Tryweryn Dam Consultancy
Section E Other material
Access ConditionsAccess is by appointment only. Please contact the Archivist for further information.
Related MaterialOther papers relating to Robert Shackleton, principally his field slips from North Wales, held by the British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham; Shackleton's original drawings and sections from Olorgesailie, Kenya, held in papers of Glynn Ll Isaac, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA.
ArchNoteDescription by Timothy E Powell and Peter Harper, National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath.
CreatorNameSHACKLETON | Robert Millner | 1909-2001 | geologist
DS/UK/960SHACKLETON; Robert Millner (1909-2001); geologist1909-2001
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