DOUGLAS MAWSON Biography - Famous Scientists


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Douglas Mawson                                                                         
Born 5 May 1882                                                                         
Bradford, Yorkshire, England                                                           
Died 14 October 1958                                                                   
Education University of Sydney                                                         
Occupation Explorer, Geologist                                                         
Spouse Paquita Delprat                                                                 
Sir Douglas Mawson OBE FRS (5 May 1882 - 14 October 1958) was an Australian             
Antarctic explorer and geologist. With Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and         
Ernest Shackleton, Mawson was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of         
Antarctic Exploration.                                                                 
Douglas Mawson was born in 1882 in Shipley, Yorkshire, England, the second son         
of Robert Ellis Mawson, a cloth merchant from a farming background, and his wife       
Margaret Ann, née Moore, from the Isle of Man. The family immigrated to Rooty         
Hill, New South Wales, Australia in 1884. He was educated at Fort Street High           
School and the University of Sydney, where he gained degrees in mining                 
engineering and science.                                                               
After working as a junior demonstrator in chemistry, he was appointed geologist         
to an expedition to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in 1903; his report The             
geology of the New Hebrides, was one of the first major geological works of             
Melanesia. Also that year he published a geological paper on Mittagong, New             
South Wales. His major influences in his geological career were Professor               
Edgeworth David and Professor Archibald Liversidge. He then became a lecturer in       
petrology and mineralogy at the University of Adelaide in 1905. He identified           
and first described the mineral Davidite, named for Edgeworth David.                   
In 1907, Mawson joined the British Antarctic Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton       
as an expedition geologist. With his mentor and fellow geologist, Edgeworth             
David, he was on the first ascent of Mount Erebus. Later, he was a member of the       
first team to reach the South Magnetic Pole, assuming the leadership of the             
party from David on their perilous return.                                             
Mawson turned down an invitation to join Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova               
Expedition in 1910; Australian geologist Griffith Taylor went instead. Mawson           
chose to lead his own expedition, the Australian Antarctic Expedition, to King         
George V Land and Adelie Land, the sector of the Antarctic continent immediately       
south of Australia, which at the time was almost entirely unexplored. The               
objectives were to carry out geographical exploration and scientific studies,           
including visiting the South Magnetic Pole.                                             
The expedition, using the ship Aurora commanded by Captain John King Davis,             
landed at Cape Denison on Commonwealth Bay on 8 January 1912 and established the       
Main Base. A second camp was located to the west on the ice shelf in Queen Mary         
Land. Cape Denison proved to be unrelentingly windy; the average wind speed for         
the entire year was about 50 mph (80 km/h). They built a hut on the rocky cape         
and wintered through nearly constant blizzards.                                         
On his return, he married Paquita Delprat and was knighted, but the public took         
little interest in his achievements, being completely taken up with the Scott           
disaster and the outbreak of World War I. Mawson served in the war as a Major in       
the British Ministry of Munitions. Returning to Adelaide he pursued his academic       
studies, taking further expeditions abroad, including a joint British,                 
Australian and New Zealand expedition to the Antarctic in 1929–1931. The work         
done by the expedition led to the formation of the Australian Antarctic                 
Territory in 1936. He also spent much of his time researching the geology of the       
northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Upon his retirement from teaching         
in 1952 he was made Emeritus Professor. He died at his Brighton home on 14             
October 1958 from cerebral haemorrhage.[2] He was 76 years old.                         
His image appeared from 1984-1996 on the Australian paper one hundred dollar           
note. Also, Mawson Peak (Heard Island), Mawson Station (Antarctica), Dorsa             
Mawson (Mare Fecunditatis), the geology building on the main University of             
Adelaide campus, suburbs in Canberra and Adelaide, a South Australian TAFE             
institute, and the main street of Meadows, South Australia are named after him         
and the Mawson Collection of Antarctic exploration artefacts is on permanent           
display at the South Australian Museum.