Professor John Tarney

Posted by lcb14 at Apr 09, 2018 11:15 AM |
The School is saddened to hear of the passing of Emeritus Professor John Tarney on Saturday 31 March.
Professor John Tarney

Professor John Tarney

Professor Tarney joined the Department of Geology in 1980, he served on numerous committees and was Head of Department for 2 terms before retiring in 1999.

The funeral will be at:
The Heart of England Crematorium, Eastboro Way, Nuneaton CV11
at 12:30pm on Tuesday 24th April 2018.

There will be a buffet afterwards at Badgers Mount in Elmesthorpe. The undertakers are Devall & Son.


Professor Emeritus John Tarney (‘JT’), petrologist, geochemist and family man, passed away on 31st March 2018, shortly after his 81st birthday.

John was appointed to the F.W. Bennett Chair in the Department of Geology in 1980, a post he held until his partial retirement in 1999. He followed the first Bennett Professor, Peter Sylvester Bradley, who was faced in the 1960’s with the challenge of building a new department from scratch at a time when the young university needed to expand its science faculty rapidly.  New geology courses and research fields were introduced with young staff and their development was continued with vigor by John whose expertise nicely complemented those of his predecessor.

A northern lad, John went to Cockermouth Grammar School before reading geology at Durham University (King’s College).  He subsequently gained a PhD (again at Durham) in 1961, before moving south to Birmingham where he held a NERC Research Fellowship followed, in 1964, by a lectureship. During his tenure at Leicester he was Head of Department (twice: 1980 to 1983, and in 1985) and was a well-known and popular figure around campus from the numerous committees and boards he attended; he was also Warden of Villiers Hall between 1983 and 1985. He sat on a plethora of external committees and working groups, including NERC and the Royal Society, and played an important role in the establishment of the UK involvement in the International Ocean Drilling Program.

John’s PhD research concerned the geochemistry of some of the oldest rocks in the UK in NW Scotland, an interest that persisted throughout much of his career. He was particularly keen in applying the technique of X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to the analysis of rocks, which led to the geology departments in Birmingham and subsequently Leicester becoming centres of excellence in this methodology. Through the application of XRF to a wide range of rock types – igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary – and by liaising closely with isotope geochemists in the UK and overseas, JT revolutionized the science of analytical ‘hard-rock’ geochemistry.  This led to the publication of well over 100 journal articles and books, the training of over 20 postgraduate students, many postdocs, the organization of some 20 plus meetings and conferences, and the award of the Murchison Fund of the Geological Society in 1979.

Like many geologists, John enjoyed travel, undertaking fieldwork in Scotland, Greenland, Norway, China, Colombia, several Caribbean islands, Brazil, USA, Kenya, New Zealand, India, Greece and Canada – to name but a few. He was a shipboard scientist on DSDP Leg 36 in 1974 in the Scotia Sea – the Furious Fifties - infamous for its treacherous weather and icebergs; and again, like many geologists, he would frequently regale us with his adventures on land and at sea.

John, very much a family man, will be missed by his wife, Mary, and their three children (Clare, Michael and Paul), six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies.

Andy Saunders
23rd April 2018


Filed under:

Share this page: