November 16, 2011

Orbituary Charles Strachan Hutchison (1933-2011)

Charles Strachan Hutchison

B.Sc., Ph.D., F.I.M.M., F.G.S.
(17 April 1933 – 18 October 2011)

Charles Hutchison was born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom, on 17 April 1933. He graduated with First Class Honours in geology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1955. After a short stint as a geologist with Apex (Trinidad) Oilfields in the West Indies from 1955 to 1957, he set sail on the S.S. Reina del Mar and the S.S. Canton to take up the offer of an assistant lectureships as one of the first staff in the new Geology Department at the University of Malaya in Singapore. He worked on his Ph.D. while lecturing at the university and graduated in 1966 with a thesis titled “Tectonic and petrological relations within three orogenic zones in Malaysia”.

He lectured in Singapore from 1957 until 1960, when he moved to Kuala Lumpur and was instrumental in setting up the Geology Department at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. He continued to lecture at the University of Malaya as Associate Professor till 1977 before he was promoted to Professor of Applied Geology, a post he held from 1977 to 1987 and 1989 to 1992. He also served as the Head of the Geology Department from 1978 to 1982. Although very active and productive in research, he took a keen interest in teaching and mentoring students, encouraging their best. Many kept in touch with him and returned to visit him at the university after graduation.

Hutchison was appointed Professor Emeritus in Geology in August 2004 and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Geology, University of Malaya from 4 May 2009 until his death on 18 October 2011. Besides his research and teaching at the University of Malaya, he also taught courses on the Geology and Tectonics of Southeast Asia as visiting professor to MSc in Petroleum Geoscience students at University of Brunei Darussalam and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

He has also served as overall Co-coordinator of the SEATAR (Studies in East Asian Tectonics and Resources) Transects of C.C.O.P (Committee for Co-ordination of Joint Prospecting for Mineral Resources in Asian Offshore Areas) from 1988 to 1991. He was the Director of the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute (ESRI) of the University of South Carolina responsible for developing training programmes throughout the wider Southeast Asian region.

Prof. Hutchison was an elected fellow of several learned societies, including the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy of London, Mineralogical Society of America, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Geological Society of London. He was a founding member of the Geological Society of Malaysia in the 1960s and served as its President during 1969-1970. The Geological Society of Malaysia awarded him Honorary Membership in 1986 for distinguished services to the geoscience community and for the promotion of interest in the geosciences in Malaysia. He was also awarded the Special Commendation Award of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 1994 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to geological research, regional synthesis, tectonic analysis and understanding of the hydrocarbon and mineral deposits of Southeast Asia.

Charles was a prolific writer and authored five books on geology: Laboratory handbook of petrographic techniques (1974), Economic deposits and their tectonic setting (1983), Geological Evolution of Southeast Asia (1989,1996, 2005), South-East Asian oil, gas, coal and mineral deposits (1996), and Geology of North-West Borneo: Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah (2005) in addition to more than a hundred scholarly papers in refereed journals. He has also written chapters for and edited eight books, including the Geology of the Malay Peninsular Malaysia (1973), co-edited with D.J. Gobbett, and the Geology of Peninsular Malaysia (2009) published jointly by the University of Malaya and Geological Society of Malaysia.

Professor Hutchison was a consultant to the Malaysian Government and led the Malaysian Continental Shelf Committee. He conducted short training courses and consulted for many oil and mining companies. He worked extensively with international geologists on many joint projects. Indeed Charles Hutchison earned the title of “the Grand Old Man of Southeast Asian Geology,” for he has left his imprint on all who have worked with him or came after him in doing research on the geology of this region. To Late Professor Charles Strachan Hutchinson- Farewell Sir!

-Dr. Lee Chai Peng

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