Professor John Dewey FRS

John Dewey has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the process of mountain building. Prior to plate tectonics, no adequate theory of mountain building existed. John has been responsible, above all others, for showing how the intricate patterns of Phanerozoic collision-type mountain belt structure can be explained within the relatively simple plate tectonic framework. His syntheses have most concerned the Caledonian and Appalachian mountain ranges and the Alpine Belt but are of general application.

His contributions have also given important new insight into the evolution of continental margins, the geosyncline concept and the origin and mechanism of emplacement of ophiolites. His analyses are based on extensive geological fieldwork backed up by an unusual breadth and depth of knowledge in the geological sciences. He has significantly contributed to the interpretation of the Phanerozoic continental geological record in terms of the plate tectonic theory. His other current research topics are: the evolution of shear zones; transtension in the brittle field; tsunami deposits; arc–continent collision; and natural hazards.

Professional position

  • Distinguished Professor of Geology, Department of Geology, University of California, Davis
  • Supernumary Fellow, University College, University of Oxford
  • Senior Research Visitor, The Natural History Museum, Department of Life Sciences

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences


Professor John Dewey FRS
Elected 1985