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Fellows Directory

Robert Clayton

Professor Robert Clayton FRS


Elected: 1981


Robert Clayton has made major contributions to isotope geochemistry. He pioneered in the extension of Harold Urey’s oxygen-isotope palaeo–temperature scale to igneous and metamorphic rocks, and has used it to solve geological, atmospheric and oceanographic problems such as the presence of meteoric water in deep aquifers, the provenance of airborne silt, and the isotopic evolution of sea water as recorded in its interaction with sedimentary rocks, oceanic crust and ancient iron formations.

His extensive studies of lunar rocks and meteorites have culminated in the discovery that the solar system is not isotopically homogeneous. A pre-solar component rich in oxygen-16, first detected by Robert (in 1973) in refractory minerals from carbonaceous chondrites, apparently was incorporated in varying amounts in the Earth, Moon and meteorite parent bodies, and can thus serve as a tracer to delimit possible genetic relationships among these bodies.