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Fellows Directory

Stephen Moorbath

Stephen Moorbath

Professor Stephen Moorbath FRS


Elected: 1977


Stephen Moorbath was a leading British geochronologist. He set up (1956–58) and has directed the Geological Age and Isotope Research Laboratory in Oxford. He and his collaborators demonstrated the great gap between Scourian (2,600 million years old) and Laxfordian (1,600 million years old) gnesisses in northwest Scotland. He established the basic mineral age pattern of the Scottish and Irish Caledonides (420–450 million years old) and interpreted it as a cooling-uplift interval. He also pioneered lead isotope studies of ancient gneisses, showing that much of the Lewisian existed over 2,900 million years ago. Stephen dated the oldest rocks yet known on the Earth (more than 3,800 million years old) from west Greenland, and applied the rubidium–strontium method to date Torridonian sediments. In addition, he elucidated the complex history of British and Scandinavian lead ores, and showed that the Tertiary acid magmas of Skye are re-melted Lewisian gneisses (more than 3,000 million years old) whereas those of Iceland are of mantle origin.

Professor Stephen Moorbath FRS died on 16 October 2016.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geology, Geochemistry
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Planetary science (Astronomy and Physics)


  • Rutherford Memorial Lecture

    Given in Zimbabwe.

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