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Crook, Keith Alan (1933–2022)

by Mike Rickard

Keith Alan Waterhouse Crook graduated from Sydney University with BSc and MSc and University Medal in 1956, followed by a PhD from the University of New England. He then carried out postdoctoral studies at Melbourne University and at Alberta University, Canada. I first met Keith in Fiji on his way to ANU in 1961 to take up an appointment in the Department of Geology, established in 1959. There for 32 years, he taught sedimentology, stratigraphy and soils, and undertook marine geological research in the Manus Basin. Among his early student supervisions were John Chappell on coral terraces on the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea and Peter Cook on the Gosses Bluff meteorite impact structure.

He supervised many students’ work on the South Coast of NSW and the Tumut Trough, which resulted in the first published cross-section across the Tasman zone in 1979. Keith’s students, on a field excursion, led by Anne Felton, presented Keith with a Victorian Police helmet, which he treasured by wearing it as a field hat ever since. Anne was the first female geology honours student at ANU in 1969 and later became Keith’s life partner and research colleague.

With Chris Powell in 1996, Keith wrote the excursion guide, The Evolution of the Southeastern Part of the Tasman Geosyncline, for the International Geological Congress Excursion. He was a co-author with Professors David Brown and Ken Campbell of the first comprehensive account of Australasian geology: The Geological Evolution of Australia and New Zealand. With Eric Conybeare, he produced a Manual of Sedimentary Structures published by the Bureau of Mineral Resources in 1968.

Keith was active in the Sedimentology Group of the Geological Society of Australia. He was Convener of the 12th International Sedimentological Conference held in Canberra in 1986 and was Chairman 1986–89 of the Executive of the Consortium for Ocean Geoscience of Australasian Universities. He was also a member and Chairman 1980–87 of the International Union of Geosciences Committee on Sedimentology, and was awarded a grant to support Australian membership of the Ocean Drilling Program.

Keith was a founding member of the editorial board of the journal Sedimentary Geology, from 1967, and he served as editor-in-chief from 1987 to 2006. He was awarded the Clarke Medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1983.

The Geology Department was unsuccessful in a 1987 bid to set up a special research centre in marine geoscience. Keith subsequently took early retirement from ANU in 1992 and moved to the University of Hawai‘i as a Program Director of the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory, overseeing research in Hawai‘i waters and throughout the Pacific Ocean.

Keith returned to ANU as a Visiting Fellow in mid-2004, where he continued research on coastal boulder deposits with his wife Anne. He also participated in the Emeritus Faculty’s committee on the East Coast development, revisiting the evidence for Portuguese mapping of the East Coast of Australia 200 years prior to Cook.

Keith was also a published political scientist with a particular interest in science and government, graduating from ANU in 1967 with a BA in political science.

Keith was active with Canberra Quakers. He is survived by his wife, Anne, and three children and a grandchild of his first marriage.

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Citation details

Mike Rickard, 'Crook, Keith Alan (1933–2022)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/crook-keith-alan-32586/text40443, accessed 9 August 2022.

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