E.C. Andrews (1870-1948)

"Andrews had immense energy, and almost all his fieldwork, including the Broken Hill project, was carried out on foot."

Ernest Clayton Andrews was Government Geologist of New South Wales between 1920 and 1930, during which time he published two of his most important works, The Geology of the Broken Hill District and The Mineral Industry of New South Wales. Influenced by Edgeworth David while studying for his B.A. at Sydney University, Andrews abandoned school teaching (at Bathurst) in 1898, and after presenting his first paper on the geology of the Bathurst region went to Fiji (unpaid!) to collect data on the coral reefs for Alexander Agassiz of Harvard.

He joined the NSW Department of Mines and Agriculture in 1899, and while undertaking a variety of mapping projects within the state was also able to work on the Barrier Reef and in New Zealand. His publications on glaciation attracted considerable attention. In 1908 Andrews was invited to the USA by G.K. Gilbert, spending time with Gilbert in the Californian Sierras, and later meeting other prominent geologists, including the geomorphologist, W.M. Davis.

This visit had a profound influence on Andrews, and he adopted many of the ideas of Davis and Gilbert in studying the geomorphology of eastern Australia, introducing the concept of a rapid uplift in the late Pliocene ("the Kosciusko Uplift") which remained a piece of fixed dogma for Australian geologists well into the 1980s. Between 1910 and 1920 Andrews also developed some important ideas on erosion and on the relation between geology and botany. Andrews's emphasis on the significance of structural geology in the study of ore bodies was also profoundly stimulating, and he presented a number of papers on such matters, particularly at international meetings.

Andrews had immense energy, and almost all his fieldwork, including the Broken Hill project, was carried out on foot. Even after six solid days in the field there each week he usually tried to cajole his junior staff to join him for "geological picnics" on Sundays! The late Alan Voisey recalled that in Sydney Andrews liked to invite younger members of staff home for a good (but abstemious) dinner, play classical records at maximum volume, and beat them all at table tennis!

Despite such diversions Andrews played a major part in many scientific organisations, including the Royal and Linnean Societies of NSW, ANZAAS, AustIMM, Australian Museum, Australian National Research Council, International Ocanographic Committee, Pacific Science Congress. His international reputation was important in spreading the word about Australian ore deposits and landscapes.