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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Yaoling Niu

Niu, Yaoling & Wilson, M. (2011). Magma generation and evolution and global tectonics: An issue in honour of Peter J. Wyllie for his life-long contributions by means of experimental petrology to understanding how the Earth works: Foreword. Journal of Petrology, 52 (7-8): Oxford University Press.

Author(s) from Durham


Peter J. Wyllie (Pete) was born in London on 8 February 1930. At the age of 11, he attended Hampton Grammar School, an independent school for boys that has 450 years of history, located in Greater London. In 1949 his love of boxing, first evident at the age of 10, led to him becoming heavyweight champion of RAF Scotland. Otherwise, he was a quiet, warm and happy London boy, a character that has remained in his adult life—warm, kind and generous as both man and scientist. In 1948, Peter sat for the very competitive Gonville & Caius Scholarship Exam at Cambridge University and was awarded an Exhibition worth £40 towards his further education. However, his headmaster suggested that he should try for an Open Scholarship at St. Andrews in Scotland, where he won a Harkness Residential Scholarship worth £100 per year. He first completed his National Service in the Royal Air Force as a Radiotelephony Operator (Aircraftman First Class) (1948–1949) before starting his undergraduate study in Physics and Geology at St. Andrews. In the summer of 1950, towards the end of his first university year, Peter was invited by Harald Drever to join the British West Greenland Expedition (a small university team of only six members, including W. S. Mackenzie) as an assistant glaciologist. After doing glaciology and geology halfway up the west coast of Greenland, Peter became a confirmed geologist, graduating with a BSc in Geology and Physics in 1952. With this experience, he was accepted as Assistant Geologist for the British North Greenland Expedition, a large national team (with 25 members), to explore NE Greenland and its ice sheet from 1952 to 1954. In 1954 he received the Polar Medal from Queen Elizabeth. He obtained his BSc with First Class Honours in Geology in 1955. The 2 …