Thomas Richard Owen

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Thomas Richard Owen (1918–1990), also known as 'Dick' or 'T.R.' Owen, was a Welsh geologist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the rocks of Wales, ranging from regional stratigraphy and tectonics to geomorphology and marine geology. His research was mainly on the Carboniferous rocks of South Wales. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Geologist Scientist who studies geology

A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes the Earth and other terrestrial planets, as well as the processes that shape them. Geologists usually study geology, although backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biology, and other sciences are also useful. Field work is an important component of geology, although many subdisciplines incorporate laboratory work.

Stratigraphy The study of rock layers and their formation

Stratigraphy is a branch of geology concerned with the study of rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification). It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks. Stratigraphy has two related subfields: lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy.



Born in Aberdare to a mining family, Dick Owen won a scholarship to Merthyr Tydfil Grammar School and graduated with first class honours in geology from Swansea University in 1939. He carried out his postgraduate studies there for the next two years, researching the structure of the Vale of Neath, and was associated with teaching at the university for a further 35 years.

Merthyr Tydfil town in Wales, with a population of about 30,000

Merthyr Tydfil is the main town in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough. The town is administered by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and is situated approximately 23 miles (37 km) north of Cardiff, Wales. The town has a population of 43,820.

Swansea University public research university located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom

Swansea University is a public research university located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom. It was chartered as University College of Swansea in 1920, as the fourth college of the University of Wales. In 1996, it changed its name to the University of Wales Swansea following structural changes within the University of Wales. The title of Swansea University was formally adopted on 1 September 2007 when the University of Wales became a non-membership confederal institution and the former members became universities in their own right.

The Vale of Neath, one of the South Wales Valleys, encompasses the upper reaches of the River Neath in southwest Wales. In addition to the River Neath, it is traversed by the Neath Canal and the A465 dual carriageway.

His association with Swansea was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he served as a meteorological officer in the RAF, rising to the rank of Flight lieutenant. While he was based in the Azores, one of his most memorable experiences was deciding, on meteorological grounds, whether it was suitable for Churchill and Roosevelt to hold their famous meeting in the mid-Atlantic.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Meteorology Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere focusing on weather forecasting

Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after weather observation networks were formed across broad regions. Prior attempts at prediction of weather depended on historical data. It was not until after the elucidation of the laws of physics and more particularly, the development of the computer, allowing for the automated solution of a great many equations that model the weather, in the latter half of the 20th century that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved. An important domain of weather forecasting is marine weather forecasting as it relates to maritime and coastal safety, in which weather effects also include atmospheric interactions with large bodies of water.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

His work on the Vale of Neath was published by the Geological Society in 1954 and was swiftly recognised as a classic. He also wrote and edited a series of papers and books that included Geology Explained in South Wales and The Upper Palaeozoic and Post-Palaeozoic Rocks of Wales. Owen’s almost cartoon-like geological sketches became his hallmark, and illustrated his profound desire for people of all backgrounds and abilities to appreciate the magnificent geology of his native land.

Geological Society of London learned society

The Geological Society of London, known commonly as the Geological Society, is a learned society based in the United Kingdom. It is the oldest national geological society in the world and the largest in Europe with more than 12,000 Fellows.

Waterfall Country is the name given to an area around the head of the Vale of Neath in South Wales where an unusually large number of publicly accessible falls are to be found. The area is loosely defined but generally includes the group of falls on the Nedd Fechan, Pyrddin, Hepste and Mellte rivers, all of which lie in the country between the villages of Pontneddfechan and Ystradfellte in the southern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. All of these falls lie within or on the boundary of the county of Brecknockshire, now part of the unitary authority of Powys. A few miles further west are Henrhyd Falls on the Nant Llech, a tributary of the Tawe and to the southwest are Melin Court Falls on the Melin Court Brook, a tributary of the River Neath. These, along with Aberdulais Falls on the Dulais, a further tributary of the Neath are also encompassed by the term 'Waterfall/s Country' by some writers.

The PaleozoicEra is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from 541 to 251.902 million years ago, and is subdivided into six geologic periods : the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.

Owen chaired the South Wales Group of the Geologists’ Association, and an annual T.R. Owen memorial lecture has been instituted in his memory.

South Wales Geologists Association

The South Wales Geologists' Association (SWGA) is an affiliated local group of the Geologists' Association. It was founded in 1960 and registered as a charity in 1996.


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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  1. "Professor Thomas Richard (Dick) Owen (1918-1990)". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  2. Geology Explained in South Wales. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  3. "Books by Thomas Richard Owen". Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  4. "GEOLOGISTS' ASSOCIATION, SOUTH WALES GROUP" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  5. Geology Explained in South Wales
  6. The Upper Palaeozoic and Post-Palaeozoic Rocks of Wales
  7. The Geological Evolution of the British Isles