Dr George Williams

Dr George Williams
 Position Visiting Research Fellow
 Org Unit School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
 Email george.williams@adelaide.edu.au
 Telephone +61 8 8313 5843
 Location Floor/Room Ground Floor ,  Mawson ,   North Terrace
  • Qualifications

    George E. Williams BSc MSc (Melb) PhD DSc (Reading), FAA FGSAm DFGSAust


    1963: The Geology and Structure of the Kinglake District, Central Victoria. MSc thesis, Department of Geology, University of Melbourne, 170 pp.

    1966: The Precambrian Torridonian Sediments of the Cape Wrath District, Northwest Scotland. PhD thesis, Sedimentology Research Laboratory, University of Reading, 324 pp. 

  • Awards & Achievements

    1958, 1959, 1960:  First Class Honours and Exhibitions in Geology I, Geology II and Geology IIi, University of Melbourne.


    1961:  Howitt Natural History Research Scholarship, University of Melbourne.


    1961-1963:  University of Melbourne Post-graduate Research Scholarship for MSc research.


    1963-1966:  1851 Exhibition Overseas Scholarship for PhD research at the Sedimentology Research Laboratory, University of Reading. 


    1967:  Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, Department of Geology, University of Adelaide.


    1968-1970:  Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellowship, Department of Geology, University of Adelaide.


    1979:  Elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.


    1988:  The International Astronomical Union gave the name 'Geowilliams' to Asteroid 1984 UL2 in recognition of my discovery of the 90 km diameter Acraman asteroid impact structure in South Australia.


    1991:  Awarded the Royal Society of Victoria Research Medal for research in the Earth sciences in Australia during the previous six years.


    1994-1998 and 1999-2003:  ARC Australian Senior and Professorial Research Fellowships, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Adelaide.


    1997:  Elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of Australia.


    1998:  Received the degree of DSc from the University of Reading for published contributions to the Earth sciences.


    2011:  Elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

  • Research Interests

    Research involves sedimentology, palaeomagnetism (with Dr Phil Schmidt, formerly CSIRO), palaeoclimatology and meteoritics. Current research interests are the palaeogeography and palaeomagnetism of Proterozoic glacial deposits and red beds; the climate system on the Precambrian Earth; Earth's palaeorotation; the geology and geophysics of the Acraman asteroid impact structure, South Australia; Torridonian (early Neoproterozoic) palaeogeography and basin analysis, NW Scotland; origin of early Palaeoproterozoic iron-formation, Western Australia; palaeomagnetic dating of Cenozoic ferruginous weathering in Western Australia.

  • Publications


    * = link to a pdf file at end of entry.


    Williams, G.E. 2023. Strong tides during Cryogenian glaciations: tidal rhythmites from early and late Cryogenian glacial successions and interglacial beds, South Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 70(6), 751-762. https://doi.org/10.1080/08120099.2023
    Young, G.M. & Williams, G.E. 2021. Proterozoic Climates. In: Encyclopedia of Geology (second edition), edited by Scott Elias & David Alderton, Elsevier, Amsterdam, vol. 5, pp. 557-570. (Sadly, Professor Grant Young passed away in August 2020 just three months after we had completed this chapter.)
    Williams, G., Schmidt, P. & Young, G. 2019. A different angle on Earth's climate history. Australasian Science, 40(4), 12-15.
    Williams G.E. & Gostin, V.A. 2019. Late Cryogenian glaciation in South Australia: Fluctuating ice margin and no extreme or rapid post-glacial sea-level rise. Geoscience Frontiers, 10, 1397-1408 (open access, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gsf.2019.02.002). 
    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2018. Shuram-Wonoka carbon isotope excursion: Ediacaran revolution in the world ocean's meridional overturning circulation. Geoscience Frontiers, 9, 391-402 (open access, https://bit.ly/2GYIHLf).
    Williams, G.E., Schmidt, P.W. & Young, G.M. 2016. Strongly seasonal Proterozoic glacial climate in low palaeolatitudes: Radically different climate system on the pre-Ediacaran Earth. Geoscience Frontiers, 7, 555-571 (open access, https://bit.ly/2LqRlYp).
    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2015. Low paleolatitude for the late Cryogenian interglacial succession, South Australia: paleomagnetism of the Angepena Formation, Adelaide Geosyncline. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 62, 243-253.
    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2013. Anisotropy of thermoremanent magnetisation of Cryogenian glaciogenic and Ediacaran red beds, South Australia: Neoproterozoic apparent or true polar wander?. In: Magnetic Iron Minerals in Sediments and their Relation to Geologic Processes, Climate, and the Geomagnetic Field, edited by Ramon Egli, Fabio Florindo & Andrew Roberts. Global and Planetary Change, 110, 289-301.  
    Eriksson, P.G., Banerjee, S., Catuneanu, O., Corcoran, P.L., Eriksson, K.A., Hiatt, E.E., Laflamme, M., Lenhardt, N., Long, D.G.F., Miall, A.D., Mints, M.V., Pufahl, P.K., Sarkar, S., Simpson, E.L. & Williams, G.E. 2013. Secular changes in sedimentation systems and sequence stratigraphy. In: Secular Changes in Geologic and Tectonic Processes, edited by Tim Kusky, Robert Stern & John Dewey. Gondwana Research, 24, 468-489.
    Thomas, M., Clarke, J.D.A., Gostin, V.A., Williams, G.E. & Walter, M.R. 2012. The Flinders Ranges and surrounds, South Australia: a window on astrobiology and planetary geology. Episodes, 35 (1), 226-235.
    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2011. Paleomagnetism of the Pandurra Formation and Blue Range Beds, Gawler Craton, South Australia, and the Australian Mesoproterozoic apparent polar wander path. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 58, 347-360.
    Williams, G.E., Gostin, V.A., McKirdy, D.M., Preiss, W.V. & Schmidt, P.W. 2011. The Elatina glaciation (late Cryogenian), South Australia. In: The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Geological Society of London Memoir, 36, 713-721.
    Preiss, W.V., Gostin, V.A., McKirdy, D.M., Ashley, P.M., Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2011. The glacial succession of Sturtian age in South Australia: the Yudnamutana Subgroup. In: The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Geological Society of London Memoir, 36, 701-712. 
    Gostin, V.A., McKirdy, D.M., Webster, L.J. & Williams, G.E. 2011. Mid-Ediacaran ice-rafting in the Adelaide Geosyncline and Officer Basin, South Australia. In: The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Geological Society of London Memoir, 36, 673-676. 
    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2010. Ediacaran palaeomagnetism and apparent polar wander path for Australia: no large true polar wander. Geophysical Journal International, 182, 711-726. 
    Gostin, V.A., McKirdy, D.M., Webster, L.J. & Williams, G.E. 2010. Ediacaran ice-rafting and coeval asteroid impact, South Australia: Insights into the terminal Proterozoic environment. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 57, 859-869.
    Schmidt, P.W., Williams, G.E. & McWilliams, M.O. 2009. Palaeomagnetism and magnetic anisotropy of late Neoproterozoic strata, South Australia: Implications for the palaeolatitude of late Cryogenian glaciation, cap carbonate and the Ediacaran System. Precambrian Research, 174, 35-52.
    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2008. Palaeomagnetism of red beds from the Kimberley Group, Western Australia: implications for the palaeogeography of the 1.8 Ga King Leopold glaciation. Precambrian Research, 167, 267-280.
    Williams, G.E., Gostin, V.A., McKirdy, D.M. & Preiss, W.V. 2008. The Elatina glaciation, late Cryogenian (Marinoan Epoch), South Australia: sedimentary facies and palaeoenvironments. Precambrian Research, 163, 307-331.

    Williams, G.E. 2008. Proterozoic (pre-Ediacaran) glaciation and the high obliquity, low-latitude ice, strong seasonality (HOLIST) hypothesis: principles and tests. Earth-Science Reviews, 87, 61-93.

    *Williams, G.E. 2005. Subglacial meltwater channels and glaciofluvial deposits in the Kimberley Basin, Western Australia: 1.8 Ga low-latitude glaciation coeval with continental assembly. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 162, 111-124.

    Williams, G. 2004. Late Palaeoproterozoic glaciation in the Kimberley region, WA. TAG (The Australian Geologist), 133, 15-17.

    *Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2004. Neoproterozoic glaciation: reconciling low paleolatitudes and the geologic record. In: The Extreme Proterozoic: Geology, Geochemistry and Climate. American Geophysical Union, Geophysical Monograph, 146, 145-159.

    Williams, G.E. 2004. The paradox of Proterozoic glaciomarine deposition, open seas and strong seasonality near the palaeoequator: global implications. In: Eriksson, P.G. et al. (Editors), The Precambrian Earth: Tempos and Events. Developments in Precambrian Geology, 12, pp. 448–459. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

    Williams, G. & Schmidt, P. 2000. Proterozoic equatorial glaciation: Has ‘snowball Earth’ a snowball’s chance?. TAG (The Australian Geologist), 117, 21–25.

    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 1999. Paleomagnetism of the Paleoproterozoic hematitic breccia and paleosol at Ville-Marie, Québec: further evidence for the low paleolatitude of Huronian glaciation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 172, 273–285.

    Williams, G.E. 1998. Late Neoproterozoic periglacial aeolian sand sheet, Stuart Shelf, South Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 45, 733–741.

    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 1997. Paleomagnetism of the Paleoproterozoic Gowganda and Lorrain formations, Ontario: low paleolatitude for Huronian glaciation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 153, 157-169.

    Williams, G.E. 1996. Soft-sediment deformation structures from the Marinoan glacial succession, Adelaide foldbelt: implications for the palaeolatitude of late Neoproterozoic glaciation. Sedimentary Geology, 106, 165–176.

    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 1995. The Neoproterozoic climatic paradox: Equatorial palaeolatitude for Marinoan glaciation near sea level in South Australia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 134, 107-124.


    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E., 2024. Paleomagnetism of the Acraman-Bunyeroo meteorite impact ejecta zone in the South Flinders Ranges region, South Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 71, 319-324.

    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2021. Dating the Acraman asteroid impact, South Australia: the case for deep drilling the 'hot shock' zone of the central uplift. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 68 (3), 355-367.

    Williams, G. & Schmidt, P. 2015. Age of the Acraman impact - the case for drilling. TAG (The Australian Geologist), 174, 37-39.

    Williams, G.E., Gostin, V.A. & Prescott, J.R. 2013. Stratigraphy and optical dating of Pleistocene coastal deposits in the Port Campbell australite strewn field, SW Victoria. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 60, 463-474.

    Williams, G.E. & Gostin, V.A. 2010. Geomorphology of the Acraman impact structure, Gawler Ranges, South Australia. Cadernos Laboratorio Xeoloxico de Laxe, 35, 209-220.

    Williams, G.E. & Gostin, V.A. 2005. Acraman-Bunyeroo impact event (Ediacaran), South Australia, and environmental consequences: twenty-five years on. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 52, 607-620.

    *Williams, G.E. & Wallace, M.W. 2003. The Acraman asteroid impact, South Australia: magnitude and implications for the late Vendian environment. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 160, 545-554.

    Williams, G.E., Schmidt, P.W. & Boyd, D.M. 1996. Magnetic signature and morphology of the Acraman impact structure, South Australia. AGSO Journal of Australian Geology and Geophysics, 16, 431–442.

    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 1996. Palaeomagnetism of the ejecta-bearing Bunyeroo Formation, late Neoproterozoic, Adelaide foldbelt, and the age of the Acraman impact. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 144, 347-358.


    Williams, G.E. 2015. Hydrothermal alteration of Britain's oldest palaeosols: saddle dolomite and smectite at the Lewisian-Torridon Group (early Neoproterozoic) unconformity, NW Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology, 51, 63-68.

    Williams, G.E. & Foden, J., 2012. Reply: A unifying model for the Torridon Group (early Neoproterozoic), NW Scotland: product of post-Grenvillian extensional collapse. Earth-Science Reviews, 111, 86-89.

    Williams, G.E. & Foden, J. 2011. A unifying model for the Torridon Group (early Neoproterozoic), NW Scotland: product of post-Grenvillian extensional collapse. Earth-Science Reviews, 108, 34-49.

    Williams, G.E. 2001. Neoproterozoic (Torridonian) alluvial fan succession, northwest Scotland, and its tectonic setting and provenance. Geological Magazine, 138, 471-494.

    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 1997. Palaeomagnetic dating of sub-Torridon Group weathering profiles, NW Scotland: verification of Neoproterozoic palaeosols. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 154, 987-997.


    Williams, G.E., Jenkins, R.J.F. & Walter, M.R. 2007. No heliotropism in Neoproterozoic columnar stromatolite growth, Amadeus Basin, central Australia: geophysical implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 249, 80-89.

    Williams, G.E. 2004. Earth’s Precambrian rotation and the evolving lunar orbit: implications of tidal rhythmite data for palaeogeophysics. In: Eriksson, P.G. et al. (Editors), The Precambrian Earth: Tempos and Events. Developments in Precambrian Geology, 12, pp. 473–482. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

    Williams, G.E. 2000. Geological constraints on the Precambrian history of Earth's rotation and the Moon's orbit. Reviews of Geophysics, 38, 37-59.

    *Williams, G.E. 1998. Precambrian tidal and glacial clastic deposits: implications for Precambrian Earth-Moon dynamics and palaeoclimate. Sedimentary Geology, 120, 55-74.

    Williams, G.E. 1997. Precambrian length of day and the validity of tidal rhythmite paleotidal values. Geophysical Research Letters, 24, 421–424.


    Williams, G.E. 2023. Cyclic tidalites and seismites at a submarine hydrothermal system for a 2450 Ma banded iron formation, Hamersley Basin, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 70, 323-331.

    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2004. Paleomagnetism of the 1.88-Ga Sokoman Formation in the Schefferville-Knob Lake area, Quebec, Canada, and implications for the genesis of iron oxide deposits in the central New Quebec Orogen. Precambrian Research, 128, 167-188.

    Williams, G.E., Schmidt, P.W. & Clark, D.A. 2004. Palaeomagnetism of iron-formation from the late Palaeoproterozoic Frere Formation, Earaheedy Basin, Western Australia: palaeogeographic and tectonic implications. Precambrian Research, 128, 367-383.

    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2003. Reversal asymmetry in Mesoproterozoic overprinting of the 1.88-Ga Gunflint Formation, Ontario, Canada: non-dipole effects or apparent polar wander? Tectonophysics, 377, 7-32.


    Schmidt, P.W., Williams, G.E., Camacho, A. & Lee, J.K.W. 2006. Assembly of Proterozoic Australia: implications of a revised pole for the ~1070 Ma Alcurra Dyke Swarm, central Australia. Geophysical Journal International, 167, 626-634. 


    Williams, G.E. & Gostin, V.A. 2000. Mantle plume uplift in the sedimentary record: origin of kilometre-deep canyons within late Neoproterozoic successions, South Australia. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 157, 759-768.




    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 2003. Possible fossil impression in sandstone from the late Palaeoproterozoic–early Mesoproterozoic Semri Group (lower Vindhyan Supergroup), central India. Alcheringa, 27, 75–76.

    Williams, G.E. & Schmidt, P.W. 1996. Origin and palaeomagnetism of the Mesoproterozoic Gangau tilloid (basal Vindhyan Supergroup), central India. Precambrian Research, 79, 307-325.


    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2017. Paleomagnetic age of ferruginous weathering beneath the Hamersley Surface, Western Australia, and the Cenozoic apparent polar wander path. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 64, 239-249.

    Schmidt, P.W. & Williams, G.E. 2002. Palaeomagnetic dating of the Hamersley Surface and deep weathering in the Pilbara-northern Yilgarn region, WA. 16th Australian Geological Convention, July 2002. Geological Society of Australia Abstracts, 67, 431.


    Comment by G.E. Williams on ‘Anatomy, emplacement and evolution of a shallow-level, post-tectonic laccolith: the Mt Disappointment pluton, SE Australia’  (J.D. Clemens & K. Benn, Journal of the Geological Society of London, vol. 167, p. 915–941).


    The study by Clemens & Benn (2010) of the Late Devonian Mt Disappointment pluton in the Melbourne Zone of central Victoria provides much detailed information on the petrology and geochemistry of the pluton and a model for its emplacement. However, several of their claims require comment.

    Certain major features of the Mt Disappointment pluton have long been recognised. In 1961–62 I mapped the pluton and the surrounding Late Silurian–Early Devonian marine deposits, identifying the non-megacrystic outer unit of the pluton, the megacrystic inner unit with locally flow-aligned K-feldspar megacrysts, and the pluton’s fault-bounded SE margin, and investigated the petrography and major-element geochemistry of both units (Williams 1963, 1964). That work is the basis for the maps of the pluton shown by Clemens & Benn (2010).

    Clemens & Benn (2010) suggested that any differentiation processes within the magma were relatively restricted, stating (p. 924) that ‘there appear to be no aplites or pegmatites present in the pluton’. In fact, narrow dykes of aplite and pegmatite are present in both units and are numerous at Nimmo Falls near the eastern margin of the pluton. They consist mostly of quartz and K-feldspar commonly with granophyric texture, as well as oligoclase, albite and muscovite, with rare biotite, tourmaline and zircon. Apophyses extend from the pluton in the SW but were difficult to map accurately because of the dense forest cover.

    Enclaves are rare in the non-megacrystic unit but fairly common in the megacrystic unit. Typically they show microgranular texture and comprise mostly biotite, oligoclase, quartz and K-feldspar; a rare variety contains abundant green hornblende. Rounded zircons were separated from two enclaves from the megacrystic unit, suggesting that many of the enclaves originated as sedimentary rocks.

    Clemens & Benn (2010, p. 918) are incorrect in stating that more than 50 m from the contact with the pluton ‘the effects of contact metamorphism are no longer apparent in outcrop.’ Argillaceous rocks of the Melbourne Formation and Humevale Siltstone around the pluton (VandenBerg et al. 2000) commonly display small (0.5 mm) spots up to 1 km from the contact, and such effects of contact metamorphism are evident more than 2 km from the arcuate NE margin of the pluton (Williams 1964). The latter observation implies a very gently dipping pluton–country rock contact in that area, which is consistent with the shallow dip angles of the NE contact deduced by Clemens & Benn (2010).

    The axial-surface traces of some folds may have been slightly affected during emplacement of the pluton, as suggested by Clemens & Benn (2010). However, the arcuate traces of folds adjacent to the pluton are part of a regional arcuate fold pattern spanning the width of the Melbourne Zone (Williams 1963, 1964; VandenBerg et al. 2000). 




    Clemens, J.D. & Benn, K. 2010. Anatomy, emplacement and evolution of a shallow-level, post-tectonic laccolith: the Mt Disappointment pluton, SE Australia. Journal of the Geological Society, London167, 915–941.


    VandenBerg, A.H.M. et al. 2000. The Tasman Fold Belt System in Victoria. Geological Survey of Victoria Special Publication.


    Williams, G.E. 1963. The Geology and Structure of the Kinglake District, Central Victoria. MSc thesis, University of Melbourne.


    Williams, G.E. 1964. The geology of the Kinglake district, central Victoria. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria77, 273–327.

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Entry last updated: Saturday, 30 Mar 2024

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