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Brian Skinner 
Papers and specimens of mineral ores

MSS 0249

Biographical note

Brian Skinner was born in Wallaroo, South Australia, on December 15, 1928. He grew up in the wine-growing regions of the Clare Valley and Angaston, where the family moved from town to town due to his father’s work as bank manager. From the age of 14 he attended Prince Alfred College in Adelaide

In 1950 Skinner was awarded a Bachelor degree in Geology and Chemistry with a minor in Physics from the University of Adelaide, where he was mentored by Sir Douglas Mawson. He then worked briefly for the Aberfoyle Tin Mine in Tasmania, before going on to earn a PhD in Geology in 1955 from Harvard University. He then returned to Adelaide as a lecturer from 1955 to 1958.

In 1958 Skinner was appointed as research geologist at the US Geological Survey in Washington. By 1961 he was appointed chief of the Branch of Experimental Geochemistry and Mineralogy where he was involved in planning the geological investigations of the impending moon missions. In 1969 he was one of the first to study rock samples brought back from the moon.

In 1966 he was recruited by Yale University to head the Dept of Geology and Geophysics, and was then installed as the Eugene Higgins Professor of Geology and Geophysics in 1972. Skinner was an expert on the crystallography and geochemistry of metallic ores, and consulted to all the world’s major mining companies.

He authored many books, including Blue Planet which popularised the study of geology and discussed issues of resource management and sustainability, and The Dynamic Earth on plate tectonics.

He was a popular and admired teacher, his introductory class to geology being filmed as part of the Great Teachers series. Skinner received many awards and honours for his research from professional societies, as well as honorary doctoral degrees from the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Toronto.

These papers were transferred from the Dept of Geology in February 2018.

Box / folder list - 40cm

X-ray films of Sphalerite. 1 box

Samples for X-ray studies of Sphalerite, etc. ca 1957. 1 box

  • Includes numbered mineral samples, photographs (not annotated), ms notes and ms list of minerals

Sphalerite cell size measurements. 1 folder

  • Sample data forms for X-ray photos

Minium, Stolzite / Raspite data. 1 box
(In 1958 Skinner and Maude McBriar studied the lead tungsten minerals of respite and stolzite from Broken Hill, NSW)

  • X-ray films
  • Raspite: Weisenberg and single crystal photos
  • Correspondence 1958-64 between Maude McBriar, Brian Skinner and Joint Committee on the Chemical Analysis by Powder Diffraction Methods and others; typescript on Lead Tungstate Minerals – Raspite and Stolzite
  • Ms index to X-ray powder photos
  • Original sample forms, ms calculations and notes (including Wulfenite)
  • Reprint: Minium from Broken Hill, New South Wales” / Brian J. Skinner and E. Maude McBriar, Mineralogical Magazine, 1958, with associated correspondence, typescript draft, ms calculations and sample forms

TD-TN solid solution. 1 folder

  • Sample data forms for X-ray photos


  • Effect of FeS on the Unit Cell Edge of Sphalerite: a revision / Brian J. Skinner, Paul B. Barton Jr and Gunnar Kullerud. Economic Geology v. 54 (1959)
  • Unit-Cell Edges of Natural and Synthetic Sphalerites / Brian J. Skinner. The American Mineralogist, v. 46 (1961)


Cheryl Hoskin
September 2020

University Library

Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


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