One of the most influential geoscientists of his generation has died.
Trevor Elliott was born in Lancashire on 26 August 1949 and educated at Derby School. After graduating in geology from the University College of Swansea (now Swansea University) in 1970, he secured a scholarship for a DPhil at New College, Oxford. This was followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Leiden, Netherlands (1974-75) and the University of Reading (1975-78), before he returned to Swansea as lecturer in geology (sedimentology) from 1978 to 1983.
By this stage in his career, Professor Elliott was already a well- established figure within his discipline, not least as part of the British Sedimentological Research Group, led by Reading’s Perce Allen and Oxford’s Harold Reading, which proved crucial in the discovery of North Sea oil. His 1974 paper on “Inter-distributary bay sequences and their genesis” proved highly influential and he also wrote the chapters on deltas and shorelines in Dr Reading’s standard collection, Sedimentary Environments and Facies (1978).
All this led, in 1984, to Professor Elliott attaining the position of George Herdman professor of geology at the University of Liverpool, where he remained for more than two decades, overseeing the department at a time when geology was under great pressure within British universities. He also served as a visiting professor at Iowa State University (1982-83) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1997-98).
Much loved by his students, Professor Elliott proved equally effective in delivering field-based courses to geoscientists and engineers within the petroleum industry, and in 2006 he left Liverpool to pursue consultancy work. A fieldwork scholarship has been established in his name in recognition of the exceptional enthusiasm and skill he always brought to such assignments.
Andy Pulham, a former PhD student who became Professor Elliott’s closest colleague, recalled “a true gentleman of geology” whose “keen insight, rigorous analytical mind and ability to engage with everyone, irrespective of experience, were a delight to witness. Anyone who shared time with him will recall his extraordinary use of his hands to express ideas and concepts”.
“Trevor will also be remembered for his distinctive dress style, particularly in the field. His counter-conventional choice of bright and pastel colours and his ability to remain spotless even on wet and muddy field days are legend among his colleagues and students.”
Professor Elliott died of cancer on 28 January and is survived by his wife Marianne, director of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, and their son Marc.