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Peter David Clarkson MBE BSc PhD FGS

Peter David Clarkson MBE BSc PhD FGS

Emeritus Associate

Currently assisting with the Institute's education and outreach activities by giving talks and lectures to various school and adult groups; reviewing books, writing contributions to books.


Peter Clarkson developed an early interest in the polar regions. As a schoolboy he followed the progress of Sir Vivian Fuchs Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1955–58). He graduated from Durham University in 1967 and joined the British Antarctic Survey as a geologist. He spent the 1968 and 1969 austral winters at Halley Bay station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Coats Land, Antarctica, and was Base Commander for the second winter. He carried out geological mapping in the Shackleton Range (80°S, 25°W) during the 1968–69 and 1969–70 austral summers before returning to the Department of Geology at Birmingham University to write up the work. He returned to Antarctica to do further summer field work in the Shackleton Range (1970–71), South Shetland Islands (1974–75), Shackleton Range (1977–78), and Antarctic Peninsula (1986–87). He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1976 and received a PhD from Birmingham in 1977.

In 1989 he left the British Antarctic Survey to take up the position of Executive Secretary of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), based in the Scott Polar Research Institute. SCAR is an international organization that "initiates, promotes and coordinates scientific research in the Antarctic and provides scientific advice to the Antarctic Treaty System". His work took him to meetings all over the world but not to Antarctica!

He has now retired and takes occasional Antarctic refresher courses on cruise ships to the Antarctic Peninsula when he lectures on a variety of Antarctic subjects. He has written numerous scientific and general articles about the Antarctic, contributed Antarctic articles to travel books and two encyclopaedias, and has written a book on volcanoes. Most recently he has written, with David Walton, a history of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). He is a total enthusiast for all things Antarctic and will talk endlessly about his passion to anyone prepared to listen!


  • 2005– Emeritus Associate, Scott Polar Research Institute
  • 1989–2005 Executive Secretary, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
  • 1967–89 Geologist, British Antarctic Survey


  • 1967 BSc Honours in Geology, Class II Division 1, University of Durham
  • 1976 Polar Medal: Antarctic 1968–69
  • 1977 PhD, University of Birmingham: thesis title "The geology of the Shackleton Range, Antarctica"
  • 1979 Fellowship of the Geological Society of London (FGS)
  • 2010 Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE): For services to Antarctic science


Formerly, Antarctic geology as a whole; Gondwana stratigraphy in relation to Antarctica; plate tectonics of Antarctica with particular reference to the component parts of Lesser Antarctica; economic mineral potential of Antarctica; petrology and geochemistry of igneous and metamorphic rocks.


Selected publications:

  • 2015 [Clarkson, P D] [Introduction in] Bernasconi, A. Blue Ice. Winterbourne, Papadakis Publisher. 15–29.
  • 2011 [Walton, D W H and Clarkson, P D]. Science in the Snow: Fifty years of international collaboration through the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. Cambridge, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
  • 2007 [Clarkson, P D]. [Advisory editor and several contributions in] Riffenburgh, B (ed), Encyclopedia of the Antarctic. New York, Routledge. 2 volumes.
  • 2004 Baxter, J, Burton, R, Cavendish, R, Clarkson, P, Cruwys, E, Riffenburgh, B and Williams, N. 100 Great Wonders of the World. Basingstoke, AA Publishing, 240 pp.
  • 2002 [Clarkson, P D]. [Advisory editor and several contributions in] Stonehouse, B (ed), Encyclopedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans. Chichester, John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • 2000 Clarkson, P D. Volcanoes. Grantown-on-Spey, Colin Baxter Photography Ltd, 72 pp.
  • 1998 Clarkson, P D. Vostok Lake, Antarctica. Science International, No 69, 1–3.
  • 1997 Clarkson, P D. SCAR and the Antarctic Environment. Science International, No 66, 1–4.
  • 1997 Clarkson, P D. Antarctica: Wilderness or Wasteland? The Alpine Journal 1997, 102, No 346, 8–12.
  • 1996 [Clarkson, P D]. [Several contributions in] Walton, K and Atkinson, R, Of Dogs and Men – Fifty Years in the Antarctic: The Illustrated Story of the Dogs of the British Antarctic Survey 1944–1994. Malvern Wells, Images Publishing (Malvern) Ltd, 190 pp.
  • 1995 Clarkson, P D, Tessensohn, F, Thomson, J W and others. Geological map of the Shackleton Range, Antarctica. BAS GEOMAP Series, Sheet 4, 1:250,000, with supplementary text. Cambridge, British Antarctic Survey, 79 pp.


  • No formal teaching commitments but lectures to schools, university students, adult groups, etc as required.

External activities

  • British Antarctic Survey Club (1970–), Chairman 1993–2004)
  • The Antarctic Club (1972–), President 1996
  • The Trans-Antarctic Association (1980–2017), Chairman 2006–17