Alan Cecil Cook

Memorial provided by Adrian Hutton,
with additional information from Sue Fletcher
and Greg Smith of The Australian Geologist.

Alan was born 22nd of May 1935, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Northern England, the son of a coal miner. He undertook his early education at the Royal Grammar School, and won a scholarship to Cambridge. Alan’s three great interests were science, aviation and sport and whilst at school was a fast bowler in the 1st XI cricket team.

At Cambridge he studied geology, physics and mathematics with a major in paleontology, and subsequently received his Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees.
In 1990 he was awarded the prestigious Doctor of Science for his international contribution to science. He was also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and was awarded the Reinhardt Thiessen medal in 1996.

After completing his studies, Alan went on to work for the UK National Coal Board the before moving to Australia in 1959 where he joined CSIRO. During his tenure at CSIRO, Alan developed his interests in the petrography of coal and coke. He later worked for the Joint Coal Board of New South Wales where he was introduced to using large computer databases.

In 1964 Alan was appointed as a lecturer in geology in the Department of Metallurgy at the University of Wollongong. As the University grew, geology became a department in its own right and Alan was appointed the first head of the Department of Geology. Under his guidance, staff and student numbers grew and he was appointed Foundation Professor of the department at the young age of 35. While Alan was well prepared for stratigraphy, sedimentology and biostratigraphy, teaching in a small university required him to master subjects including crystallography, organic chemistry and coal beneficiation. His grounding in mathematics allowed him to branch into mathematical geology, geostatistics and computing, becoming a founding member and initial Australian representative for the International Society of Mathematical Geology. One of his first Ph.D students was Bob Johnson who went on to found Maptek a leading Australian mining software company.

Alan continued as head of the department until just before his resignation from the university in 1990. Alan made organic petrography on the important fields of research during his tenure at the university. He used research grants to improve facilities and with the purchase of a microscope with fluorescence capabilities he pioneered fluorescence studies in Australia.

Alan was one of the first heads of department at the University of Wollongong to realize the benefits of international students from Asia, both financially and culturally. Through his efforts, the Department of Geology gained many Masters Degree and PhD graduates from countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Indonesia, Iran and Iraq.

In 1978, whilst working at the University of Wollongong, Alan set up a consultancy company at home, Keiraville Konsultants Pty Ltd which specialized inorganic petrography, especially vitrinite reflectance and maceral analysis for petroleum source rocks. Keiraville Konsultants became a well-reputed consultancy providing services to the oil and gas industry in Australia and around the world. He was a member of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia and the Geological Society of Australia.

Alan gained an international reputation for his expertise in coal, petroleum generation and resources and published over 100 journal articles including some of the seminal work on the use of early maceral studies for the estimation of thermal maturity of oil and gas source rocks. He compiled and edited AUSTRALIAN BLACK COAL (1975) which was the benchmark for both academia and industry for many years. Alan also served on numerous professional committees and editorial boards, including early work for the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the International Journal of Mathematical Geology, the International Journal of Coal Geology, the AAPG Bulletin and Australian Coal.

Alan flew the flag for Australian petrographers at ICCP and TSOP meetings, encouraging other Australian researchers to join and participate. He organized the only ICCP meeting to be held in Australia, at the University of Wollongong in 1990 and was President of ICCP from 1999 to 2007. He was one of the organizers of the ICCP Accreditation Sub-Committee and his command of mathematics ensured the rigor of the scheme.

Both before and after his resignation from the University of Wollongong, Alan regularly presented lectures, workshops and short courses for universities, industry and government organizations in Australia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, South Africa, Thailand, UK, and USA. He co-presented the ICCP Course in Organic Petrography in Johannesburg in May 2011.

Alan spent the latter part of his life at the Keiraville residence with his wife Dian, listening to classical music or studying aircraft, his two other fascinations, or together on one of their many overseas journeys back to the UK or Indonesia. Alan passed away peacefully at home, 17th November, 2011.