Rucklidge, John

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Professor Emeritus


John Christopher Rucklidge, Ph.D. (January 15, 1938 - May 7, 2021). Professor of Earth Sciences. His research focussed on determining the age and composition of the oldest rocks on earth and in meteorites. In 1969, he found and described the mineral bismuth telluride which is named after him (Rucklidgeite)


1 JOHN CHRISTOPHER RUCKLIDGE January 15, 1938 - May 7, 2021 It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of Dr. J.C. Rucklidge, Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, on Friday May 7, 2021 at the age of 83. He died at home in Surrey, England, in the presence of family after a brief stay in hospital. He is survived by his partner Patricia Boddington, his brother Miles (Margaret), his daughter Julia (Will) and three sons Alastair (Beverley), William (Mona) and Andrew (Gillian), by his four stepdaughters Sarah, Samantha, Victoria and Vanessa, and by his seven grandchildren, Duncan, Iain, Ellio, Toby, Hartley, Ria and Rowan. He was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire and was schooled in Carlisle where he and his brother developed their lifelong passion for mountaineering and climbing in the English Lake District. It is here that his early interest for geology developed, a passion that led him on many expeditions across the globe. He would arrive home with tales of icebound ships in Greenland, stale rations, camping on wind-swept glaciers, frostbite, and camaraderie under difficult conditions. He received his BSc at Cambridge, his PhD from Manchester in 1962, and after postdoctoral positions in Chicago and Oxford he took up his position at the University of Toronto in 1965, retiring in 1998. His main work was in geochronology, determining the age and composition of the oldest rocks in the earth and meteorites. In 1969, he first found and described the bismuth telluride mineral Rucklidgeite. John calmly worked through problems like groundwater on granite. He spoke the language of the elements and tricky mechanical things, lathes and particle accelerators, and yet he had a fondness for fixing your discarded vacuum cleaner. He saw the parts and all their future potential and not the debt in the transaction. He had a love of dogs and bikes and no matter where he lived he'd join the local choir, most notably the Church of St Simon the Apostle. For him music was fundamental to the social contract of life. There was so much to celebrate in the way he lived his life and he will be greatly missed. A small funeral took place on May 14 at the Guildford Crematorium. Expressions of sympathy may be made by donations to the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Association, Published by The Globe and Mail from May 22 to May 26, 2021.

2 In Memorium: Emeritus Professor John C. Rucklidge 1938 – 2021

Emeritus Professor John Rucklidge passed away late last week in England. Prior to retiring to the Lake District John had a long and illustrious career at the University of Toronto  teaching mineralogy and crystallography to many of our graduate and undergraduate students.  Early in his career, he along with John Gittins and Jeff Fawcett spent several field seasons exploring the geology of Greenland. He often would regale guests at dinner with some of their more funny/exciting adventures. John also developed an interest in trace element analysis and pioneered the early development of electron microprobe analysis of rocks and minerals, as well accelerator mass spectrometry. The latter in conjunction with the Isotrace facility maintained for many years in the basement of the physics building. John’s interests were very eclectic both within the department and outside academia from singing in assorted choirs to playing a pretty good game of tennis. He will be missed.

Grant S. Henderson

3 Emeritus Professor John Rucklidge passed away in early May, 2021. Research Interests: Micro-analysis and image-analysis of rocks and minerals for analytical and classification purposes; micro-analytical methods and equipment; ultra-sensitive isotopic (carbon-14) analysis in geological materials and meteorites; iodine-129 studies in the environment (e.g. mosses, seaweeds); applications of accelerator mass spectrometry in the earth sciences, especially the determination of precious metals at sub-ppb levels in individual mineral grains. Current and future research is dedicated to the improvement of determining isotope ratios in individual grains of meteoritic material, and to the detection of rare elements and isotopes at stratigraphic discontinuities such as the K/T (Cretaceous/Tertiary) boundary.

As a member of the Meteorites and Impacts Advisory Committee to the Canadian Space Agency (MIAC), he keeps in touch with fireball sightings and meteorite activities in Canada.


1: List of Publications:

2: Rucklidgeite Photos of Rucklidgeite (11) About Rucklidgeite Formula:PbBi2Te4; Colour:Silver-white; Lustre:Metallic; Hardness:2½ Specific Gravity:7.739; Crystal System:Trigonal; Member of:Aleksite Group

Name: Named after John Christopher Rucklidge (1938– ), Professor of Mineralogy, University of Toronto, who first found and partially described the mineral from the Robb-Montbray mine, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec (Rucklidge 1969). The Robb-Montbray mine is considered one of the type localities for the mineral (Clark 1993). Co-Type Localities:ⓘ Zod Mine (Sotk deposit), Vardenis, Gegharkunik Province, Armenia ⓘ Robb-Montbray Mine, Rouyn-Noranda TE, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, Canada ⓘ Pokrovskaya vein, Kochkar' Au deposit, Plast, Plastovsky District, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia Aleksite Group. Rucklidgeite is visually indistinguishable from many other bismuth tellurides. Many specimens sold as rucklidgeite have analysed as something else.