S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Rastall, Dr Robert Heron (geology)

Born: 8 November 1871, Whitby, Yorkshire, England.
Died: 3 February 1950, Whitby, Yorkshire, England.

Robert H. Rastall, British geologist, was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he obtained the degrees Master of Arts (MA) and later Doctor of Science (ScD). He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of London (FGS), and in 1903 became a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. From 1906 to 1913 he was a Fellow of Christ's College, and in 1906 published a catalogue of minerals, etc. in Cambridge University's Sedgwick Museum. He travelled in South Africa, the Malay Peninsula and elsewhere on geological work.

By 1906 Rastall was in South Africa, where he spent some time in Kimberley. At the annual congress of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Kimberley that year, he contributed a paper on "The petrography of the rocks surrounding the diamond pipes of the Kimberley District", which was published in the association's Report for that year (pp. 269-288). In this paper he described how the mine shafts at Kimberley pass through up to 300 m of light greenish quartz porphyries and acid amygdaloids, between which and the underlying granite are some 100 m of nearly horizontal sediments, including conglomerates.

Rastall's next contribution to South African geology was a paper, "Geology of the Worcester, Roberson and Ashton District (Cape Colony)", in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society (1911, Vol. 47, pp. 701-732). In this paper he noted that inclusions of rocks from the Malmesbury Group, and probably also from the Table Mountain Group, are absent in the Enon Conglomerate Formation, indicating that these two groups were not exposed in the region when the Enon conglomerates were formed. Also in 1911 he was co-author with F.H. Hatch* of a paper on "Dedolomitisation in the marble of Port Shepstone (Natal)", in the same journal.

From 1915 to 1919 (during World War I) Rastall was associated with the British War Office. He was elected a member of the council of the Geological Society of London in 1915, and of the council of the Mineralogical Society in 1918. In addition to numerous papers he published a number of books: Agricultural geology (1916), Tungsten ores (with W.H. Wilcokson, 1920), The geology of the metalliferous deposits (1923), Physico-chemical geology (1927), and, as co-author with F.H. Hatch, The petrology of the sedimentary rocks (3rd ed., 1938). He was furthermore at some time editor of the Geological Magazine.

List of sources:
British Association for the Advancement of Science. Report of the seventy-fifth meeting... South Africa, 1905, list of members.

Du Toit, A.L. The geology of South Africa (3rd ed.) Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1954.

Hall, A.L. A bibliography of South African geology to the end of 1920. Pretoria: Geological Survey, Memoir No. 18, 1922.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1906.

Who was who, Vol. 4, 3rd ed. London: Adam & Black, 1964.

Compiled by: C. Plug