This content is from the IOM3 News & Features Archive. 
See our latest news on our new website at

Gordon A Gross FIMMM (Obit)

Fellows' Lounge
4 Jul 2011

Gordon Gross FIMMM, who served in the 1970s as Commonwealth Geological Liaison Officer (CGLO), died suddenly on 14 March in Ottawa aged 87. A native of Ontario, Canada, he was educated in rural schools and left high school early to work in a munitions factory. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942. After training in Canada and the UK, he completed a tour of operational flights in Europe as a mid-upper air gunner, attaining the rank of Flying Officer.


Edcucation and career with the Geological Survey of Canada

He finished high school after the war and graduated from Queen’s University, Kingston, with BA and MA degrees, and from the University of Wisconsin with a PhD. After working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, USA, he joined the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in 1956, and started his life work on the study of iron formations of Canada and the world.


Mapping iron formations

At his memorial service, Dr Bob Baragar, a long-time friend and colleague, said, ‘during the 1960s much of Gordon’s work was focused on visiting, observing, assessing, recording and interpreting iron formation occurrences throughout much of Canada, but, particularly, in the eastern Canadian Shield and the Maritimes. Although much was inventory work, the varied occurrences that were presented to him by these studies provided a basis for developing methods of classifying, analysing and formulating theories of genesis of iron formations, and the conditions for ore formation within them.

‘The resulting science was mostly laid out in the first of three massive volumes that Gordon published in the Geological Survey’s Economic Geology Series in 1965, 1967 and 1968. These three volumes continue to be the bibles of iron exploration and studies in Canada and abroad.

‘The project broadened its base to cover the rest of Canada, the Ukraine, China, India and, after 1983, increasingly the seabed and the study of manganese nodules. The nature of the studies also tended to shift in later years, from analyses of physical form and setting to analyses of compositional shifts from site to site, and the significance in terms of origin and tectonic setting.’


Other work in the geological sector

During his two-year term as CGLO in London, Gordon provided a monthly newsletter with reports of research and activities of interest in the earth sciences to Commonwealth Geological Surveys. He learnt more about iron formations during two months spent visiting 10 of the Commonwealth countries in Africa.

Gordon completed assignments for the UN on four continents and contributed to its Survey of World Iron Ore Resources from 1966-67. For his work, he received a Public Service Award of merit from the Public Service of Canada. As well as other professional awards, he received the 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his contribution to Canada as a scientist and his commitment to his church and community. Gordon was a Fellow of many geological and mining associations.


Home life

Gordon met his future wife, Elizabeth Stewart, at Queen’s University, and they had a son and daughter, three granddaughters and a greatgrandson. Holidays were spent at their cottage, Ironwood, which Gordon designed and built. The pleasure that he found there was heightened by the fact that it sat on the bold granite of the Canadian Shield and had a few abandoned mica mines nearby.


After retiring in 1989, Gordon continued the iron project and, in the intervening years – 18 spent as an Emeritus Research Scientist – he published additional papers and a massive overview of iron formation in Canada called Genesis and Geochemistry. This was issued by the Survey in 2009.

Just a month before he died, his GSC Division recognised his outstanding contribution over 50 years to the consolidation and update of the iron in Canada database, and formally thanked him for his years as an Emeritus Scientist.