Passing of Dr. K.L. Currie


Kenneth Lyell Currie died on April 19, 2021 at the age of 86.  Ken was born on Sept. 7, 1934 in Peterborough Ontario. He graduated from Queens University in 1956 with distinction and a B.Sc. in geological engineering.  In 1959, he received the first Ph.D. in theoretical geology granted by the University of Chicago for his thesis “Mechanisms of Metasomatism.”  He was a student of Hans Ramberg.  Ken joined the Geological Survey of Canada in 1960. In 1961 he commenced a study of Canadian craters as an adjunct to the American space program and established the first experimental petrology laboratory at the GSC. His crater studies produced geological maps of the New Quebec Crater, Manicouagan, and Mistastin Lake which are still the only detailed maps of these structures. His work on Carswell highlighted the possibility of unconformity-related U mineralisation, which became the Cluff Lake mine. He showed that, whatever their origin, these complex structures have undergone a long geological development, a view now generally accepted. His expertise was recognised by appointment as a scientific investigator for the Apollo XI mission to the moon. In 1968, Ken commenced a study of the alkaline rocks of Canada involving careful field mapping and culminating in the comprehensive "Alkaline Rocks of Canada" (1976). He established a petrographic division of alkaline rocks and drew attention to the common occurrence of metamorphosed alkaline rocks, particularly those associated with supposedly compressive tectonic features such as the Grenville Front and the Cordillera. His observations on ocelli, together with a series of experimental investigations, re-established liquid immiscibility as a significant petrologic process. Investigation of fenitisation around alkaline complexes emphasized the close links between metasomatism, deformation, and metamorphism of alkaline rocks. His interest in peralkaline rocks led to experimental study of the complementary group of peraluminous compositions, and research on the uses of cordierite and sapphirine for thermobarometry. In 1973 Ken began working on the granitic rocks of the Appalachian orogen in Canada.  He focused on two regions:  One encompassed northern Long Range of Newfoundland through the southern Long Range, the Cape Breton Highlands, the Avalonian terranes of the Cobequid and Antigonish Highlands, and the Caledonia Highlands and Saint John area of New Brunswick. The other lay on the eastern margin of the 'Iapetus tract' along the Gander River. Over the next 20 years, he arranged mapping of this area at scales of 1:50,000 and 1:100,1000. He himself mapped more than 20,000 km, finding new phenomena which have impacted opinions about the Appalachian orogen. For 14 years he was the consultant for geological mapping for the federal-provincial Mineral Development Agreements for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. He used this position to promote neglected subjects such as Carboniferous stratigraphy and deformation. In the process he helped forge close and cooperative links among federal, provincial, and university geologists. Ken retired in 1998 but continued as an active emeritus research scientist, returning to his first love metasomatism and metamorphism, while winding up his Appalachian involvement.

Ken was preceded in death by his beloved wife Edrith after 57 years of marriage, and by his sister Margaret McBurney.  He is greatly missed by his sister Helen Gordon, his children David, Ruth (Lones), Joan (Charles), James (Lois), and Janet (Bentley), and by his grandchildren, Phileas, Titus, Matthias (Paige), Naomi, and Isaac Smith; Paul, Anna, and Elizabeth (Neil) Currie; and Ben and River MacLeod.

A memorial service will be held at Christ Risen Lutheran Church in Kanata ( at 10:30 on Sept. 25, 2021.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Lutherwood (