Stanley Keith Runcorn was born in Southport in 1922, and graduated in engineering at Cambridge in 1942. After a period in radar research during the war, he joined the Physics Department at Manchester University where he did research on aspects of the Earth’s magnetic field. This led to his interest in palaeomagnetism, the study of the magnetism of rocks, which he pursued first at the Geophysics Department in Cambridge and later at Newcastle, where he was appointed to the chair of Physics in 1956.
At Newcastle Runcorn developed a strong research group in geophysics, and made substantial contributions to various fields, including
He travelled widely, lecturing and attending conferences, and organized many international meetings at Newcastle, which became an internationally-known centre of geophysics and planetary physics.
Professor Runcorn received many honours, including Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1965, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Fleming medal of the American Geophysical Union. He was also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science. After his retirement in 1988 he continued to be active in various lines of research until his untimely death in San Diego in 1995.
Notes by David Collinson (reader in experimental palaeomagnetism, retired)
A list of books authored or edited by Runcorn and currently held by Newcastle University Library.