William Noel Benson was one of the most renowned geologists in Australia and New Zealand during the first half of the twentieth century. He studied geology at the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge and occupied the Chair of Geology at the University of Otago with great distinction for thirty-three years. His research work extended across the greater part of the geological spectrum and gained him world-wide recognition and a reputation as a scholar in the classical mode. His name is today most closely associated with his pioneering work on the composition, origin and tectonic setting of the mafic and ultramafic rocks of the Great Serpentine Belt of New South Wales, and with his unfinished study of the Tertiary volcanic rocks of the Dunedin district, in New Zealand. He also made important contributions in such diverse fields as palaeontology, geomorphology, engineering geology and medical geology. Benson was a highly respected teacher and a compassionate man with deep religious convictions.

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