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William Rex Riedel (1927 - 2020)

William Rex Riedel

William Rex Riedel was born on September 5th in 1927, in Tanunda, South Australia. He was educated at the University of Adelaide majoring in geology and zoology. He got a bachelor’s degree with first class honors in 1947, a master’s degree in 1952 and a Doctor of Science degree in 1976.

In 1950 he went to the Oceanographic Institute in Gothenburg, Sweden, to study the radiolarian sediments collected by the Swedish Deep-Sea Expedition of 1947-48.

Bill moved to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in La Jolla, California, in 1951, where he remained for almost 50 years, except for a brief return in 1954-55 to his old position as paleontologist at the South Australian Museum.

Bill became the first curator of the Geological Collections at SIO in 1955. His work on Cenozoic radiolarian stratigraphy and evolution was based at first on sediment cores collected on oceanographic expeditions, supplemented by land-based sequences, and later on materials collected by the Deep Sea Drilling Project and the Ocean Drilling Program (in collaboration with Annika Sanfilippo). Bill served as chair of the SIO Geological Research Division from 1978-1983. In 1990, he became curator of DSDP cores and served on the JOIDES Information Handling Panel. He retired to Marananga in Australia in 2000.

Bill’s work on radiolarian taxonomy and stratigraphy has been acknowledged worldwide. In addition to an immense scientific legacy he leaves behind his daughter Catherine of Hamilton, NSW and his sons Philip of Seattle, WA and David of Greenbrae, CA and 6 grandchildren.

For tributes from the radiolarian community, please see below.

Right-to-left: Philip, David, Catherine, Elizabeth and Bill.
Right-to-left: Philip, David, Catherine, Elizabeth and Bill. (Courtesy of the Riedel family)

Tributes from radiolarian colleagues and friends:

Annika Sanfilippo-Howard

Dave Johnson

Demetrio Boltovskoy

Jim Hayes

Patrick De Wever

Paulian Dumitrica

Ted Moore

More tributes will be added soon.

Bill 1968 (UC San Diego Library)

Bill 1975 (UC San Diego Library)

Links & References

TEDx Adelaide 2016 (video)

Source of header photo

William Rex Riedel Biography (pdf)

Portrait of William R. Riedel

Life magazine article from 1961

Bill Riedel bio on Palaeontologia Electronica

Dedication (by Chuck Colgan)
PDF From Scripps Institute of Oceanography