ESHG Biographies

Dorothy Hill - image courtesy John Jell. Portrait by Lola McCausland (1967), collection of The University of Queensland - reproduced with permission.

Andrew Gibb Maitland 
Andrew Gibb Maitland (1864 – 1951)  was gazetted Government Geologist of Western Australia in November 1896 and remained in that position until November 1926. The thirty years saw a profound change in the knowledge of the geology of the state, which is embodied in the ninety one survey bulletins issued under Gibb Maitland's direction.

Gibb Maitland qualified as a civil engineer at the Yorkshire College of Science, Leeds, where he was influenced by Professor A.H. Green, a field geologist, to become an enthusiastic field man.  He joined the Geological Survey of Queensland late in 1888, and quickly showed his competence in the bush in the Mackay area. He was seconded for work in New Guinea in 1891, and his maps and reports are among the first in English on the Papua region. Gibb Maitland then returned to Queensland for detailed study of the intake beds of the great Artesian Basin.

Andrew Gibb Maitland - image courtesy Geological Survey of Western Australia

In Western Australia Gibb Maitland set up a geological survey, mining record office and public museum. He instituted a program of systematic mapping, and led from the field. In particular he paid attention to locating underground water sources, some bores between Geraldton and North West Cape still supplying water. He also predicted artesian water under the Nullarbor. Gibb Maitland spent several long periods in the Kimberleys and Pilbara, establishing stratigraphic order in the old rocks. By the time of his retirement more than half the state had been mapped at least in reconnaissance by members of the survey, who endured extraordinary conditions in the field.

Gibb Maitland edited The Mining Handbook of Western Australia (1919), but his major publications were his Summary of the Geology of Western Australia (also 1919) and three bulletins on the Pilbara. Also the WA Geological Survey, under his direction, produced significant reports on the Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie and Murchison goldfields, and the Collie coalfield. 

The Gibb Maitland Medal is awarded by the Western Australia Division of the Geological Society of Australia in order to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to geoscience in Western Australia.  The Gibb River (and Road) and the Maitland Range, and some invertebrate fossils are named for Gibb Maitland. The mineral known as maitlandite, named by E.S. Simpson, is now known to be thorogummite. 

Maitland was lucky in his earliest days in W.A. to have Government support with the immediate appointment of two assistant geologists, but his talent for organisation and commitment to economic geology resulted in a very productive period for the Geological Survey.  

David Branagan