William Telford

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William Telford
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William Murray Telford (1916-1997) was a Canadian physicist and geophysicist who made great contributions to mining geophysics. His name is familiar to most geophysicists as the lead author of the popular textbook Exploration Geophysics.


Contributed by Alex Becker, Robert E. Sheriff, and Lloyd P. Geldart [1]

William Murray Telford (1916-1997) was the Boyd Webster Emeritus Professor of Mining Engineering at McGill University, died in Montreal on 19 November 1997 at the age of 81. Born in Ottawa, Canada, he came to McGill as a student in 1935.

During World War II, he worked for the Canadian National Research Council on the development of thermionic tubes essential to the development of radar.

After the war he worked on the design and construction of the McGill synchro-cyclotron for his doctor’s degree. He introduced laboratory courses in geophysics while with the Physics Department, and in 1960 he was appointed associate professor of Applied Geophysics in the Department of Mining Engineering. In recognition of his achievements and contributions to ore discoveries in Eastern Canada, he was appointed to the George Boyd Webster Chair of Mining Engineering in 1975. Professor Telford carried out applied research and practical implementation and commercialization in a number of areas, including the use of gamma-ray spectrometry for geological radiometric mapping, phase measurements in induced polarization, and studies of the mechanism of spontaneous polarization. He realized the value of multiple spacing and multiple frequency measurements in electromagnetic prospecting. He was awarded the Grand Prix for Geoscience by the Quebec Association of Professional Geologists and Geophysicists in 1994.

In 1976 the book Applied Geophysics, of which he was the senior author, was published. This book became a standard textbook and, including the second edition (in 1990) and translations, has sold more than 42,000 copies.

Murray is survived by his son and daughter.



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  1. Memorial, 1998, The Leading Edge Jul 1998, Vol. 17, No. 7, pp. 975.
  2. Whaley, J., 2017, Oil in the Heart of South America, https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2017/10/oil-in-the-heart-of-south-america], accessed November 15, 2021.
  3. Wiens, F., 1995, Phanerozoic Tectonics and Sedimentation of The Chaco Basin, Paraguay. Its Hydrocarbon Potential: Geoconsultores, 2-27, accessed November 15, 2021; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281348744_Phanerozoic_tectonics_and_sedimentation_in_the_Chaco_Basin_of_Paraguay_with_comments_on_hydrocarbon_potential
  4. Alfredo, Carlos, and Clebsch Kuhn. “The Geological Evolution of the Paraguayan Chaco.” TTU DSpace Home. Texas Tech University, August 1, 1991. https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/handle/2346/9214?show=full.