Frank Coles Phillips was a petrographer, mineralogist and structural petrologist working in the middle of the 20th century. He was very influential, both in the UK and abroad and was responsible for encouraging the development of structural geology as a discipline in Australia and for the adoption of the stereogram as a fundamental interpretational tool in a structural geology in the UK. He was a superb teacher, perhaps best known amongst mineralogists and geologists of today for his classic textbooks, An Introduction to Crystallography and The Use of Stereographic Projection in Structural Geology.
Phillips was the first to apply the methods of structural petrology (the study of the microscopic fabric of deformed rock) in a attempt to unravel the complex structural history of the Moine rocks of northwestern Scotland. His findings were at odds with those of his contemporaries and resulted in the Moine petrofabrics becoming embroiled on a long-running controversy, only completely resolved since the mid-1980s.
This geological biography of an importance 20th century mineralogist and petrologist takes a critical look at Phillips' research in the context of contemporaneous developments in structural and Moine geology. It reviews his work in relation to both past problems and present solutions. It will be of interest to all geologists, especially structural and microstructural geologists, historians of sciences and the general reader with an interest in science.