Norman Henry (Doc) Fisher (1909 - 2007)

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Portrait of Norman Henry (Doc) Fisher

Portrait of Norman
Henry (Doc) Fisher

Born September 30, 1909 in Hay, N.S.W., Fisher was raised in the Darling Downs, Queensland, and attended Toowoomba Grammar School. He studied science at Queensland University, majoring in geology and chemistry, and gained his Bachelor of Science at the end of 1930. After obtaining his Honours degree in geology in 1931 he accepted a position as Mine Geologist with Mt Isa Mines Limited. Over the next three years Fisher’s work consisted mainly of mapping current and previous underground workings, some surface mapping and accompanying other geologists to examine mining prospects.

In September 1934 he accepted the position of Government Geologist in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. He spent the next eight years examining and mapping mines and prospects throughout the Territory. After the Rabaul volcano erupted in 1937 a large part of his time was devoted to volcanic studies. He supervised the establishment of a Vulcanology Observatory and Observation Posts in Rabaul in 1939–40.

Following his escape from New Guinea in early 1942, Dr Fisher transferred to the Mineral Resources Survey in Canberra and soon afterwards was appointed Chief Geologist. He spent the remainder of the war years surveying and assessing strategic mineral deposits and compiling reports on Australia’s strategic mineral resources.

When the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR) was established in June 1946, Dr Fisher was appointed Chief Geologist and held this position (although the title varied) until 1969. He initiated a program of field work and laid the foundations for a unified scheme of geological map production in cooperation with the State geological surveys. As the field program developed, Dr Fisher directed the BMR’s geological activities increasingly to systematic geological mapping, particularly in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. He also placed increasing emphasis on the production of regional geophysical maps and offshore geophysical surveys.

Throughout his career he gave priority to the publication of the results of BMR’s work in the form of bulletins, reports, records and maps and to making information gained by BMR field parties available to companies engaged in exploration as quickly as possible.

He was appointed Director of BMR in 1969 and retired in September 1974, although his contributions to the earth sciences continued. He was President-General of the 25th International Geological Congress (IGC) held in Sydney in 1976 which was the first IGC to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1976 for his contribution to the geological mapping of Australia and to international relations in the geological sciences.

Doc Fisher passed away on September 23, 2007.

Topic contact: reference.library@ga.gov.au Last updated: May 31, 2012