Ben Edmestone Barnes

Ben Edmestone Barnes

Ben Edmestone Barnes (London, England, June 3, 1903 - May 28, 1969, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), also known as Ben Barnes or Professor Barnes, was for many years Professor of Structural Geology and Geophysics at the Course of Geology of the "Escola de Minas" (School of Mines) da Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Brazil ( He obtained his degree of Mining Engineer from the School of Mines of Clausthal ("Bergakademie of Clausthal,Germany") and his doctoral degree in Scientia Naturalis from the Geological Institute of Halle, Wittenberg (Germany). He also had degrees in geophysical engineering from the "Institut de Géophysique Appliquée of Strassbourg,France;" engineer geology from the "Ècole Nationale de Géologie de Nancy, France"; and petroleum geology from the "Institut Français du Pétrole, Paris".

After 10 years working in the fields of geology and geophysics with emphasis on petroleum and coal exploration in many countries, Professor Barnes was contracted in 1946 by the National Council of Petroleum of Brazil(Conselho Nacional do Petróleo-CNP), and assigned to the sedimentary basin of Bahia State. Here he began as assistant geologist to the American geologist Dixon in reconnaissance geological mapping. In July, 1949 he started heading his own field geology crew, carrying out relevant geological mapping in the Recôncavo Bahiano Basin. With a large experience in the fields of structural geology and interpretation of geophysics,such as electrical and stratigraphic logging, Ben Barnes changed drastically the interpretation of the geology of the Recôncavo Region. The previous idea for the basin was that of successive anticlines and synclines. He demonstrated by means of his maps and logs that the structural framework was one of an asymmetrical major graben with internal antithetic and synthetic faults. Later he became Professor of Structural Geology, Geophysics and Petroleum Geology at the Escola de Minas de Ouro Preto for 5 years. Before this time there were no courses of geology in Brazil. In 1959, during the presidency of Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, 5 courses of geology were created in Brazil. This was done by means of CAGE("Campanha de Formação de Geólogos"- Campaign for Formation of Geologists.

Ben Barnes was a dedicated professor and he regularly took his students for about two months field training in the Recôncavo Bahiano every year. The first five classes of geologists graduated by the Escola de Minas de Ouro Preto from 1961 to 1965, under his influence worked mainly in the fields of the subjects he taught.

Ben Barnes had only a few papers published in the Bulletin of the CNP, but his scientific thoughts, his high capacity as a teacher and his enthusiasm for polemic matters on the frontier of science, influenced many generations of his students, particularly in the subjects of structural geology, geophysics, petroleum geology and mineral deposits. Most of his students, after graduation, worked for PETROBRÁS and for many mining companies or universities in Brazil. Many of them became also influential to later generations of students thus creating a chain of progressive knowledge in the country on the cited fields of the geological sciences.


*Personal knowledge of author during his university years.

* Barnes, B. E.(1949)Problems of the relationship between tectonics and sedimentation in the Recôncavo. Relatório Interno("Internal Report"), n.º 361. PETROBRÁS, DIREX-RPBA, Salvador,Bahia.


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