Bruce Cairncross was born August 13, 1953 in Standerton, Mpumalanga, South Africa, the son of Janet Duchart McGregor and William Bruce Cairncross, a bookkeeper. He had an interest in rocks and minerals at an early age, encouraged by his parents who were both interested in natural history. He spent his grade-school years in the rural setting of Standerton, often collecting agates along the Vaal River. After graduating from Standerton Primary and Nigel English Medium school, he served a stint in the military followed by a year as an accounting clerk. He went on to earn a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg in 1976, then entered the Master's Degree program. A vacation job with a mineral exploration company in Namibia in 1975 reawakened his interest in mineralogy, and on weekend trips to Windhoek he became acquainted with mineral dealer Sid Pieters (q.v.) and purchased his first Tsumeb specimens. A fellow student introduced him to The Mineralogical Record in 1977, adding fuel to the fire. Graduating with his M.S. degree in 1979, Bruce then took a position as geologist for Rand Mines in Johannesburg. In 1981 he joined the Geology Department at the University of Witwatersrand, and completed his PhD work on coal sedimentology in 1986. Two years of post-doctoral work were followed by an appointment as a senior lecturer at Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) in 1989. Seventeen years later, he is now Professor of Geology and Chairman of the Department.
Bruce has a personal collection of 5,200 cataloged mineral specimens from southern African localities, including 1,500 thumbnail-size specimens. Specimens from Tsumeb and the Kalahari Manganese Field form the core of his collection, supplemented by specimens from the Erongo Mountains, Onganja, Karibib, Messina, Okiep, the Witwatersrand goldfields, the Goboboseb Mountains, and other regional localities.
Bruce has personally visited many of the more important mineral localities in South Africa and Namibia, and has written five books and over 60 popular articles on the deposits of the region. He is also the author of 77 professional journal articles and a large number of proceedings abstracts, technical reports and public lectures (including talks at the Tucson Show and the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium), and has supervised a total of ten Masters and Doctoral students. His 2006 Mineralogical Record article (with co-author Uli Bahmann) on the Erongo Mountains won the Friends of Mineralogy's Best Article of the Year Award. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa, a past Vice President of the International Association of Sedimentologists, and is currently Chairman of the African Geological Museum in Johannesburg. In his spre time he plays the guitar (acoustic and electric), plays golf and squash, and is a Life Member of the South African Guide Dogs Association. Bruce and his wife Theresa have one daughter, Charna.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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A label from 2000