Peter retired as George Herdman Professor of Geology at the University of Liverpool in 2014. He studied mainly physical processes of volcanic activity, including geophysical fluid dynamics, geochemistry and structural geology. Primarily a field geologist he has undertaken many seasons of research in Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia, the Lake District and Glencoe, as well as on numerous volcanoes worldwide. He dived on the deep roots of ancient volcanoes off northwest Scotland, for example at St Kilda, and on active volcanoes off coasts of Iceland (Surtsey and Heimaey) and New Zealand (White Island). He recently focused on debris flows and avalanches, involving laboratory experiments and also field studies of the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens, USA, and the Minoan eruption of Santorini, Greece. Latterly he described avalanche phenomena in craters on the Moon, using astonishingly detailed photographs taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.
In 2013 he was awarded the Murchison Medal of The Geological Society, for “a significant contribution to geology by means of a substantial body of research and for contributions to ‘hard’ rock studies”. Mostly he had enjoyed himself out of doors.
Peter attended Penclawdd Junior School, Gowerton Grammar School and Llandaff Tech. He obtained a ‘first’ in BSc Geology at Prifysgol Aberystwyth (Aberystwyth University), an MSc in Geochemistry at the University of Oxford and a PhD from Aberystwyth University. After 10 years of teaching and research at Ulster University he transferred to the University of Liverpool as Reader in Geology and then became the George Herdman Professor. Now, he is back home on Gower, exploring and writing, following the fortunes of Penclawdd rugby team, and occasionally enjoying one or two pints of warm Welsh bitter.