October 12, 1898-January 12, 1980
BY ALEXANDER R. McBIRNEY
IT IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION to say that Howel Williams, through his own work and that of his students, was largely responsible for the emergence of volcanology as a rigorous branch of modern science. Few have left so pervasive an imprint on their fields; even fewer have inspired wider admiration or deeper affection.
Less interested in the eruptive phenomena of active volcanism than in broad structural and petrographic relations, he had a masterful ability to reconstruct the forms and histories of long-extinct volcanic provinces. It was his uncanny eye for landforms and the regional significance of lithologic relations that enabled him to synthesize the evolution of entire provinces from a few seasons of field reconnaissance and petrographic studies.
Born in Liverpool, England, Howel Williams was raised along with his identical twin, David, and six other children in a modest middle-class household. He spoke only Welsh until the age of six. His father recognized young Howel's ability early and encouraged his intellectual ambitions. With the help of a series of awards and scholarships, he began the