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Biographical entry Madigan, Cecil Thomas (1889 - 1947)

15 October 1889
Renmark, South Australia, Australia
14 January 1947
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Geologist and Explorer


Cecil Madigan was a geologist who participated in the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911 - 1914 as meteorologist: during the Expedition he led explorations in Adelie Land and King George V Land. After serving in the Royal Engineers during WWI and taking his degrees at the University of Oxford, Madigan returned to South Australia and held the position of Lecturer in Geology at the University of Adelaide for 25 years from 1922. During this time he made significant studies on the geology of the Fleurieu Peninsula (S.A.) and the MacDonnell Ranges (N.T.), when he pioneered the use of aircraft for scientific reconnaissance and photography. In 1939 he organised an expedition to the Simpson Desert, which he named, making a particular study of sand dunes. Madigan's best-known publications are Central Australia (1936) and Crossing the dead heart (1946). He served as President of the Royal Society of South Australia in 1936. The Madigan Nunatak in Antarctica is named in his honour.



Education - BSc, University of Adelaide
Award - Rhodes Scholarship
1911 - 1914
Career position - Meteorologist, Australian Antarctic Expedition
Award - Polar Medal
1914 - 1918
Career position - Served with the Royal Engineers
Education - BA, University of Oxford
Career position - Assistant Government Geologist, Sudan
Education - MA, University of Oxford
1922 - 1947
Career position - Lecturer in Geology, University of Adelaide
Education - DSc, University of Oxford
1935 - 1936
Career position - President, Royal Society of South Australia
Career position - President, Geographical Section, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science
1939 - 1946
Career position - Member of Council, South Australia Branch, Royal Geographical Society of Australasia
1940 - 1943
Career position - Chief Instructor, School of Military Field Engineering, Liverpool, New South Wales
Award - Sir Joseph Verco Medal, Royal Society of South Australia

Related Awards

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana

  • Cecil Thomas Madigan - Records, 1927 - 1939, PRG 43; State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Parkin, L. W., 'Madigan, Cecil Thomas (1889-1947), Geologist and Explorer' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle, eds, vol. 10 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1986), pp. 374-376. Details
  • Twidale, C. Rowland, 'The Study of Desert Dunes in Australia' in History of Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology, Grapes, R. H., Oldroyd, D. R. and Grigelis, A., eds (London: Geological Society, 2008), pp. 215-39. Details

Edited Books

  • Madigan, J. W. ed., Madigan's Account: the Mawson expedition: the Antarctic Diaries of C. T. Madigan 1911-1914 (Hobart: Wellington Bridge Press, 2012), 608 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Madigan, C.T., 'The Past, Present and Future of the Society, and its Relations to the Welfare and Progress of the State.', Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia, lx (1936), i-xv. Details
  • Madigan, J. A., 'Dr. C. T. Madigan', Nature, 159 (1947), 363-4. Details
  • Twidale, C. R., Parkin, L. W. and Rudd, E. A., 'C.T. Madigan's contributions to geology in South Australia', Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 114 (1990), 157-67. Details



  • Madigan, J. W. ed., Madigan's Account: the Mawson expedition: the Antarctic Diaries of C. T. Madigan 1911-1914 (2012)
    Lucas, Anna, Polar Journal, 3, (2013), 260-1. Details

See also

  • Lugg, Desmond and Ayton, Jeff, 'In the Footsteps of McLean, Jones and Whetter: 100 Years of Australian Antarctic Medical Practice', Australian Antarctic Magazine, 22 (2012), 36-9. Details
  • Stephens, C.G. and Quirk, J.P., 'James Arthur Prescott 1890-1987', Historical Records of Australian Science, 7 (3) (1988), 299-313. Details

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn