John Bicknell Auden obtained his ScD degree (1947) from the University of Cambridge, UK. His specialization was in Himalayan geology, engineering geology, and groundwater hydrology. He was Member (1926-53), Deputy Director-General (1949-53) and Acting Director-General of Geological Survey of India; Director of Sudan Geological Survey (1954-55); Research Geologist of Burmah Oil Company (1956-60); Member of Land and Water Development Division, FAO, Rome (1960-68); and Consulting Geologist to FAO and UNESCO.
Academic and Research Achievements: Auden specialized in Himalayan geology, engineering geology and groundwater geology. Auden's most important contribution to the geology of Himalayas resulted from his extensive fieldwork and mapping during 1929-35. The results were published in Records of the Geological Survey of India. He did extensive work on the Vindhyas of the Son Valley, the 1934 Bihar-Nepal earthquake, Himalayan geology, dykes and fractures in Western India, groundwater in Rajasthan dam sites and tunnel alignments in India and Nepal, bearing of geology on multipurpose projects, and seismicity associated with the Koyna reservoir. He personally investigated all the major dams and all the hydroelectric projects for over ten years in the entire subcontinent, i.e. in both India and the present Pakistan. The multipurpose projects he, thus, investigated included the DVC, Hirakund, Rihand, Bhakra, Beas, Narmada, Tapi, Koyna, Vaitrana, Muttupatty etc. apart from many others that failed to meet the technical requirements. Also, he carried out investigations for suitable dam sites across the Kosi and Kali Gandak in Nepal, as well as those on the Himalayas courses of the Ganga, Yamuna, Sutlej, Beas, Jhelum and Teesta within the Indian territory. These apart, he carried out studies on the groundwater resources in the arid regions of western Rajasthan, Kutch and Quetta. These, the earliest systematic groundwater studies in the country paved the way for extensive studies and widespread drilling operations by the Geological Survey of India, and later led to the establishment of an independent Central Groundwater Board under the Government of India. He also worked on UN projects in Afghanistan, Nepal, Tukey, Greece, Nigeria, Argentina, Uruguay and South Korea. So extensive and authentic were Auden's researches in engineering geology that Indian Society of Engineering Geology held a symposium and brought out a commemorative volume, namely, Geological and Engineering Problems of River-Valley Projects (1972).
Other Contributions: Auden was one of the Founders of the Himalayan Club (1927).
Awards and Honours: Auden was recipient of Gold Medal by Asiatic Society (1953); and DN Wadia Medal of INSA (1980). He was a Fellow of Asiatic Society; Geological Society of London; Geological Society of India; and Royal Geographical Society. He was President, Geology Section of Indian Science Congress (1951).