Pronab Kumar Banerjee did his PhD (1970) from the University of Calcutta. His areas of specialization were mineral exploration, geochemistry and laterites. He held different scientific positions from 1955 onwards, ending as Deputy Director General, Geological Survey of India (GSI).
Academic and Research Achievements: Banerjee established the inverted stratigraphic sequence, superposed folding and metamorphic events of the Gangpur Group (Orissa); rift-related magmatism and associated Cr-V-Ti metallogeny as an indicator of Proterozoic plate tectonics in the Sukinda area (Orissa); and records of climatic reversals in the laterites of Kerala. He also formulated the model of two-step sea-level regression during the last Glacial maximum and the record of the Little Ice Age in the spits and dunes of the east coast of India. He discovered the first nickel deposit of the country. By careful structural, lithological and metamorphic facies mapping of the Gangpur group of rocks in Orissa in 1960-61, Banerjee established that they represented an inverted stratigraphic sequences, and instead of being older, they were actually younger than the rocks to their south and east. This study, continued for two decades, in Orissa, covering progressively the Iron Ore group and the Eastern Ghats rocks, to establish (by orthodox tools and techniques) a stratigraphic sequence of the Precambrain rocks of Orissa younging from the Eastern Ghats to Gangpur. By detailed geological mapping and laboratory studies, he established the nature and economic mineral resources (chromite and nickel oxide ores) of the Sukinda ultramafic field, Orissa and analysed their evolution in space-time in relation to the marginal, reactivated fringe of the Eastern Ghats. On the basis of extensive field and laboratory studies, Dr Banerjee established the stratigraphic and tectonic settings of the Precambrain basic volcanic rocks of Bihar and Orissa and demonstrated that their emplacement had distinctive, steady-state, rift across an older acidic crust. Dr Banerjee built up a comprehensive geochemical and morphotectonic milieu of the laterites of Orissa and traced their growth during the Tertiary time. The oldest laterites, which host the largest deposits of aluminum oxides grew on a long time-cycle (50-100 my) of breakdown and transformation of rocks into soil and then of soil into bauxites whereas the younger laterites grew quicker and were devoid of mineral deposits.
Other Contributions: Banerjee was the Convener of International UNESCO Working Group on Lateritization Processes (1977-83). He was Editor of Indian J Geol(1987-89). He was Member of INSA Council (1993-95).
Awards and Honours: Dr Banerjee received National Mineral Award (1972). He was a Fellow of Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Society of India.