As early as 1895, when the study of Geology was little known in the country, St. Xavier’s College offered this subject as a part of the Natural Science course of the University of Mumbai. Till 1919, Geology was taught by Fr. Blatter, a Jesuit priest, who was also the most eminent professor of botany, acclaimed for his exhaustive research work on the flora of the Indian subcontinent. In June 1919 Prof. Joseph Frances D’Almeida, who was a professor of biology, took over as an assistant professor of geology.
In 1920 the University of Bombay recognized Geology as an independent subject, and Dr. Ardeshir S. Kalapesi, who was earlier a tutor of chemistry and physics, assumed the charge as the Head of the Department of Geology. He was reputed for his study of Dartmoor Granitic rocks of Scotland, and the discovery of Ultra Basic Rocks of Mumbai region. He remained a research guide of Geology of the University of Mumbai till his retirement in 1954.
Dr. Ratan Nadirshaw Sukheswala, a student of this Department, acquired the degree of Ph.D. from the University of Mumbai and assumed headship in 1954. For the next twenty years, till he retired in 1974, he was continuously involved with research with university departments abroad and gained international repute for his contributions to the literature on the Geology of Mumbai and the Deccan Traps of India. In 1963 the Department gained international fame once more with his discovery in India of Carbonatite, one of the rare rock types of the world. He also discovered another rate rock, viz., Pseudo Leucite Tinguite in India, it being the second occurrence in the world. For his meritorious service in the field of education in this college His Holiness Pope Paul VI awarded him a certificate of merit and a medal during His visit to Mumbai.
In 1956 the Department was recognized as a Postgraduate Centre for Geology of the University of Mumbai, and ever since has remained a sole institution for geological research up to doctoral level in the University.
Dr. Sam Framroz Sethna followed Dr. Sukheswala as the Head of this Department from 1974 to 1986, and continued the trend of research activity until his retirement in 1996. He contributed towards the discovery of another rare rock type called Pseudo Leucite-Tinguite as well as an Igneous Intrusive Complex of Layered Gabbro of the Phenai Mata Hill in Gujarat for the first time in India. He carried out a part of his work at the University of Cambridge, U.K., and at the University of Freiburg, Germany. For the past several years he has been involved with research projects awarded by the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India. He is presently in the final phase of completing his third DST project on “Intrusives of Deccan Traps of Saurashtra”. His earlier DST projects dealt with “Petrology and Mineralogy of Deccan Trap along a part of the Western Coastal Tract”, (1987-91) and “Mineralogy, Petrology and Petrogenesis of Acid, Intermediate and Alkaline Rocks Associated with the Deccan Trap along the West Coast and their correlation with Intrusives South of Tapti Valley”, (1992-94). He has so far successfully guided one Master’s and eleven Doctoral Theses.
Dr. Rohinton Kersasp Avasia, Head of the Department from 1986-2002. He has been continuously in research since 1964 and has worked on a rare occurrence of an alkaline syenite rock within the Deccan Traps of Western India, and on the systematic zonal mapping of the secondary minerals in the lava flows of the Deccan Traps, part of his latter work being carried out by him at the University of Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A., and E.T.H., Zurich, Switzerland. He is also a Certified Gemologist holding a Diploma of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. He also has had collaboration with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of the Government of India for the study of micropalaeontology and sedimentology of coastal and offshore sediments. Post retirement he continued in academics by becoming the head of the gemmology division of the Indian Institute of Gems and Jewellery promoted by the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council and Ministry of Commerce, Government of India.
Dr. Srinivas Ganesh Viladkar, who has been on staff since 1977 has a long record of research work and collaboration. His major research was on the carbonatites of Amba Dongar first identified by Dr. R. N. Sukeshwala his guide and mentor. He later went on to further his research in the field of carbonatites from all over the country. He was awarded the Humboldt Fellowship in 1980.
Dr. Syed Jafar Najafi, head of the Geology department, is a true Xavierite. He obtained the PhD degree in geology by doing research on the rocks of Mahabaleshwar and surrounding areas, under the guidance of Prof. R.N. Sukheswala. Dr. Najafi was the first person to do research on the opaque minerals of the basalts of the Mahabaleshwar plateau. He joined the teaching staff in 1979 and retired in 2008. He worked as chairman of the Board of Studies in Geology, of the University of Mumbai, in addition to being a member of the Academic Council and the Faculty of Science of Mumbai University.
Dr Bhaktawar Sethna, joined the department in 1979 as a teacher in the junior college which was then an integrated course in the department. Later on, she was accommodated in the senior college. She had completed her undergraduate from Wadia college and post graduate degree in geology from Pune University. On completion of her Masters degree she joined St. Xavier’s college and went on to complete her doctorate under the guidance of Dr Sam Sethna. She became the head of the department in 2008 and continued till her untimely demise in 2012.
Dr Niloufer Adil joined the department of Geology on the completion of her Post graduate degree in 1979 as teacher. Dr Goutam Bandyopadhyay after a long stint in the cement industry where he served for over a decade exploring for minerals for the industry in India as well as Africa, joined the department in 2002. He has served the department since then and recently superannuated as Associate Professor. Prior to his retirement he went for a short stint of one year to work with ArcelorMittal (London) in Africa. Dr. Ashutosh Singh joined the department in 2008 and proceeded to join Delhi University in 2009. Dr. Syed Hilal Farooq joined the department in 2010 and after a short stay, he proceeded to join IIT Bhubaneswar as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Vikram Pratap Singh was associated with our department from 2012 and then went on to join the Indira Gandhi Tribal University at Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh as an assistant Professor in 2015. Dr. Sadaf Fatima joined this department in 2012 from Geological Survey of India and after a brief stint left to join ONGC in 2013.