Preface Vol 1:
Acad. Prof.
Dr. Mircea Sandulescu

Preface Vol 2:

John F. Dewey. FRS, FGS.


The "Conspiracy of Silence"
is finally broken:

Two letters in Romanian
sent to:

Inst Geologic al Romaniei

May 1997 (PDF)
August 1997 (PDF)

"Seismo-Tectonics of the Carpathians and Central Asia"

A Dissertation submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,
University of Cambridge, 1973
Constantin Roman

Peterhouse and the Dept. of Geodesy & Geophysics


"Seismotectonics of the Carpathians and Central Asia, Part II"
(Romanian J. Geophysics, Vol 19, 236pp, Publ Geological Institute of Romania, Bucharest, 2000).

"Seismotectonics of the Carpathians and Central Asia, Part I"
(Romanian J. Geophysics, Vol 18, 196pp, Publ. Geological Institute of Romania, Bucharest, 1998).

Volume 01 - Preface:

Having been invited by the Geological Institute of Romania to contribute a Foreword to the publication of the "Seismo-Tectonics of the Carpathians and the Central Asia" a dissertation submitted for the degree of PhD (Cambridge, 1973), it is my privilege, as Head of the Romanian Academy's Geonomic Section, to state that Dr. Constantin Roman's dissertation represented, at that time, a contibution to the development of Plate Tectonics in general and the Romanian tectonics in particular.

After his Master's degree from the Institute of Petroleum, Gas and Geology (1966), where he studied under professors Sabba Stefanescu, Liviu Constantinescu, Ion Dumitrescu, Iulian Gavat, Constantin Roman was a Scholar of Peterhouse, the oldest Cambridge College, founded in 1284, which had amongst its alumni an array of distinguished scientists, amongst whom one should recall Cavendish, Kelvin, Dewar, Babbage and this century several Nobel prize winners.

Dr. Roman's thesis comprises original work, carried out between 1969 and 1973, at the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics at Cambridge. During his first year at Cambridge, Mr. Roman's project leader, Dan McKenzie, entrusted his pupil with the sound principle of publishing "as fast as possible ", in order to "secure the paternity of his ideas and preserve the scientific edge over his fellow scientists". This resulted in the article: "Seismicity in Romania - evidence for the sinking lithosphere" ("Nature",223, 1176-1178, 1970). After only one year as a research student, this was a brilliant start, which subsequently brought the project supervision under Sir Edward Bullard, FRS, the father of Marine Geophysics. Roman's examiners were D. H. Matthews (of sea-floor spreading fame) and Hal Thirloway, Head of the Seismic Laboratory of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Aldermaston and a world authority in monitoring Soviet Nuclear tests.

The first part of this thesis deals with the Seismicity of the Romanian territory This is the first time that a computer program of statistical mathematics was used on a cluster of Romanian earthquakes, in order to determine with greater precision their location. The results revealed a new geometry of sub-crustal foci, hitherto impossible to define accurately.

However, what is truly remarkable was the further refining of these seismic results (focal mechanisms, fault-plane solutions, travel-time residuals of P-waves) and the author's interpretation in terms of Plate Tectonics ("Plate Tectonics in the Carpathians - a case in development", Proc. European Seismological Commission, Luxembourg, 1970, ed. J.M. van Gils, A13, pp. 37-40, Bruxelles, 1971). Dr. Roman's plate tectonics research was contemporaneous with the plate tectonics model of the Romanian Carpathians, based on geological arguments (Radulescu and Sandulescu, Tectonophysics, 16, 1973).. Roman is quoted in important syntheses such as Le Pichon's "Plate Tectonics"(Elsevier, 1973) Richard Fiefield's "The making of the Earth" (Blackwell, 1985), Royden's "Pannonian Basin" (AAPG Memoir, 1987) and his ideas were subsequently adopted world-wide, following the publication of his article "Buffer plates, Rigid Plates, Sub-Plates - a comment on paper "Active tectonics of the Mediterranean" (Geophys. J. Roy. Astr. Soc., 33, 1973). Roman's article on the Tibetan and Sinkiang Buffer Plates was printed only weeks before Peter Molnar, of MIT, published his results.

The second part of this dissertation deals with the of the Himalayan Seismicity. The relocation of the Central Asian earthquakes, the analysis of the magnitude versus the spatial distribution of seismicity, the focal mechanisms and fault-plane solutions of major seismic events, led to the definition of theTibetan and the Sinkiang buffer plates.
This novel concept, coined by Dr. C. Roman, remains an important contribution to Asian tectonics: "Buffer plates - where continents collide" (New Scientist, 57, 830, 180-181, London, 1973, reprinted 1985). Other hyperseismic zones of the Eurasian continental crust were thus redefined, such as the Anatolian buffer plate and the Persian buffer plates, respectively, and this is now history.

The dissertation preserves a real interest for the Romanian School of Geophysics, which was provided with a foundation on which subsequent generations of researchers built some of their models. In this context Dr. Roman's contribution was recognised by the Senate of the University of Bucharest, which elected him an Honorary Professor and his International expertise in the field of Energy and Natural Resources was called upon being nominated a Personal Adviser of the President of Romania.
Taking into account the above achievements, I welcome the initiative of the Director of the Geological Institute of Romania, Professor Gheorghe Udubasa, corresponding member of the Romanian Academy and the editing work of the Scientific secretary, Dr. Ing. Serban Veliciu, to publish Dr. Roman's PhD thesis in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of Earth Sciences.

Acad. Prof. Dr. Mircea Sandulescu,

Head of the Romanian Academy's Geonomic Section

Volume 02 - Preface:

It is to the credit of the Geological Institute of Romania that Constantin Roman’s PhD thesis had been published in the Romanian Journal of Geophysics and I applaud this significant initiative. Constantin and I were contemporaries at Cambridge and I know that he had never forgotten his beginnings. This sets him apart, as an eminent ambassador of his native Romania, of which we find ample proof in the pages of his scientific and literary work. After the fall of Ceausescu, these qualities were rewarded in Romania, where he was made a Professor Honoris Causa and Personal Adviser to the President of Romania. This overdue acknowledgement was apparent from the outset to a host of distinguished British ‘worthies’, who knew Constantin since his student days in Cambridge and who championed the Roman cause celebre as a just and excellent one. Most prominent amongst them was Lord Goodman, Master of New College Oxford and adviser to British Prime Ministers Arnold Goodman was impressed with Constantin as a young man of "impeccable character and absolute obduracy, reflecting an attitude of mind which has clearly developed from strong moral factors". More to the point, Lord Goodman was persuaded that Constantin was "clearly determined to belong here and make a significant contribution to our national life".

On reading Constantin’s PhD dissertation, I can say, without fear of contradiction, not only that Constantin has discharged himself brilliantly of these expectations but that he had the merit of bringing to Plate Tectonics new models and concepts (in the Carpathians and Central Asia) which are still valid today. In particular, his definition of plate boundaries in the continental lithosphere and the introduction of the concept of "non-rigid" plates or "buffer" plates, which are now called "continuums", are still widely used. Few paid attention to his iconoclastic publication in a popular science journal ("New Scientist") and in a short letter to the Geophysical Journal in the early 1970’s but the concept withstood the test of time. If Roman’s subsequent career as exploration adviser to Shell, BP, Exxon and a myriad of other major oil companies made him a world-wide expert in basin analysis and a successful oil finder, this was to our great loss in Academia. Predictably, Constantin’s geodynamic studies, much praised by his clients in Industry could not be published, for proprietary commercial reasons. This does not make him any less remarkable, as suggested by his Cambridge supervisor and mentor Sir Edward Bullard, when he enjoined: "Of course, it must be a wrench for you to leave Cambridge and take on wider responsibilities. If you want at some future time to come back to academic work, then no doubt you will be able to". Perhaps Constantin had never forgotten Bullard’s prophesy and now he had come back to the fold, (with a flourish), as Honorary Consul in Cambridge. I hope that he also renews his natural links with Academia, where he truly belongs.

John F. Dewey, FRS, FGS
Professor of Geology and Fellow of University College,
University of Oxford

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