Tannatt Edgeworth David

(28 February 1858 to 28 August 1934)

Edgeworth David appearing gaunt and strained during an expedition.
Edgeworth David was the leader of the first party to reach the South Magnetic Pole

Nationality and profession

Welsh-born Australian Antarctic explorer and geologist


  • 1886, discovered coalfields in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales
  • 1907, joined Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition
  • 1908, lead the first successful ascent of Mt Erabus, Antarctica's only active volcano
  • 1909, lead the first expedition to the South Magnetic Pole

Born in Wales, David migrated to Australia in 1882 to work as a geological surveyor. He was appointed as Professor of Geology at the University of Sydney in 1890, although he continued to devote much of his time to undertaking fieldwork.  

Three BANZARE expeditioners at the South Pole
First at the South Magnetic Pole - left to right: A Forbes Mackay, T W Edgeworth David, D Mawson
Photo: Edgeworth David
His love of geology and glacial processes prompted David to join the Shackleton expedition in 1907. It was on this expedition that David received worldwide acknowledgement for leading the first successful ascent of Mt Erebus, Antarctica's only active volcano. David also led the first team to reach the Magnetic South Pole on this expedition. This epic journey saw David, accompanied by Douglas Mawson and A.F. Mackay, manhaul sleds more than 1200 miles.  

On his return to Australia, geology continued to play an important role in David's life. He continued as a Professor of Geology until 1924, subsequent to which he produced a comprehensive summary of Australian geology, published in 1932.

This page was last modified on September 29, 2010.