Late Professor K. Kunaratnam

Late Professor K. Kunaratnam



Emeritus Professor in Physics                                                   

Former Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna
Former Dean of the Faculty of Science 
Founder Head of the Department of Physics
Founder Head of the Department of Computer Science

Department of Physics
University of Jaffna
Sri Lanka

BSc(Hons.)(Ceylon), DIC, PhD(London),
FRAS(London), Hon. DSc(Jaffna)

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University Education
PhD, DIC, Imperial College, University of London, October 1960- July 1963
BSc Special degree in Physics, University of Ceylon, Colombo, 1954-1958

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Administrative Responsibility

  • Vice Chancellor, University of Jaffna Sri Lanka, April 1994-February 1997
  • Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Jaffna, January 1977- June 1978, December 1984- March 1988
  • Founder Head, Department of Computer Science, University of Jaffna, (1991-1993)
  • Founder Head, Department of Physics, University of Jaffna, (1975-1985)

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Title of Thesis: Application of digital electronic computers to gravity and magnetic interpretation.

Main Area:Time variations of the geomagnetic field and computer techniques for interpreting magnetic anomalies

Research Highlights:

A variety of computer techniques were devised in this thesis for the interpretation of magnetic anomalies with special focus on the stripe anomalies discovered in the North East Pacific Region by R.G.Mason, the co- supervisor of the thesis. This PhD work formed the starting point for other workers. It was copied by research scientists and institutes with the author’s permission and was described as excellent by eminent geophysicists who used it. In particular the internationally renowned Geophysicist, F J Vine FRS used one of the techniques and the computer programs described in the thesis to analyze the magnetic anomalies associated with some seamounts and discovered conclusive evidence for ocean floor spreading and continental drift. This discovery paved the way for the new theory of Plate tectonics and resulted in a revolution in the Earth Sciences. Another technique for interpreting magnetic anomalies of dykes published jointly with the first supervisor in 1963 is still in use under the name Bruckshaw-Kunaratnam characteristic curves.

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  • K. Kunaratnam, Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics 43, 1289-1294 (1981).
  • K. Kunaratnam, Geophysical Prospecting 29, 883-890 (1981).
  • K. Kunaratnam, Geophysics 47, 266-267 (1982).
  • K. Kunaratnam, ICTP publication No. IC -86-309, (August 1986).
  • K. Kunaratnam, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors 49, 343-349 (1987).

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  • Dr.Hewavitharne Memorial Prize for Physics, University of Ceylon, Colombo, 1958
  • Academic Staff Fellow, Association of Commonwealth Universities, 1971
  • Associate, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy 1986-1993
  • Developing Country Fellow, Royal Society of London, 1988-89
  • Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society, London, elected in 1998
  • Fellow and Chartered Physicist, Institute of Physics, London, elected in 1999
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Jaffna, conferred in 2001

Visiting Appointments and fellowships

  • Visiting Fellow and Lecturer in Geophysics, Department of Geology, University of Durham, UK, Jan1971- Sept 1971
  • Visiting Fellow, Department of Physics, Queen Elizabeth College, London, Oct 1971- Dec 1971
  • Visiting Lecturer, School of Physics, University of Science, Malaysia, Jan- Oct 1981
  • Visiting Fellow and Professor, Department of Geophysics, University of Edinburgh, UK, Oct 1988-Aug 1989
  • Visiting Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, Bullard Laboratories, University of Cambridge, Sept-Oct 1989
  • Visiting Scientist and Associate, ICTP, Italy, 1986- 1993
  • Professor on assignment basis, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, 2001- 2002

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  • International Courses in the Handling of Experimental data, University of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, August 1976 on a UNESCO- UNISIST, ICSU-CODATA travel and subsistence Award
  • Study Visits to North Indian Universities (Calcutta, Benaras, Allahabad, Aligarh, Delhi and Jaipur) hosted by NCERT, India, April 1976
  • Autumn Course on Physics of the Earth, Trieste, Italy on an ICTP travel and subsistence award, Sept-Dec 1977
  • Autumn Course on Physics of Flow in the Oceans, Atmospheres and Deserts, Trieste, Italy, on an ICTP travel and subsistence award, Sept-Nov 1980
  • International Summer College on Physics and Contemporary Needs, Islamabad, Pakistan on an award by the Atomic Energy Commission of Pakistan, July-Aug 1982.
  • Autumn Course on Geomagnetism, Ionosphere and Magnetosphere, Trieste, Italy on an ICTP travel and subsistence award, Sept-Nov 1982
  • Autumn College on Troposphere, Stratosphere and Mesosphere, Trieste, Italy on an ICTP travel and subsistence award, Sept-Oct 1984
  • Course on Seismology and workshop on earthquake prediction, Trieste, Italy as an ICTP associate, 1986
  • Study Visit to Department of Physics, City College of City University New York on leave from ICTP, Oct 1986
  • Course on Computational Physics, Trieste, Italy, as an ICTP Associate, 1988
  • Conference on Electromagnetic induction, University of Exeter, UK on an award by Royal Society of London, August 1989
  • Workshop on Material Sciences and Physics of Non- Conventional Energy Sources, Trieste, Italy, Aug- Sept 1993 as an ICTP Associate
  • Study visit to the Department of Physics, Ohio State University, USA on sabbatical leave from the University of Jaffna, September 1997


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