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2001 Awards: Citations, Replies


Wollaston Medal – Harry Blackmore Whittington FRS

The Society’s highest honour, the Wollaston Medal, goes to a man who has become synonymous with the fossil faunas of the Lower Palaeozoic, Harry Whittington.

As a worthy successor to Adam Sedgwick in Cambridge’s Woodwardian Chair, Harry (who retired in 1983) has worked among the rocks and fossils of the Lower Palaeozoic from all parts of the world and has a publications list that rivals the thickness of the Welsh Trough. His famous trilobite papers and monographs with their wonderful photographs, fine drawings and precise descriptions, are models to palaeontologists everywhere.

Harry was not, unlike all his Woodwardian predecessors, a Cambridge graduate, graduating instead from Birmingham University, where he was a student of L.J. Wills. His career has been characterised by a number of long and fruitful North American sojourns. First at the US National Museum, then Yale and (after returning to Birmingham from 1945 to 1950, when Frank Rhodes, later President of Cornell, was his research student), the University of Harvard where he succeeded Preston Cloud as Associate Professor and Curator. Harvard made him full professor in 1957.

Every year of Harry’s career has been in one way or another an annus mirabilis; but surely few can match 1966. For in that same year, two things of great moment occurred. First he was invited to oversee as Group Chairman the re-excavation and description of the Canadian Burgess Shale fauna, first discovered by Charles Doolittle Walcott in 1909. Second, the electors of the Woodwardian Chair, seeking a successor to the great graptolite palaeontologist O.M.B. Bulman, invited him to Cambridge.

These events brought him, and the Burgess Shale investigation’s HQ, to Britain as he and his formidable team of research students (including Simon Conway-Morris and Derek Briggs among others) performed their now world-famous re-evaluation of that unique Cambrian fauna.

Harry Whittington, former Bigsby Medallist, you are not only "Dean of Trilobites", but Vice-Chancellor of the Lower Palaeozoic - and doyen of your profession. It is you who honour us in accepting the Society’s Wollaston Medal.

Harry Whittington replied:

My Lord and President of the Geological Society, ladies and gentlemen.

This award is a great honour, and it is an added pleasure to receive it from an old friend and colleague. I soon realised, in my work on Burgess Shale fossils, that explanatory drawings would be needed as well as photographs, to describe these fossils. This is where Dr Wollaston enters the scene - a late 18th to early 19th Century physician, who practised in London for many years, and made valuable contributions to chemistry and optics. He had a cracked shaving mirror, but instead of throwing it away he puzzled over the refractions and reflections of light caused by the cracks.

This led to his realising that by inserting a prism into a microscope tube, the image could be directed laterally, then down on to paper beside the microscope, and provide a way to draw an accurate picture. In much refined form this is his invention, the camera lucida, which I used to make my drawings.

Professor L J Wills was my first teacher at the University of Birmingham, pioneer in palaeogeography and in study of the concealed rocks of SE England, but also a master palaeontologist. His classic monograph on Triassic scorpions inspired me, not only for its photographs and explanatory drawings, but also for the patience and ingenuity he exercised over 30 years in freeing the bits of scorpion skin from the shale and mounting them.

Wills was followed by a long line of colleagues, notably Dr G. Arthur Cooper of the U.S. National Museum, friends and graduate students who reinforced these lessons, saved me from error and dispelled my ignorance. This award enables me to acknowledge these debts - previously unrecognized in Wollaston's case. He might be surprised to hear that his inventiveness had helped to reveal the so-called Cambrian explosion!

Lyell Medal – Paul Tapponnier

The Lyell Medal goes to a French geologist who for 25 years has dominated the study of Cenozoic faulting in Asia – Paul Tapponnier.

Paul Tapponnier is Director of the Tectonics Department at the Institut de Physique du Globe, in Paris, and has been distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, Pasadena since 1985. Among many other honours, he received one of his Country’s highest accolades in 1991 when he was created Knight of the Legion of Honour.

In the 1970s, Paul Tapponnier was one of the first to realise the huge potential of satellite imagery for looking at active large-scale tectonics. He has exploited that technique with rare brilliance ever since. In a series of papers written with Peter Molnar between 1975 and 1979, he transformed our understanding of Asia’s tectonics. Subsequent fieldwork, only now possible in many of these countries, has confirmed the accuracy of his conclusions from satellite images. His work has set a benchmark of quality and rigour that few have been able to match.

Paul Tapponnier has trained a group of graduate students who are now major figures in their own right, and has been responsible for establishing a school of tectonic geology in France that is admired worldwide.

Paul Tapponnier, please accept with our sincere thanks and admiration, the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London.

Paul Tapponnier replied:

I feel greatly honoured by this award. I have admired Charles Darwin since childhood, and, as a consequence, the views that Charles Lyell - perhaps his most influential mentor - championed. They encapsulate the way in which I have attacked the Asian deformation problem: understand the present-day tectonics in order to venture, step by step, into the past.

In the early days of this enterprise, I was inspired by two leading figures. One, Maurice Mattauer, was probably the first structural geologist to fully embrace global tectonics. To him, every piece of deformed rock had to be understood in terms of large-scale movement. The other, Peter Molnar, taught me the value of focusing on active faulting to gain insight into the kinematics and mechanics of deformation.

The message was clear - look from the big picture down to the outcrop, and examine areas where things are happening fast, today. The 3000km-wide region where India collides with Asia was the place. Where else could one hope to unravel continental tectonics at a comparable scale? Satellite images, whose resolution has increased one hundred-fold in the past 25 years, helped meet this challenge.

It has not been very difficult for me to enrol enthusiastic students in the endeavour. Who would not dream of setting foot in Tibet? Enthralled by the spell of the place and the unique grandeur of Asian geology, they have performed admirably. I am proud of, and thankful for, what we have accomplished together - and of the paths they have now taken on their own. This award also goes to them, and to the many friends who have shared the excitement of adventures and findings across mountains and deserts, or in the laboratory.

Any long-term task requires recurrent stimulus. Thus – last, but not least - I wish to thank several of my British colleagues for frequently challenging our views. This ongoing joust has energised our thinking over the years, and forced new collaborations. Most importantly, it keeps us going back to the field. I hope it will continue.

Thank you Mr. President, and the Geological Society of London, for bestowing upon me the Lyell Medal.

Murchison Medal – Juan Watterson

The Murchison Medal goes to Professor Juan Watterson.

Juan Watterson focused on Precambrian basement rocks of Greenland in his early career. Around 1980 he realised that the ductile shear zones he was looking at were the deep equivalent of faults in the shallow crust, and switched his attention to investigate how faults grow, interact with each other and accommodate upper crustal strain.

Guided by a belief that faults are organised and obey rules that are simple and predictable, he sought to describe them by transparent mathematical relationships. He was among the first to realise that observations of faults that slip to create earthquakes should relate top, and be used to help in understanding how large cumulative offsets can develop on geological faults.

Juan Watterson is responsible for changing the focus of UK structural geology away from folds and ductile strain to faulting. The impact if his work in academic circles and in its industrial application has been enormous. His research group in Liverpool University is a world leader in thinking about how fault arrays develop, and they have produced predictive techniques and packages that are now highly-regarded industry standards. He has been an active member (and a former chairman) of the Tectonic Studies Group, and selfelssly supports the careers of younger researchers.

Juan Watterson, you are indeed a worthy recipient of the Murchison Medal.

Juan Watterson replied:

Thank you Mr President. As an outsider, I thank the Society for the compliment I have received.

In response I am going to say a few words about an aspect of research which, so far as I know, has not been given the prominence that it merits. I refer to the relationship between research and risk, specifically our increased aversion to risk both individually and collectively.

It is axiomatic that research involves risk. I am not talking life or death, but about the risk of failure to deliver positive results. Some research, at least, should be concerned with testing new ideas, even the apparently improbable. Inevitably, some of those ideas will prove to be mistaken or there will be insufficient evidence to overcome the doubts, on occasion the prejudices, of colleagues. I have been fortunate in that throughout most of my time in research it has been possible, although perhaps not always encouraged, for researchers to pursue a ‘bee-in-the-bonnet’ or an outlandish or an unpopular idea. Sometimes these ugly ducklings develop into the swans of our new orthodoxies. Sometimes they don’t.

Changes in research management over the last 15 years or so have made it less likely that individuals will undertake risky research. Regular research reviews and short term contracts mean that only the brave, or the foolhardy, will now risk the possibility of apparently unproductive years pursuing a pet theory. I believe that this change will lead to a decline in our overall research performance. Of course, this cultural change has not been a deliberate one but is, rather, an inadvertent consequence of other (mostly well intentioned) changes in policy so nothing I say should be taken as either support for tenure or opposition to auditing.

The increased aversion to risk to which I have referred has progressed from individual researchers, in whom it is very understandable, to university departments, academic institutions, national and international funding bodies and even, I believe, to industry. It is characterised by a tendency for the avoidance of failure to be seen as more important, or even mistaken for, the achievement of success. That policy may be an effective survival tactic but is a very poor research strategy.

What is to be done? I don’t know. I am ducking the issue by saying that such problems are no longer my concern – but I urge you to make them your concern.

Finally, I want to acknowledge one who took a really big risk by thanking my wife, Barbara, for her constant support and tolerating for almost 40 years the ‘geocentric’ talk of my geological colleagues. 

William Smith Medal – Kenneth William Glennie

The William Smith Medal is awarded to Professor Kenneth William Glennie.

Ken Glennie is a legend. During his distinguished 33-year career with Shell, (which ended in 1987) Ken Glennie straddled the world. He began, in 1954, in New Zealand, working on the Tertiary of the North Island. Then he was sent to the Canadian Arctic and Rocky Mountains for three years’ fieldwork, developing the skills of large-scale helicopter-based mapping that were to bear fruit later.

After the discovery of the Groningen Gas Field, and geologists recognised that desert sedimentary facies of its reservoir, Ken undertook a famous wide-ranging study of ancient and modern desert sedimentary environments, visiting Libya, India, and SE Arabia – as well as ancient examples in the UK and Germany. He has been an authority on the subject ever since.

A major project in the Oman Mountains followed, investigating the relationship between the development of that fantastic range with the foreland oilfields of the south west. That work had far-reaching implications for the tectonic understanding of the Middle East, and of similar fold belts elsewhere.

For the rest of his career, Ken was based in London and The Hague, working on the Rothliegend Basin of the southern North Sea. He helped set up the JAPEC course Introduction to the Petroleum Geology of the North Sea - a subject of which he can be said to be the "Godfather". He remains much in demand as a lecturer on Middle East geology and desert sedimentation. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Aberdeen, where he supervises several research students.

Ken Glennie, master of theoretical and applied, never has there been a more worthy recipient of the Society’s William Smith Medal.

Coke Medal – Harold Garnar Reading

The Coke Medal is awarded to Dr. Harold Garnar Reading

Harold Reading's name is for most geologists intimately linked with the study of sedimentary facies, and with his classic textbook Sedimentary Environments and Facies. This book, thoroughly revised as recently as 1996, was a milestone in the interpretation of depositional environments by facies analysis.

Sedimentology, in particular its applications to tectonics, stratigraphy and economic geology, both in the UK and abroad, has been guided and invigorated by Harold's work over the last 35 years. Through the supervision of some 40 doctoral students from 13 countries, his philosophy has been transmitted around the world as these students, and their students, became leaders in their profession in universities, geological surveys and the oil industry. Through JAPEC and the field-based courses of Sedimentary Research Associates (SRA) he, along with John Collinson and Trevor Elliott, has contributed to the integration of academic and petroleum geoscience.

For 19 years he served the International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS) as Publications Secretary, General Secretary and President, seeing its membership increase 5-fold and extending its influence away from Western Europe to the wider world. In 1999, he was its International lecturer, giving courses in Jordan, India and Pakistan, as well as many countries of Eastern Europe. A Special Publication published in his honour in 1995 was written entirely by his research students and their students.

Harold Reading, former recipient of this Society's Murchison Fund and Prestwich Medal, holder of the Society for Sedimentary Geology's prestigious Twenhofel Medal and the Association of American Petroleum Geologists’ Distinguished Educator Award, it is my honour to bestow upon you the Coke Medal of the Geological Society.

Harold Reading replied:

Thank you, Mr. President, for this award. As an old colleague of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy at Oxford, you have followed, as President, two of my early undergraduates, Richard Hardman and Robin Cocks, whom it is a pleasure to see here today.

Twenty years ago, in acknowledging the award of the Prestwich Medal, I thanked those who influenced my early career and taught me the virtues of field work, especially field mapping, the foundation for any all-round geologist.

I must emphasise that Sedimentary Environments and Facies was not written by myself alone. Unlike the classic texts of Robin Bathurst and John Allen, it was a collaborative effort. Individual chapters were written by others - mostly former students, and colleagues. Without their expertise, the book could never have commanded the authority it did. Authors changed throughout the editions - only John Collinson and Howard Johnson lasting the three editions.

Working with the IAS has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. Run essentially from western Europe by a Bureau consisting of people from diverse disciplines and cultures, I could associate with Poppe de Boer, Bernard Beaudoin, Gerry Friedman, Hans Füchtbauer, Yvonne Gubler, Ken Hsü, Peter Homewood, Finn Surlyk and Maurice Tucker. Meeting twice yearly, for two days at a time, we had plenty of arguments, but they were never acrimonious; tempers were never lost, humour prevailed. Because of the respect we held for each other, however different our views, agreement was always reached in the end. A major purpose of the IAS is the transmission of knowledge to countries where, for economic or political reasons, scientists are cut off from the development of new ideas and concepts. Thus I was able to travel the world to give courses and be taken into the field by geologists, not only from Eastern Europe, but from countries as far apart as Argentina, China, India and Pakistan, whose hospitality I shall always cherish.

To me, the attraction of a university Career is the dissemination of knowledge and ideas. This is achieved not only through papers and books, but through lectures and courses, especially field courses. Only on field courses do we find that mixture of rocks, rain and beer, sun and wine that promotes discussion and cements friendships whether as undergraduates or professional geologists. I shall always be grateful to John Collinson and Trevor Elliott for joining me in the leadership of such courses to the cliffs of Co. Clare, familiar now to many hundreds of petroleum geologists.

On the committee of JAPEC I had a chance to work with Peter Baardsgaard, John Fuller, Ken Glennie, Douglas Hobson, Bob Stoneley and many others. JAPEC courses, and the equally important course books, not only brought to petroleum geologists the latest concepts and ideas, but ensured that academics could participate at low costs. They could gain, as I did, more from petroleum geologists than we ever gave them.

In the past two decades I have been delighted to see how, through such organisations as the Petroleum Group of the Society, the symbiosis of academic and industrial geologists has become normal. Of enormous importance to all aspects of geology has been the acquisition of subsurface data that now gives such realistic 3D and 4D models. Although ultimately such models have to be transformed into rocks, I do want to acknowledge the contribution to our science of drilling engineers and seismic processors, unknown to most of us here today.

Finally, thanks must go to my wife Bobbie and my children, for the suffering of long absences inevitable with a field geologist in the family.


Bigsby Medal - Nicholas Jeremiah White

The Bigsby Medal is awarded to Dr Nicholas Jeremiah White.

Nicky White has made a profound contribution over the last 15 years to our understanding of extensional sedimentary basis through quantitative analysis. He has developed powerful new techniques, making him a principal player in many important controversies.

His main contributions have been in understanding the relations between tectonic processes and sedimentary basins. The influence of, and relations between, fault geometry, extension and hanging-wall deformation, have featured largely in his work. He has studied the ways in which strain is distributed between the crust and mantle, and how this affects basin shape and stratigraphic onlap onto basin margins. He has studied melt generation during the process of basin extension, and how this affects the geometry of basin fill; and he has elucidated the extensional origin of ancient basin margins - like those of the Tethys - using subsidence analysis. He is now pioneering the use of geophysical modelling to extract information about the strain rate histories from basins.

Nicky has recently been involved in large multichannel seismic experiments with the oil industry in a global attempt to understand quantitatively the way that sedimentary basins form, and has brought in over two million pounds in research funding, from public and commercial sources.

Nicholas White, you won the President’s Award in 1992, and now you are a world leader in sedimentary basin research. I am proud to award you the Bigsby Medal, on behalf of the Geological Society of London.

Nicholas White replied:

Lord Oxburgh has just reminded me that we once shared a bedroom (twin) on a fabulous field trip in Nevada. I still have a feeling of sinful indolence upon recalling a Ron who rose at six every morning to go jogging in the cruel and pitiless heat of Death Valley and environs.

I am bowled over by this unexpected honour and I would like to thank three sets of people without whom I would not be here today. First, I would like to thank my parents who insisted that small children spend as much time as possible in the garden, regardless of weather. There I developed an unpleasant but harmless craving to ingest non-nutritious materials such as grass and pebbles.

Instead of sending me to see a `pica shrink', my parents interpreted this nasty habit as a consuming interest in geology. A hammer appeared and my mother’s house is still full of the inevitable junk.

Secondly, I owe an enormous debt to George Sevastopulo at Trinity College Dublin. His enthusiasm, his insistence upon rigour, and his extremely broad range of interests have had a hugely beneficial influence. George arranged a summer job for me with Sefel Geophysical in London, which gave me an invaluable grounding in seismic reflection data processing. He also propelled me into the arms of Bullard Laboratories.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the uniquely stimulating atmosphere at Madingley Rise where, by lazy mental osmosis if nothing else, I continue to learn how to approach problems.


RH Worth Prize – Peter Toghill

The R H Worth Prize is awarded to Peter Toghill.

Dr Peter Toghill, a student of Professor Fred Shotton at Birmingham University, did his research on graptolites and stratigraphy in the Southern Uplands of Scotland – a worthy subject in the department founded by Lapworth.

After working for the Survey and the Natural History Museum he moved to Church Stretton to work with the Extramural Department of Birmingham University*, organising adult education courses in Shropshire. Many of these enrolled large numbers and included local research topics concerned with the conservation of local geological sites for teaching – a theme that was to run through much of his subsequent career.

Peter founded the Shropshire Geological Society in 1979, which has since become a leading player in the national English Nature RIGS Scheme. For many years he ahs promoted the wider public understanding of geology through lectures and field meetings, as well as advising local authorities and museums, and publishing several guidebooks. When this Society set up the Geological Conservation Committee in 1980, Peter served as its first Secretary (until 1985). That Committee has since transformed itself into the GeoConservation Commission, and it owes much to his early work.

Peter has published two guides with the Geologists’ Association, and two books – The Geology of Shropshire (1990), and The Geology of Britain, which appeared to great acclaim last year.

Peter Toghill, your work in promoting our science with the public and with amateur geologists makes you a worthy recipient of this year’s R H Worth Prize.

*now the School for Professional and Continuing Education

Peter Toghill replied:

I feel very privileged to receive this award and particularly pleased that the Society, through the R H Worth Prize, gives recognition to the work done in promoting geology amongst the general public and thereby promoting the amateur study of a subject. I have now spent over 30 years teaching geology to adult education students in Shropshire and the West Midlands and have found the experience incredibly rewarding when seeing people with no previous knowledge of geology suddenly realising the enormous scope of the subject and how it affects all our lives.

The President mentioned how I had followed in the footsteps of Charles Lapworth in the Southern Uplands, but is also worth noting that I also followed another of Lapworth's paths. In the 1890s, as the first Professor of Geology at Birmingham, Charles Lapworth gave extramural lectures for the general public for the price of five shillings for 10 lectures. Today such lectures cost £50.

The President has also drawn attention to my work on the conservation of geological sites for teaching and it is very rewarding nowadays to see so many local geological societies involved with the English Nature's RIGS scheme. Many local geological societies, including my own in Shropshire, although run almost entirely by amateurs, are recognised throughout the country as a source of local geological knowledge and their opinions are sought by local government and national organisations.

In the early days of geology everyone was an amateur, and today these same people who often have learnt their skills in an extramural class, enrich our subject and continue to add, through their own researches, to the further understanding of geology.

In accepting this award I'm aware of the recognition it gives to all the work being done by amateur geologists throughout the country, and those who teach them their skills. Thank you very much.


Wollaston Fund – Dr David Prior

The Wollaston Fund is awarded to Dr David Prior.

David Prior has pioneered the use of Electron Backscatter Diffraction in geology – an electron microscope technique that uses backscattered electrons to determine the lattice orientation where the beam strikes the sample. He has then gone on to use the technique in a wide range of geological and mineralogical context, and his work has had an impact way beyond geology. As a result he has been invited onto the Electron Microscopy Committee of the Royal Microscopical Society.

Prior’s pioneering microscopy has run in parallel with other geological researches, demonstrating that his work has breadth as well as depth. His research on ridge subduction in Chile has provided some of the best evidence for continuing ridge activity within the subduction zone.

David has also been active within this Society, and several others with which he is connected. He has been secretary of the Tectonic Studies Group, and is a member of the committee of the Metamorphic Studies Group.

David Prior, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the Wollaston Fund of the Geological Society.

Lyell Fund – Lidia Lonergan

The Lyell Fund is awarded to Dr Lidia Lonergan.

Lidia Lonergan, who won a President’s Award in 1997, is a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the T.H. Huxley School at Imperial College. She was tempted back to academe from Shell research in 1994, when she was appointed Fina Lecturer in Petroleum Structural Geology; a post she held until I996 when she received her Royal Society Fellowship.

Her early research on the tectonics of the Betic and Rif Cordilleras greatly advanced our understanding of the evolution of Southern Europe and North Africa. But her most important contribution has come recently when, jointly with Joe Cartwright, she published 3D seismic reflection data that show the significance of previously unsuspected polygonal fault systems in the central North Sea.

Most recently she has recognised, again from 3D seismics, the existence of many deep-water sandstone geometries that she believes to be intrusive clastic bodies on the kilometre scale. These have never before been documented, and they may well have enormous significance for future hydrocarbon exploration in sandstone reservoirs.

Lidia Lonergan, I am pleased to award you the Lyell Fund of the Society.

William Smith Fund – Paul Younger

The William Smith Fund is awarded to Dr Paul Younger.

Paul Younger enjoys an international reputation in the field of hydrogeology, in which subject he is now Reader at the University of Newcastle’s Department of Civil Engineering.

During his seven years at Newcastle, Paul Younger has attracted major research grants in support of projects from which has flowed an impressive range of publications. He has researched on subjects as diverse as the hydrogeology of abandoned mineworkings, limestone extraction and water resources, in-situ remediation of acid mine and industrial drainage, the impacts of abstraction on river flows and water resource management on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Between 1985 and 1999 he published no less than 78 refereed papers, and the bulk of those since 1993. He has also edited books and written one on predicting minewater rebound.

Paul Younger, former winner of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology’s Young Author of the Year Award, it is with great pleasure that I present you with the William Smith Fund of the Geological Society.

Distinguished Service Award – Margaret Johnston

The Society’s Distinguished Service Award goes this year to Margaret Johnston.

Margaret Johnston, you have been associated with the European Union of Geoscientists since 1983, when you first helped with the organisation (under my presidency) of the 1985 Strasbourg Meeting.

In 1987, EUG Council created the post of Executive Secretary so that your administrative efficiency and organisational flair could continue to support what has undoubtedly become the most successful international broad spectrum meeting for geoscientists in Europe. Successive councils have, I know, sighed with relief as your amazing energy, commitment and efficiency have guided them through the ever-increasing complexity of that event.

Your unfailing commitment to bring geoscientists together, and in persuading people to attend those meetings and work towards making them the success they are, has been vital. It would not have happened without you.

Margaret Johnston, I am delighted to present you with the Distinguished Service Award of the Geological Society with the grateful recognition and thanks of European geology.

President’s Award – Francis Nimmo

One of our two President’s Awards goes to Francis Nimmo, of the Bullard Laboratories, Cambridge. Francis Nimmo studied for his PhD with Dan McKenzie and has subsequently held postdoc positions in Caltech and Edinburgh. His thesis on the tectonics and magmatism of Venus was spectacular for its breadth and rigour, taking the approach (which he now is applying to the planet Mars) that physics stays the same while individual planetary conditions vary. This approach, like all the best ideas, may seem obvious; but achieving it in the way that you have done requires an enormously broad, mature and quantitative general knowledge of the Earth – truly remarkable in one still so young. Francis Nimmo, your approach to comparative planetology is surely the only sensible one in a game that otherwise lacks rules. It is my pleasure to recognise your great early achievements in presenting you with the President’s Award of the Geological Society of London.

President’s Award – Costanza Bonadonna

The other President’s Award goes to Costanza Bonadonna. Constanza Bonadonna is a physical volcanologist who has just submitted her PhD Thesis at the University of Bristol on Models of Tephra Dispersal. She is currently a Research Assistant at Bristol, but already has extensive experience in her field – notably at the Volcano Observatory in Montserrat where she was responsible for monitoring suspended volcanic ash in relation to health risks. She has acted in a consultative capacity for the UK Commercial Court in a case relating to property damage in Montserrat, and was was invited speaker at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last year in San Francisco. Her undergraduate thesis, which resulted in a paper in the Journal of volcanology and geothermal research demonstrated serious flaws in the methods being used to date tephra deposits.

Costanza Bonadonna, when you graduated in I997 from the University of Pisa, you were described as one of the best students Pisa had ever produced. You continue to live up to that early promise and are clearly destined for great things. It is my pleasure to recognise this fact in presenting you with the President’s Award of the Geological Society of London.