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2005 Awards: Citations, Replies


Wollaston Medal - Ted Irving

The Society's senior medal, first awarded to William Smith in 1831, goes this year to one of the pioneers of palaeomagnetism whose seminal contributions paved the way to the final proof of the reality of continental drift and subsequently the development of plate tectonic theory - Ted Irving.

Ted Irving was born in Colne, Lancashire but carried out much of his early research in Australia and then latterly in Canada and he indeed holds Canadian citizenship. One could draw a parallel between his peripatetic life and the puzzle of apparent polar wandering that he helped to chart in his early career; but I prefer to draw it with his scientific migration from an original grounding in classical geology into my own subject - geophysics.

Ted's name is forever associated with those of palaeomagnetism's pioneers: men like PMS Blackett and Keith Runcorn. Runcorn and Blackett began their collaboration in Manchester, but when Runcorn moved back to Cambridge in the early 1950s he hired a young recently graduated field assistant called Irving. Blackett himself moved to Imperial alongside HH Read, and it was these two groups, at Cambridge and Imperial, who were the two poles of this exciting new magnetic field.

Using a new and extremely sensitive magnetometer perfected by Blackett, Ted began to make measurements on sedimentary rocks from the UK. Jan Hospers' palaeomagnetic measurements had shown that averaged over the last 15 million years the ancient magnetic field agreed very closely with a dipole magnetic field aligned along the Earth's axis, the 'Geocentric Axial Dipole' hypothesis. However, Ted's measurements from Torridon showed marked angular differences between their preserved fields and the axial dipole. This could only be explained by either a movement of the magnetic pole or by a considerable movement of the continent bearing the magnetised rocks. During his time at Cambridge, Ted also showed that magnetic measurements on rocks from India suggested that it had moved some 6000 kilometres and rotated by some 30 degrees.

Everyone realized that polar wander curves, first drawn by Creer, were either 'real' or 'apparent', but it was Runcorn, Creer and Irving who realised that you could resolve this by comparing coeval curves from different continents and that you could calculate from these curves the past latitude variations of continents. If they were different, it meant it was our continents, and not the poles, that had been wandering, just as the early drifters like Alfred Wegener, Alex du Toit and Arthur Holmes had been saying all along.

Irving left Cambridge for the Australian National University in Canberra. Here he founded what was perhaps the world's most influential palaeomagnetic research group, and where he began to compare polar wander paths for Australian North America, India and Europe. They were distinctly different. By 1956, Irving was arguing that this proved the continents had indeed moved. Irving's APW curve for Australia effectively decided the debate in favour of drift.

Although this argument based on polar wander curves convinced palaeomagnetists, complete acceptance by the global geological community had to wait for a considerable time and required the incorporation of another important palaeomagnetic phenomenon on which Irving worked, magnetic reversals. Irving, who had discovered reversed magnetization in rocks from the Torridonian of Scotland, was involved in this from the beginning, and in its resolution. Detailed studies of both igneous and sedimentary rocks eventually allowed the establishment of a magnetic reversal timescale, and thus eventually to the idea of Vine, Matthews and Morley, of how sea-floor spreading at ocean ridges creates the now familiar zebra pattern of normal and reversely magnetized strips of ocean floor.

Continental drift was real; reversals were real, and seafloor spreading clinched it and together they underpinned the new Paradigm of Plate Tectonics.

Ted Irving continued to make fundamental contributions to palaeogeographic reconstruction, and published the classic textbook Palaeomagnetism and its application to geological and geophysical problems in 1964. This book marked the new subject's coming of age, and it is still the reference that palaeomagnetists have to hand.

In a long and distinguished career, and in over 200 publications, Ted Irving has influenced his subject at the fundamental and applied level. I am told that through his application of ancient latitude to hydrocarbon occurrence, Ted has influenced the exploration strategies of many Canadian oil companies - though he modestly denies any knowledge of this. He has been a keen and considerable gardener since he was 13 , and is an expert on the rhododendrons and magnolias, not only their culture but also their fossil and palaeogeographic history.

Ted Irving, it gives me enormous pleasure to reward this towering career with the highest honour the Society can bestow, the Wollaston Medal.

Ted Irving replied:

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted, honoured, and, after reading the list of previous recipients, not a little humbled to receive the Wollaston Medal. Today I want to acknowledge the help and good luck that I had during my earliest research years.

Out of the blue in June 1951, came a letter from Dr Keith Runcorn asking if I was interested in collecting rocks for studies of the ancient secular variation of the geomagnetic field. I had no idea what the secular variation was, but said yes anyway. We met in Kendal and headed for Scotland. Keith knew no geology, but Professor Phemister of Aberdeen had recommended the Torridonian. We proceeded to Loch Torridon and selected a rocky knob, Craigrianan, said to mean "Sunny Rock". I took several large slabs of fine-grained red sandstone.

We returned through Manchester, where P M S Blackett had agreed to my using his highly sensitive magnetometer. Soon we found that "Sunny Rock" was magnetized in a direction miles away from that expected if Scotland had not moved. Not everyone agreed, but we had stumbled on a new physical signature of continental drift - very long-term latitude change. We forgot about Precambrian secular variation. Ken Creer and David Collinson were recruited, and we (mainly Ken) built a Blackett-style magnetometer in Cambridge.

Keith was not an experimentalist, and was best kept away from the lab. He obliged by spending long summers in the United States. Ken, David and Jan Hospers (who was doing brilliant work in Iceland) together with Johnny Clegg and colleagues at Imperial College, worked hard, managing most of the time not to get in each other's way.

Ken raced through the Paleozoic, linking results Ian and Johnny had obtained from the later Phanerozoic and those I had obtained from the Late Proterozoic, and in 1954 he constructed the first apparent polar wander path. Paths were needed from other continents, and with support from John Jeager at the Australian National University, we obtained that for Australia confirming continental drift.

These were fluid even chaotic years. No-one was really in charge, although some may have thought they were. Out of this disparate group of workers (to which I should add the name R A Fisher who created our statistics) came the procedures for drawing ancient latitudes and eventually the general framework for the palaeogeography of Earth's surface features. Were it not for the help and encouragement from this group in the early 1950s I would not be standing here today.

I thank The Geological Society for this honour. I personally think of it as recognition of a body of work on this general theme carried out by many workers over the past half century.

Lyell Medal - Michael James Benton

The Lyell Medal is awarded this year to Dr Mike Benton of Bristol University. Mike Benton is an extraordinarily energetic palaeontologist and science communicator. Mike's career began as a vertebrate palaeontologist where he made important early contributions to our understanding of the archosaurs and rhynchosaurs of the Triassic period, to which he applied the then revolutionary cladistic analysis.

Mike returns to this subject from time to time but has since broadened his studies to include major extinction events from the end of the Palaeozoic, showing that there were two distinct extinction episodes within the Triassic. In this broad work of synthesis, he has been helped (as have many other scientists worldwide) by his enormous compilation Fossil record 2, which involved the work of dozens of fellow specialists to compile a massive database of fossil occurrences that has proved a highly fruitful source of information about the nature of the fossil record, and patterns of evolution and extinction within it. In all his subsequent research he has displayed a flair for innovation that shows no sign of running out of steam.

Mike Benton has the reputation of doing everything he attempts well. In addition to his academic work, he has somehow found the time to write many popular and award-winning books on fossils and the fossil record, many of which have led to major TV series including Walking with Dinosaurs. He has also argued persuasively for the uniqueness of each mass extinction event (no periodicity) and for an exponential (rather than equilibrial) model for the diversification of life, at least on land. His textbook Vertebrate Palaeontology is a teaching standard and has already run through several editions and languages.

Mike Benton, it gives me great pleasure to honour, with the Lyell Medal, one of those rare individuals whose scientific work is matched by his efforts to bring the excitement of science to a wider public.


Murchison Medal - Christopher Scholz

Christopher Scholz, of the Lamont-Docherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, has been a dominant figure at the interface between rock mechanics and earthquake seismology. He has combined the laboratory study of friction and brittle deformation with observational seismology and is as widely respected in one field as the other, and able to talk to both communities in equal standing. As a result he has had a major influence on both by being the key person who brings them together.

His research involves studying a seismogenic system in it entirety, studying the behaviour of rocks in the lab and combining this with observational field studies and theory of earthquakes. His work is physics-based rather than regional, but the faults he selects for study are global in extent. However this work has involved him recently in working in Ethiopia, Malawi, Iceland, California and even New York.

Scholz's early work (at MIT) on microfracture growth underpins our current understanding of how rocks behave up to failure and beyond. His work also pioneered our understanding of frictional wear, debris accumulation, and how this can be applied, appropriately scaled up, to the way real faults work. This has greatly added to our understanding of earthquake occurrence, its cyclicity, and the continuing (and very practical) problem of why some faults creep while others remain locked for long periods.

Chris Scholz, your fruitful interdisciplinary approach, your consistent excellence, and your great textbook Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting mark you out as an outstanding scholar. It gives me great pleasure to bestow upon you the Murchison medal of the Geological Society.

Christopher Scholz replied:

Mr. President, colleagues and friends, I would like to thank the Society for bestowing upon me the great honour of the Murchison Medal.

Growing up in California, I was greatly impressed, at the age of nine, by experiencing the surface wave train of a large, distant earthquake. More shocking to me were the absurd answers I got to my question: "What's an earthquake?" Small children often ask simple, but deep, questions which baffle adults who fob off on them some superficiality, hoping that their attention will soon shift elsewhere. In this case, it stuck: I am still asking this question.

I first arranged to be trained in hard rock geology at the University of Nevada. Whilst there, I investigated two fields that seemed promising as an entry into the study of the physics of earthquakes: structural geology and seismology. Both seemed unsatisfactory: the first seemed mainly about geometry, the second about waves. I was not interested in descriptions, but in the underlying physics.

Fortunately, I discovered the then obscure field of rock mechanics, and went off to MIT to study under Bill Brace. In my formative three years there, I concentrated on learning the mechanics of materials. Then, after a year at Caltech to learn something about earthquakes, I settled at Lamont, where there were plenty of earthquake seismologists that I could learn from, without having to become one.

My approach to the study of earthquakes and faulting has always been from the standpoint of the rock. How does the rock behave? But one also has to understand the observations of geologists, seismologists, and geodesists. In the early part of my career such people did not speak to one another, so it was difficult to live in this multidisciplinary vacuum. Now, I am happy to say, there is a thriving field of earthquake physics that incorporates them all.

I have always worked with small teams, and there are many colleagues and students whom have greatly contributed to the work that we have collectively done. To them, I give my thanks, and to my wife Yoshiko, who has supported me so strongly over the last 20 years.


William Smith Medal - Robert Knipe

The William Smith Medal, awarded to excellence in applied geology, goes this year to Rob Knipe of the University of Leeds, whose contribution to applied geology has been truly exceptional.

Rob Knipe has probably done more to weld academic and industrial geology together than anyone of his generation. He has created and managed Rock Deformation Research Ltd., a University spinout that occupies the middle ground between academe and industry. This innovative company takes an empirical and modelling approach to structural problems and the prediction of fault behaviour. Their detailed and multidisciplinary approach is underpinned by outstanding science and is hugely respected within the industry.

For the last 25 years, Rob has been researching the physical and chemical behaviour of rocks during deformation, and has pioneered the use of microstructural analysis and its integration into larger-scale tectonic evolution.

At Leeds University, RDR makes a huge contribution; not only by being one of the UK's largest employer of structural geologists (over 20 geoscientists on the payroll) but also by the continuous cross fertilization between itself and the School of Earth and Environment. Despite the demands of his industrial work, Rob has published over 80 papers, supervised over 25 PhD students and maintains a deep commitment to training industry personnel.

Rob Knipe, you are indeed a worthy recipient of the William Smith Medal of the Geological Society.

Rob Knipe replied:

Thank you, Mr. President, Fellows and Ladies and Gentlemen. It is indeed an honour to receive this award - thank you.

As always an individual's recognition is never from a solo achievement. In my case many people have contributed and helped with my involvement with structural geology. I would not have engaged with deformation studies without; Bill Fitches enthusing me as an undergraduate at Aberystwyth, or the structural geology group at IC in the mid 70's (Neville Price, Ernie Rutter, John Cosgrove, and Rick Sibson and Stan White) giving me the detailed foundation in deformation mechanisms and structural geology I needed.

Probably the greatest influence on my structural geology was Mike Coward - sadly no longer with us, but Mike's drive, ability, insight and need to integrate everything on all scales at frequent intervals was inspirational.

You mentioned the RDR group that I have created in Leeds and the links we have forged with industry. The driver for that was the unique opportunity to use the phenomenal data sets industry collects (from seismic to core) as a platform to integrate structural geology to understand faulting processes, deformation and flow processes.

The challenge was, of course, to solve the problems industry presented to us, knowing that they would rapidly test our suggestions. We have been happy to help own the faults in the industry, and it turned out to be great way to do science.

This would not have been possible without the support and trust of a large number of people in industry. The result has been consortium projects, joint academic - industry programmes and exchanges, that have highlighted the benefits of close collaborations.

I thank all those in industry, and all at RDR who have helped with this adventure.

Also, I would like to acknowledge those at Leeds, Howel Francis and Jim Briden for giving me a job in 1979, and Joe Cann, and Bruce Yardley for support while we grew.

Rick Groshong published a statement I once made at a conference in N. America that 'Rocks do not suffer strain - they enjoy it'. I am glad to say I still enjoying understanding that enjoyment.

Once again Mr. President - thank you.


Coke Medal - Michael Brown

The second of this year's Coke Medals is awarded to Michael Brown of the University of Maryland.

For more than 30 years, Mike Brown has been an outstanding leader in metamorphic and tectonic geology. His work, which began on the Cadomian and Variscan belts of Brittany, has greatly furthered our understanding of how heat and mass are transferred within continents, correctly identifying the importance of melt in the tectonic evolution of orogenic belts.

Since his work in France, Mike has broadened his reach, and has worked all over the world, including investigating granites in Greenland, quantifying metamorphic P-T-time paths in the Appalachians, studying mass transfer during contact metamorphism in South Africa, and where I personally have interfaced with him, working on the relationship between granites and tectonics in the Andes in Chile. Although he cut his teeth on anatectic rocks, Mike has broadened out into research into ultrahigh temperature and high pressure granulite metamorphism in India and Brazil, and the origin of paired metamorphic belts in Japan, and at scales ranging from the microstructural (using 3-D visualization techniques to investigate melt flow in migmatites) to the orogenic (developing models for the ascent and emplacement of melt, and investigating feedback relations between melting and deformation).

Mike has also distinguished himself through his service to the science, and his willingness to participate in national and international scientific bodies. I should not fail to mention his service to the Council of this Society, and the fact that he proposed and founded the Metamorphic Studies Group. He also founded the respected Journal of Metamorphic Geology, which he continues to edit after more than 20 years. He is now in his fourth term as Chair of the Department at Maryland, one of the eastern USA's strongest in Geology.

Mike Brown, please accept with our esteem the Coke Medal of the Geological Society of London.

Michael Brown replied:

President, Fellows of the Society, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is an honour and a privilege to be recognized by this, the Geological Society, and I thank Council for the award. After reviewing the list of illustrious recipients of the Coke Medals, I am especially conscious of what an honour it is to join this group.

I had an unusual school background culminating in A-levels in French, Geography and History! This largely predetermined my choice of University, since by the age of 18 I had decided to follow a career in Geology rather than Geography. At the University of Keele I was able to blossom in Geology due to an enthusiastic staff who promoted a challenging attitude to education and emphasized both laboratory and field work. In the weak job market of the early 1970s I was fortunate to receive an offer to teach structural geology from the fledgling Geology Group at Oxford Brookes University (formerly Oxford Polytechnic), and from there I moved to the Headship at Kingston University in 1984 (formerly Kingston Polytechnic), and to the University of Maryland as Professor of Geology and Department Chair in 1990.

Although I am primarily a petrologist, my research interests span the fields of structural geology and tectonics on the one hand and geochemistry and geochronology on the other, and my research is applied to understanding crustal behaviour during orogenesis. I worked on migmatite petrogenesis for my PhD and I have stayed with high-temperature metamorphism ever since. During my career I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit extraordinary outcrops of lower crustal rocks that are blessed with natural beauty, incredible geological complexity and sometimes great antiquity. I have interacted with many wonderful people with diverse skills, and enjoyed as colleagues a succession of excellent graduate students and post docs. I accept this award in full knowledge that in reality it reflects my many interactions and collaborations with others, without whom I could not have succeeded and without whom I would not be here today receiving this award. I thank all of them all for their generosity in exchanging ideas and educating me.

I enjoy the support, encouragement, and friendship of many colleagues, far too many to name here. However, without the loving support and tolerance of my wife Jenny, and our children, Matthew, Thomas and Sarah, whose birthdays I have missed on more occasions that I care to admit, I could not have achieved but a small part of my accomplishments.

What have I learned after more than 30 years in University education? I think it is important to have as broad an educational background as possible so as to adapt to the changing demands of research or the profession, but this must be combined with an adequate fundamental underpinning in the physical sciences, in particular, and increasingly in computational science and mathematical modelling. However, there remains, I think, the necessity for at least some of us in the geosciences to have a solid grounding in fieldwork.

I thank you Peter for your kind words, those colleagues who nominated me for this award, and once again the Society for the award.

Coke Medal - David Gwyn Roberts

The first of the Society's two Coke Medals goes to Professor David Roberts (Royal Holloway, University of London).

Dave Roberts, who worked for 22 years in BP and became Chief Geologist and General Manager for Frontier and International Exploration, is one of the pre-eminent global regional geologists of his generation - a fact borne out by his continuing appointment as Distinguished Exploration Adviser to BP Exploration since 1998. The fields in which he has worked encompass marine geology and geophysics where we first met while working on the Gulf of Aden, sequence stratigraphy and basin analysis, as well as tectonics.

His pioneering work (done while at the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences in Southampton) on the structure of the Rockall Plateau and Bay of Biscay, integrated seismic studies and deep-sea drilling results. This work shed new light on the early opening of the North-East Atlantic and the evolution of volcanic and non-volcanic rifted margins, and was enormously influential in the modelling of continental rifting and passive margin development.

Dave Roberts is a widely sought-after and inspirational keynote speaker at international conferences and was the founding editor of the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology. In his "retirement", which actually brings four jobs with it (at Royal Holloway, the Southampton Oceanography Centre, the Institut Francais du Petrole and NERC Council) he has embarked upon perhaps the greatest challenge of his career - a book under the daunting title of Principles of Phanerozoic Regional Geology. We look forward to it with great interest but in the meantime, Dave Roberts - please accept with our congratulations the Coke Medal of the Geological Society of London.

Dave Roberts replied:

President, Fellows, Ladies and gentlemen; I am very honoured to receive and accept the Coke medal of the Society and to follow those more illustrious colleagues previously honoured by the Society

I began my career in volcanology and was fortunate enough to join the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences at the inception of plate tectonics when knowledge of continental margins as well as the tools to decipher their structure and stratigraphy - most notably seismic were in their infancy. The theme of ocean margins, sedimentary basins and their petroleum systems has been very much central to my career.

In the early 70's, more modern equipment fortunately became available thereby allowing a first description of the margins around the Rockall Plateau and Bay of Biscay. George Deacon and Henry Charnock generously gave ship time even to the stormy waters of Rockall and the fog of the Grand banks in a way which would not be possible today.

It was a seminal time. Much stimulating discussion with Bert Bally, Peter Vail Joe Curray and many others helped develop the ocean margin drilling programme. It was a real pleasure to collaborate with Lucien Montadert of the IFP on the structure and the Biscay margin and to observe for the first time tilted and rotated fault blocks in 4500m water depths. This work laid the foundations for the first passive margin drilling in the Bay of Biscay and on the Rockall Plateau.

Later the margin work was extended to map major sediment dispersal patterns along continental slopes some of which were characterised by the meandiform channel patterns that are today major exploration targets in deep water Tertiary basins.

However, it was not to last. Despite its innovation, the Rothschild report on funding of government research was seized on by unimaginative government departments as an opportunity to cut funding in earth sciences. The oil industry had long beckoned as a better place to practice and apply modern concepts of ocean margin dynamics. Luckily BP or I should say David Jenkins took me on to head the new basin studies group.

Working at BP has been a privilege notwithstanding the trial and tribulations of low oil price, mergers etc. BP is a very open learning and listening exploration company focused on excellence in geoscience. It has been a pleasure to learn much geology from many colleagues while working with them in different parts of the world. I would like to acknowledge my debt to colleagues both with BP and formerly of BP.

By no means least, I would like to mention Marine and Petroleum Geology. The journal to which you should all subscribe was founded on the recognition that there was no European publication dealing with petroleum related geosciences. I persuaded the Society and Butterworth's to form an alliance and MPG has now been published for over twenty years latterly under the imprint of Elsevier. It is a pleasure and a continuous learning experience to edit the journal. Learning also means sharing and it is a pleasure to be able to do this through Visiting Chairs at Royal Holloway, IFP and Southampton Oceanography Centre.

Mr President, Fellows, Ladies and gentleman, in conclusion, I would like to thank the Society for honouring me with this award. In accepting this award, I am doing so on behalf of my colleagues whose shared learning has contributed to what I know of geoscience and by no means least my wife Robin and daughter Nikki.

Prestwich Medal - Geoffrey Russell Coope

The Prestwich Medal of the Society is awarded this year to Geoffrey Russell Coope (formerly of the University of Birmingham). Russell Coope is the founder and main exponent of the study of Pleistocene insect faunas, and now in his mid seventies he continues to research and publish actively.

Russell Coope's work has shown that insect species exhibit a remarkable degree of evolutionary stability throughout the Quaternary period in spite of the climates instability at that time. He has demonstrated the usefulness of insect faunas in determining palaeoclimates, using large-scale changes in species distribution as indicators of frequent, rapid and intense climate changes. Together with his colleagues he has developed the "Mutual Climatic Range" method of quantifying past thermal climatic conditions based on insect assemblages.

Coope's approach has always been staunchly multidisciplinary, and is now universally adopted as the norm. And, as the number of published insect faunas has increased, so has their utility in biostratigraphy, in which Coope has shown how they may be used to distinguish different interglacials. What has emerged from his work on the terrestrial record is a clearer impression of the complexity of the Pleistocene climate.

Russell Coope, your chosen field has now established itself as an indispensable tool and you are a worthy recipient of the Prestwich Medal of the Society.

Russell Coope replied:

First of all I wish to express my gratitude to the President and to the Society for the honour of awarding me the Prestwich medal. On looking through the previous recipients of this medal I noticed that in 1954 it was awarded to my old prof and friend, Fred Shotton. I am reminded of my interview with him, also in 1954, for a Research Fellowship in the Department of Geology at Birmingham University. Having been given the post, I rather naïvely asked Fred what research programme I was expected to pursue. The reply was as typical as it was unexpected; "You have just been given three years' funding, now it's up to you how you spend it". That was the golden age and what idyllic days they were!

Shortly afterwards I happened, entirely by accident, to visit a Quaternary gravel pit in which were exposed the spectacular bones of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and bison. Looking at their sediment matrix I was amazed to find enormous numbers of equally spectacular, if somewhat smaller, insect remains. I was hooked instantly! This was the start of a programme of research into Quaternary insect remains that led, quite unexpectedly, to the evolutionary, stratigraphical and palaeoclimatic insights that the President has so elegantly summarised. Particularly exciting to me was the fact that these insect fossils showed that Quaternary climates had changed abruptly. Thus, at times, fully glacial climates gave place to temperate interglacial conditions within the span of one human lifetime. My view of uniformitarianism was stretched almost to breaking point.

I have often pondered on the probable fate that an application for research funds to work on Quaternary insect fossils would have received in those early days. It was neither main stream Geology nor respectable Entomology; highly unpredictable and unlikely to contribute much to the nation's wealth or public well being. I can imagine all sorts of criticisms that would have been levelled against it from all sides, providing ample excuses for its rejection. May I, therefore, make a plea for more support for funding of speculative research, in particular in the areas of overlap (or preferably offlap) between the old established scientific disciplines. Today, Geological science operates increasingly in a multidimensional landscape where huge areas of yet uncharted territory are waiting to be explored. All that is needed is more imagination and a greater emphasis on venture funding.

Finally, I would like to record my thanks to all my friends, students and specialists for their past and continuing assistance. To the stratigraphers I am grateful for the unravelling of the immense complexity of Quaternary geology; to the geochronologists for putting precise time scales on my climatic events; to all those entomologists who have identified, amongst my fossils, remote and exotic species often to my, and to their, considerable surprise. It is a great pleasure to be able to acknowledge their essential contributions. But most of all I am most grateful to Fred Shotton who in 1954 had enough faith in me to say "now it's up to you".

Finally, let me say again that I am greatly honoured by the Society for the award of this splendid medal, for which I thank you all very much indeed.

Bigsby Medal - Jonathan Blundy

The Bigsby medal goes to Professor Jonathan Blundy (University of Bristol).

Jon Blundy is an outstanding Earth scientist who has made major contributions to experimental and theoretical igneous geochemistry. In the last 10 years, Blundy has carried out theoretical geochemical modeling and experimental work that has put him at the forefront of those researching the partitioning of trace elements into magmatic melts

His theoretical work on the partitioning of trace elements based on the elasticity of lattices opens the door to an integrated model of mantle melting - the dominant process in planetary differentiation, and one of our subject's highest research priorities.

In addition to the mantle, however, Jon has turned his attention to volcanoes and how they work. He has collaborated on understanding the Mt St Helens eruption of 1980, concentrating particularly on the dynamics of magma ascent, and putting forward the idea that depressurization plays a much more important role in crystal formation than hitherto realized, challenging long-accepted views of magmatic differentiation in large chambers.

Jonathan Blundy, for your work on the Earth's deepest and dangerous secrets I have great pleasure in awarding you the Society's Bigsby medal.

Sue Tyler Friedman Medal - Ursula Bailey Marvin

Born in Vermont in 1921, within sight of a spectacular range of mountains, Ursula Bailey Marvin received a BA in history from Tufts College, Massachusetts, which also required her to complete two years of science. An introductory course in geology ultimately determined the direction of her academic career. Unable to major in the subject because the Department Head would not accept women, she fitted in enough geology and math to win a scholarship to Radcliffe to do a Masters in geology. It is this unique combination of trained historian and geologist that sets Marvin apart from historians who "socially construct" the history of geology, and geologist-historians whose prime commitment is to their science.

Following several years in Brazil and Angola, where she and her husband searched for ore deposits, Marvin was offered a research post at Harvard to study the mineralogy of the meteorites in the Harvard collection. This work developed into a cooperative project with scientists at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and in 1961 she was invited to join the SAO staff. There, she became part of a small group of scientists chosen by NASA to study the lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. She obtained a PhD in 1969, based on the many significant papers she had written. In 1978 she was the first woman to join a U.S.A.-led expedition to collect meteorites in Antarctica. She returned there for two more field seasons. Due to the breadth of her interests, she has both an Asteroid and an Antarctic Nunatak named for her.

An early convert to continental drift, despite Harvard's stance on the subject, in 1973 she published her seminal book Continental Drift: the Evolution of a Concept. Marvin was observing and recording the history of her science, almost as it happened. But her real mark in the history of geology has been made with her work on the history of meteorites and impact structures - a field she has essentially made her own. She has shown how the study of meteorites and other bodies in space has transformed them from astronomical to geological objects, which in turn has changed geology from an Earth-centred science to one that is planetary-wide.

Marvin has done much to popularise her science, as well as advancing the cause of women in science. She cultivated the global community by serving two terms as Secretary-General of the International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences. Over the course of her career, she has written or co-authored more than 180 research papers and, although she retired in 1998, she continues to produce major papers on historical subjects every year. She has been a force in the history of geology that few manage to emulate, and is therefore a worthy recipient of this medal and the admiration and gratitude of this Society.

Ursula Marvin replied:

Thank you, very much. Last winter, when I opened the letter informing me I was to receive this medal, I replied that I was astonished and thrilled - in equal proportions. I still am - even more so, now that I am here with all of you. I am particularly pleased with this honor because, as you have heard, I began serious research on the history of geology rather late in my career.

The period from the 1960s through the 1980s saw two spectacular advances in our knowledge of the Earth, and I was fortunate enough to experience both of them and to place them in their historical contexts. In 1966, I was focusing my attention on the mineralogy of meteorites when the Associate Director of the Observatory enlisted me to present a summer seminar reviewing the status of the continental drift hypothesis.

Having been educated at Harvard University, I knew that continental drift was sheer nonsense. But I soon found new materials in the library that said otherwise - particularly the Royal Society's volume from its 1964 Symposium on Continental Drift. In my seminar, I reviewed the pros and cons, evenhandedly, I thought; although some in the audience detected a slight anti-drift bias. But before my written version was due six months later, radiometric dates had been assigned to magnetic stripes on the sea floor, and to matching rock formations across the Atlantic from Ghana to Brazil. This new and very persuasive type of evidence converted me into a drifter.

Later on, the Smithsonian Press asked me to write a book on this subject, so I traced the long history of ideas on the distribution of lands and seas even as I watched continental drift being transformed into plate tectonics - changing Earth science forever.

Meanwhile, the Space Age was transforming the Earth from an isolated body subject only to intrinsic forces, to a planet subject to all the vicissitudes of orbiting in space along a path gritty with interplanetary debris - dust and cobbles falling on Earth every day, larger fragments every year, and huge ones wreaking instant damage on the landscape on rare occasions.

Suddenly, meteorites and the Moon, which had been largely ignored by geologists and astronomers, had become topics of research worldwide. Throughout the 1960s scientists debated whether the Moon, is a cold, primitive planetesimal or a hot, volcanic body, and whether impacting meteorites had been of any importance in cratering the surfaces of the Moon or the Earth. Each hypothesis of lunar origin - earth-fission, lunar capture, simultaneous accretion, a recent accumulation of Earth-orbiting moonlets -- was so unsatisfactory that some observers half-seriously claimed the Moon could not exist, it must be a gigantic fraud or delusion.

In the early 1970s, samples from the Apollo Missions and the Russian unmanned Luna Missions, showed that the Moon is essentially as old as the Earth; it started out hot, lost all its water and volatiles, cooled early, and has been the passive target of impacting bodies ever since. Not only did the preponderance of shocked minerals in the surface materials confirm an impact origin of lunar craters, but a new theory of origin calls for a giant impact between the accreting Earth and another large body to form the Moon, itself.

Impacting bodies have pockmarked the Earth, and left their evidence in shocked rocks and minerals at more than 150 (and counting) sites around the globe. At the Lyell Centenary Symposium of 1975 (my first history of geology meeting), I argued that impacts are demanded by the principle of uniformitarianism. But I changed my mind when I read more of what the founding fathers actually wrote. Missiles from space that instantaneously excavate craters, melt and shock the country rocks, blanket the surroundings with piles of rubble, and disrupt the atmosphere and/or biosphere, never were part of our uniformitarian heritage; which was based on gradual changes by internally generated processes that are observed in operation.

One more advance occurred in the 1980s, when primitive meteorites were found to contain minute mineral grains that had formed in stars older than the solar system. This spectacular discovery showed that our primeval solar nebula was not homogeneous after all, and it forged a new link between planetary science and astrophysics.

In 1973, when the news broke that a Japanese field team had found four different species of meteorites close together on an Antarctic ice field, the first American proposal to search for such concentrations was judged to be: "Ludicrous." Three proposal cycles later, the first U. S.-team located a concentration, and USA-led expeditions have gone there annually ever since. Parties from Japan, the UK, and other countries also have gone, adding well over 25,000 samples to the world's meteorite collections. Most of these are fragments of asteroids, but the Antarctic ice fields provided us with the first meteorites from the Moon, and the first from Mars, to be recognized on the Earth. One of the Martian stones reportedly contains biologic fossils. I don't believe it, but the existence of microbes on Mars seems perfectly reasonable, so we may yet find them in Martian meteorites.

I had to go to Antarctica, so I arranged to join the team in 1978 and again in 1981. That time I shared a tent with a friend, Ghislaine Crozaz, who was then a professor of geochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, where her husband, the late Robert M. Walker, was a professor of physics. I am happy to say that we wound up the season better friends than ever. So this morning, Ghislaine rode the Chunnel train from Brussels to join us here. In addition, I have a second guest, whom I met this morning for the first time: James Normington, at the Inns of Court Law School here in London. He is a close friend of one of my grandnieces, who left Boston a year ago to study veterinary medicine in Edinburgh. On a personal note, I want to extend a hearty welcome to Ghislaine and James for helping to make this event so special for me.

Thank you again for this great honor.


Lyell Fund - Ian Alsop

Ian Alsop, of the university of St Andrews, has already established himself as one of the UK's foremost structural geologists. His PhD research resulted in a great many seminal papers on the structural evolution of the Caledonides of NW Ireland, where he has used the laboratory of the field to test important concepts and hypotheses about how fold nappes and other detachments develop within the mid-crustal portions of mountain belts. Since that time, and through continuing work on the Moine of Sutherland, he has become a leading international authority on the geometric and kinematic analysis of sheath and flow perturbation folds within the mid-crust. Alsop does not confine himself to the mid-crust however, and has done important applied work on the structural evolution of salt diapirs.

Ian Alsop, for this and your work as a conference convener, subject editor of the Journal of the Geological Society and Special Publication senior editor, please accept the Lyell Fund of the Geological Society.

Murchison Fund - Peter Dominic Clift

The Murchison Fund of the Society is awarded this year to Professor Peter Clift of the University of Aberdeen.

Peter Clift carrries out research on the sedimentary and tectonic geology of active plate margins, especially the marginal seas of Asia and the Western Pacific. He has established himself as a leading expert in the sedimentary and tectonic evolution of these regions, and in the links between tectonic and climatic evolution. Earlier in his career he has developed fruitful lines of inquiry involving volcaniclastic sedimentology and the geochemistry of active margins in the Western Pacific, which he continues to pursue today. He is currently studying the role that accretion of volcanic arcs to continental margins plays in creating new continental crust.

Peter Clift has held a number of distinguished visiting appointments at such institutions as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MIT and Texas A&M University. He is also a visiting scientist at the Southampton Oceanography Centre and the University of Bremen. Peter Clift, it gives me great pleasure to award you the Murchison Fund of the Geological Society.

R H Worth Prize - Susan Brown

The RH Worth Prize for 2005 is awarded to a particularly popular winner - Susan Brown. Susan has been Senior Vice President and President of the Geologists Association, and has been one of its most active and effective incumbents in recent memory. Her tenure was distinguished by the energy and flair with which she organized many of the GA's activities, including the Annual reunion, and the attention she has lavished on managing the Association's Curry Fund, but there is little doubt that her most impressive role has been as Chair of Rockwatch, which exists to encourage and stimulate interest in geology among school children (and for which she has worked tirelessly for about 12 years).

When the Royal Society for Nature Conservation recently withdrew its support from Rockwatch, Susan was the driving force in the saving of the organization: managing it, raising other funds for it and developing a sound and sustainable financial structure. She is also involved in RIGS activities and in education, and plays an active role in this Society as a valued member of its External Relations Committee.

Susan, your work in encouraging the enthusiasm of the young - and the not so young - is of inestimable value to our science. It is with great pleasure that I invite you to accept the RH Worth prize of the Geological Society of London.

Distinguished Service Award - Andrew Charles Skinner

The Distinguished Service Award this year goes to one of the most senior and influential geoscientists in the UK, in terms of national policy and regulation with respect to water and the environment.

Andrew Skinner was Director of Environmental Protection for the Environment Agency, and his scientific career has provided the scientific basis from which has been developed a sustainable policy for protecting the UK's groundwater. Thanks to him, the Agency's policy initiatives have grown out of a substantial and research base, and body of reliable data.

Andrew Skinner has made two major, and interlocking contributions to science. He has developed the International Association of Hydrogeologists into a significant voice in global water resource politics, and as the premier global organization of groundwater science. Second, he has established the role of hydrogeology as a crucial element in environmental protection and water resource management in the UK.

He was a founder member of the Institution of Geologists, the foundation of the professional dimension of this society

Andrew Skinner, it gives me particular pleasure to present this Distinguished Service Award to someone who has not only made a worthy contribution as a geoscientist, but has also demonstrated by personal achievement how geoscience can influence wider dimensions of environmental policy. Please accept it with the Geological Society of London's deepest appreciation and gratitude.

President's Awards

Andrew Walker

The first of two President's Awards goes to Andrew Walker of the

Australian National University. Andrew, who completed his PhD at UCL and the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory at the Royal Institution with

Drs. Kate Wright and Ben Slater, used ab initio and molecular mechanics methods to study point defects and dislocations, hydrogen speciation and diffusion in olivine and its polymorphs to explore deformation in the Upper Mantle. Andrew's research continues to use computational mineral physics to address properties of mantle minerals.

Simon Howard Brocklehurst

The second President's Award for 2005 goes to Simon Brocklehurst of the University of Manchester. Simon's short but remarkable career, encompassing

Cambridge, a PhD at MIT supervised by Kelin Whipple, and a postdoc at the

University of Colorado with Peter Molnar and Roger Bilham, has focused on Quaternary landscape evolution. He has employed a novel combination of digital elevation data analyses, landscape evolution modelling, field mapping and cosmogenic isotope dating to examine landscape response to climate change, the impact of tectonic uplift on glaciated landscapes, and cirque development, in the western US, UK, Himalayas and New Zealand. He has demonstrated the key quantitative distinctions between fluvial and glacial landscapes, deduced the major topographic implications of glacial erosion, and pointed the way for future developments in understanding climate-tectonic interactions.

Citations: Ted Nield, Peter Styles