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2006 Awards: Citations, Replies

Wollaston Medal – James Lovelock

Even in the illustrious history of the Society’s senior medal, first awarded to William Smith in 1831, it is rare to be able to say that the recipient has opened up a whole new field of Earth science study. But that is the case with this year's winner, James Lovelock.

Lovelock does not lack for honours after his long and distinguished career in science. As well as more lately being created Companion of Honour and Commander of the Order of the British Empire, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, and garnered many awards for his pioneering work in chromatography. Lovelock invented the electron capture detector for gas chromatography – an instrument whose exquisite sensitivity has subsequently been central to several important environmental breakthroughs. For example, during the 1960s it enabled the documentation of widespread dissemination of harmful and persistent pesticides like DDT, and later on the technique was extended to the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Lovelock himself famously used the technique to chart the ubiquitous presence of chlorofluorocarbons – CFCs – in the atmosphere, triggering the discoveries (by Rowland and Molina) of the harmful influence of CFCs on atmospheric ozone – work for which they received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1997. He has also developed instruments for exploring other planets than our own, including those aboard the two Viking craft that went to Mars in 1975, about which I know he will tell us in a moment.

But Lovelock really came to high public prominence for the scientific concept that has captured the imaginations of Earth scientists, biologists and public alike – the concept for which we as geologists chiefly honour him today – the Gaia Hypothesis and Theory. This view of the planet and the life that lives on it as single complex system, in some ways analogous to a homesostatically self-regulating organism, is what has given rise to the field we now know as "Earth System Science", also the most recently formed of this Society's Specialist Groups..

It is hard to over emphasize the unifying nature of this holistic worldview, which has broken down artificial disciplinary barriers that have existed since the late 18th and early 19th Century when Societies such as this were first formed, and the wonderful richness of insight that has flowed from the multidisciplinarity that has followed. This is especially so in the understanding of feedback loops between life and the environment, especially the dimethyl sulphide-cloud albedo-surface temperature (CLAW) hypothesis, and the whole idea that life coupled with its material environment regulates planetary temperature and chemical composition over long timescales by influencing rates of silicate weathering.

James Lovelock, it gives me enormous pleasure to reward this towering career with the highest honour the Society can bestow.

Jim Lovelock replied:

I am deeply grateful to you and to the Geological Society for this generous act of recognition and I sense that today may be an historical occasion that marks the moment when Gaia is at last regarded as a legitimate topic for discussion among scientists. I am not formally trained as a geologist but Gaia has made me an Earth scientist and so I am particularly pleased that the Geological Society is the first senior scientific body in the world to give recognition. Your act in making this award moves me much more than you can know. All of us, as scientists, know that we can never be certain; and all that I ask is that you take the theory as a useful source of predictions and a way of thinking about the Earth, especially now that it and we are in danger.

In the 65 years of my life in science, my role has been to bring separated things and ideas together and make the whole more than the sum of the parts. Curiously the first award I received for doing this was over 40 years ago and from the space agency NASA. They wanted to send to Mars, as part of the Viking spacecraft, a complex instrument made up of a gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer. It was to be used in analysing the volatile and potentially life-characteristic substances in the Martian regolith.

The problem they presented to me was that the whole thing must weigh no more than seven pounds - and this limit left nothing for the vacuum pumps, without which the mass spectrometer could not work. My solution to their problem was to connect the gas chromatograph to the mass spectrometer with a few inches of tubing made of Wollaston’s metal, palladium. Its near magical capacity to pump away hydrogen allowed the combined instrument to function throughout the active life on Mars of the Viking landers. I get pleasure looking up at Mars on a clear night to know that those two pieces of palladium are now part of the Martian landscape. It seems ``fitting to close the 40-year saga of Gaia with a second gift of palladium.


Lyell Medal – Geoffrey Boulton

The Lyell Medal is awarded this year to Geoffrey Boulton, Regius Professor of Geology and Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh.

Geoffrey Boulton is one of the most influential Earth scientists of his generation, achieving an enormous scientific impact through his body of widely-cited papers and in recent years through his work as an adviser on science policy in Westminster, in Scotland and in Europe.

He began to work on glacial geology and glaciology in Svalbard, with Brian Harland’s expeditions, in the 1960s, which led to new understandings of how glacial sediments are deposited. Through work in this and many other polar and alpine regions, and in areas of ancient glaciation in North Africa and Arabia, he has striven to understand the coupling between glaciers and the geosphere, and the role of ice sheets in the climate system and its evolution. The result of this has been a groundbreaking contribution to his subject, as he carried all before him in a series of papers (25 of which boast more than 50 citations each) that have substantially altered thinking about glacial sediments and systems and the movement of ice sheets, especially the role of sediment deformation in glacier dynamics. He has also held many influential representative positions in Earth Science, for example, as President of the Quaternary Research Association, as UK representative for IUGG and for INQUA, and as chairman of the NERC Earth Science and Technology Board.

Geoff Boulton has also profoundly influenced research and science policy as a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science & Technology, the Government's top advisory body on science, engineering and technology policy, as a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and as chairman of the Royal Society Committee that produced the report on “Science and Devolution” which led to the creation of a Scottish Science Policy and a Science Advisory Committee, of which he is a member. He is Chairman of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Committee and is currently deeply involved in discussions in Brussels about the creation of a European Institute of Technology and on the issue of nuclear waste as chairman of the Royal Society’s working party.

Geoff was, some years ago, a winner of this Society's Lyell Fund, but has added many more, including awards from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Geological Society of America, the International Glaciological Society, the Swedish Royal Academy, and the French government. He has also received the OBE for his contributions to science.

Geoffrey Boulton, it is a great pleasure to confer upon you the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London.

Geoff Boulton replied:

It is a genuine honour to receive this award, and a bit of a surprise. I practise in areas of geology of which some of the more hoary members of our fraternity hardly approve, although I believe that Archie and James Geikie, earlier predecessors of mine in Edinburgh, would have done, as would the great Charles Lyell. I hope in accepting the award that Billy Wilder’s words do not apply, that “honours are like haemorrhoids; if you wait long enough, every asshole gets one!”

Charles Lyell is a hero of mine, and nothing could please me more than an award bearing his name. Some few years ago, in the Departmental archives, we found a copy of a letter that had been send by Jamieson, Regius Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh, to de la Beche, the then President of the Geological Society, telling him that “I have just received from young Charles Lyell, two copies of his new book”, which was The Principles of Geology the great geological text of the 19th Century. “An amusing little book”, Jamieson wrote, “but not what geology needs”. If your going to get it wrong, get it really wrong! It reminds me of a comment by Peter Medawar, another hero, who received a Nobel Prize for immunology, when he said: “We all have colleagues whose minds are so full of the means of refutation, that not a single original idea can enter in”. In other words, keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out, and never in science, utter the word "never".

The reason I came into geology was that as a young lad, all I wanted to do was climb mountains. But as many of us do, I owe a great deal to a particular schoolteacher, Tom Purcell, a former stalwart of the GA, who channelled my passion and persuaded me into geology; and to Fred Shotton, Frank Moseley and Russell Coope, who drove some sense into me at Birmingham. After graduating, and finding the disciplines of line management in the Geological Survey irksome, I decided that I needed to be self-employed. But concluded that the best way to be self-employed was to join a university, and Wolverson Cope at Keele - a delightful man of broad sympathies - gave me an undeserved way of doing so. Well, it worked; and it still does. For notwithstanding encroaching bureaucracy, of which I am part, essential freedoms still remain, and most of my young colleagues combine terrifying professional competence with an inspiring sense of uninhibited freedom and creativity, commitment to education to their students and the pursuit of new knowledge that is quite inspiring to an old lag. So thank you Ian, Mary, Nick, Patience, Hugh, Matt et al.

But the scientific framework has changed greatly. We now recognise the magnitude of the human assault on the planet, the biggest challenge that society and science together have faced. Having spent 200 years taking the Earth conceptually apart and analysing the bits, we now have to put it together again, understand it more as a whole, and understand our role in this new geological epoch, where humanity is as powerful a geological agent as the oceans or the ice sheets.

In doing so we need to work with many other disciplines, and although we need to retain the capacity as empirical scientists to gain new knowledge through observation, rather than merely sitting in front of a computer screen, we must refrain from asking the question “what is geology?”, which only results in putting a defensive palisade around us. We should just follow the science, and gain our pleasures from, as Mark Twain, another splendid amateur geologist, put it, from a “science that gives such a wholesale return of speculation from such a minimal investment of fact”.

Murchison Medal – Brian Kennett

Professor Brian Kennett is without doubt one of the leading seismologists of our day and indeed of any day.

For more than 30 years, Brian has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the structure and dynamics of the deep Earth, as well as to our understanding of the fundamental nature of seismic wave propagation, and geophysical inverse theory. The impact of these contributions may be measured best by his over 200 publications, some of which have received over 500 citations. Brian Kennett’s research has covered a very wide range of topics in seismology from exploration work with seismic reflection to the free oscillations of the Earth, and has developed Earth models that are now standard in many applications e.g. earthquake location.

Brian's seminal research has also culminated in several authoritative textbooks that he has published with amazing productivity since the 1980s. His first, on theoretical seismology summarized the state of the art as it was in 1983 for seismic modelling in stratified media – and was largely based on theoretical work by Brian and his students in the 1970s. In 1991 Brian compiled the IASPEI Seismological Tables, the first modern replacement of the classic but outdated Jeffreys-Bullen Tables. His 2001-2002 two volume work “The Seismic Wavefield” provides a broad perspective on observational and theoretical studies. Brian has been President of IASPEI, and editor or associate editor of a number of international journals including the Geophysical Journal International and Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. These duties, taken with his published contributions, clearly indicate his deep commitment to the global seismic community.

Brian Kennett is now Professor of Seismology at the Australian National University in Canberra but he is remembered fondly by his many graduate students from Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the AGU, a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences and a pioneer of the linkage between deep Earth seismology and regional geology.

Brian, it is my great pleasure to present you today with the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London.

Brian Kennett replied:

It was with considerable surprise and great pleasure that I received the letter from the President announcing the award of the Murchison Medal.

Although I have had a long time interest in the nature of the Earth, I little thought when I graduated in theoretical physics that I would some day receive a medal from the Geological Society of London.

The path here has been through unravelling the complexities of seismic wave propagation in three-dimensional media and their relation to structure, though both theoretical and observational studies. Work on marine seismic refraction on the southern end of the Rekyjanes Ridge from Cambridge in 1977 was a good preparation for the physical and logistic challenges facing work in the deep outback of Australia.

In 20 years of effort with deployment of portable stations across the whole continent, exploiting the regional distribution of earthquakes, we have made a good start on developing a “geology” of the continental mantle and an understanding of the link between the mantle lithosphere and the overlying crustal elements. Alongside this it has proved possible to probe the deep earth and by exploiting multiple images from seismic tomography gain insights in physical processes responsible for Earth heterogeneity, especially for subduction zones and their deep extensions.

Some 30,000 km of driving across the Australian Precambrian, with numerous small excavations, including one in the Murchison range north of Alice Springs, has given me some first hand acquaintance of “hard rock geology” as required for this medal!

The program of seismic exploration of a continent and the globe has involved many people working often in uncomfortable conditions. I would like to thank all those whose efforts have contributed to gaining fresh insights in to the nature of this wonderful Earth, as well as to my family for their support and encouragement.

William Smith Medal – Stephen Foster

The William Smith Medal, awarded to excellence in applied geology, goes this year to hydrogeologist Stephen Foster.

Stephen has made a number of significant contributions to hydrogeology, groundwater development and protection. Early in his career at the British Geological Survey, his studies of the Chalk (Britain's most important and possibly most vulnerable aquifer) had an international impact on the way we understand and model recharge processes, pollution hazard and resource evaluation in fissured aquifers. His subsequent work in the vanguard of research on diffuse pollution by fertilisers and pesticides and on subsurface microbiology, which continued during his 10 years as BGS Chief Hydrogeologist and Divisional Director, has had a lasting impact on groundwater protection policy.

Stephen has also led overseas projects and research, beginning with work on groundwater development in arid regions and more recently in urban areas where degradation of groundwater is a major issue. Southern Africa, Latin America and South Asia have benefited from his work there. In the last 5 years he has acted as a senior adviser to the World Bank and produced lucid and informative guidance notes aimed at policymakers and opinion formers.

Stephen Foster, President of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, you are a strong advocate of the value of applied geoscience as a foundation for environmental, water resource and engineering decision-making at national and international levels, and it gives me great pleasure to award you today the William Smith Medal of the Geological Society of London.

Stephen Foster replied:

I have a strong empathy with the life of William Smith – having spent the first 10 years of my career (at least) trying to make myself useful at the engineering-geoscience interface, and discovering some fascinating things along the way. He was (in effect) the first to recognise the importance of hydrogeology to the practice of land drainage, engineering construction and municipal water-supply – and in this sense especially it is an honour and a pleasure to accept a medal struck in his memory.

This award is an opportunity to thank in public the many people who have encouraged or stimulated me down-the-years – most had an association with BGS Hydrogeology at Wallingford, the UK Groundwater Forum or the Global Water Partnership. I would mention especially David Gray, Dick Downing, John Barker, Howard Headworth, Andrew Skinner, John Chilton, Judy Parker, Adrian Lawrence, John Mather, Adrian Bath, David Grey, John Briscoe, Karin Kemper and Alan Hall. In addition an enormous thank you goes to my wife, Francisca, for her tolerance of extended absence (an ‘occupational hazard ‘for partners of professional geoscientists) and to my daughter, Vivien, for teaching me some economics.

As one of the brigade of British water-sector specialists whose main work is now distant from this island, I am warmed and motivated by receiving recognition from the traditional home ( I almost said ‘high temple’) of geoscience. In my work with the World Bank I spend a lot of time trying to persuade leading development economists and infrastructure engineers of the need for, and the return on, investment in scientifically based groundwater resource management and protection – and of the close association between sustainable groundwater development and energy efficiency, food security, public health and environmental conservation. In effect trying to put geoscience at the centre of the global development debate –which is I suspect a common cause of us all.

I receive this award as a representative of the growing community of professional hydrogeologists. IAH (the worldwide association of groundwater specialists) is celebrating its 50th anniversary and as current President I bring best wishes to the ‘mother of all geological societies’ as she approaches her 200th. We have come a long way from the original task of finding water to the much more complex business of managing and protecting the water resource base, so that it can support the long-term needs of society and environment.

For this purpose we should be proud of (but not constrained by) our geological roots – and conscious that the sustainable management of groundwater resources is really about managing people (water users and potential polluters). In the IAH we are delighted with the passage of the new EC Water Framework Directive & ‘Daughter’ Groundwater Directive (for which we were an important consultee) – they put groundwater under the environmental spotlight.. For their implementation we will need (individually and collectively) to face the multidisciplinary challenge of being be more active on the policy, regulatory and economic fronts. I know that our ‘daughter organisation’, the Hydrogeological Group of this Society, is facing the same challenge and am sure that you will give them maximum corporate support and encouragement in this regard.

Thank you for your attention and for your generosity.

Coke Medal – Michael Bassett

The second of this year’s Coke Medals is awarded to Professor Michael Bassett, Keeper of Geology at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Mike is a distinguished palaeontologist and stratigrapher - currently the President Elect of the Palaeontological Association – who, over a career spanning 40 years, has published over 150 papers and made major contributions to our understanding of the early evolution, phylogenetic relationships, functional morphology, ecology and classification of Palaeozoic brachiopods worldwide. He is also a considerable authority on the evolution of sedimentary facies, especially in the Palaeozoic of the Welsh Basin and Baltoscandia.

Mike Bassett has been a prominent contributor to the work of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, the Palaeontological Association, the Palaeontographical Society, the Geological Curators Group, the Royal Society, Geologists' Association South Wales Group, the Stratigraphy Commission, the International Commission on Stratigraphy, and other parts of the International Union of Geological Sciences. Through his museum work (and the occasional foray into television) Mike has also played a significant role in the promotion of Earth science within Wales.

Mike Bassett, previous beneficiary of the Lyell and J B Tyrrell Funds, it is my great pleasure to award you today the Coke medal of The Geological Society of London.

Mike Bassett replied:

Diolch yn fawr iawn. I am quite sure Mr President that, from your days in Swansea, you will recognise that as Welsh, which you will have translated immediately as my thanks to you for your very kind words.

On occasions such as this, it is of course impossible to thank all the people and organisations that have been so influential and helpful over many years. But, even so, some hold a particularly special place. My university days at Swansea were especially happy, where I spent far too much time playing rugby football for the University, but somehow managed to get a PhD. And at Swansea I became involved in the Ludlow Research Group, which was, and still is, an amazingly influential body whose informal status and loosely knit membership belies the huge influence that it has had on Palaeozoic stratigraphy throughout the world. In the 1960s especially, emanating from that Group, working mostly in the U.K. on Silurian rocks, came the basis for global definition and correlation of chronostratigraphical units and their boundaries, which were to lead eventually to those principles being applied by the International Commission on Stratigraphy of the International Union of Geological Sciences, to the whole of the geological column.

There are equally other places and people that have been similarly influential. My involvement in the International Commission on Stratigraphy as Secretary General, and briefly as the Acting Chairman, came at a time when all the stratigraphical sub-commissions were being formed and it was a huge learning curve to be involved in such work, involving the definition of global standards – standards and procedures that are still utilised today.

My long love affair with Scandinavia has seen me spend long periods of sabbatical leave at the University of Uppsala and at the National Museum in Stockholm. And these regular excursions continue today, working with many close friends. Sabbatical leave at Emmanuel College, Cambridge was equally rewarding and more recently my involvement in building biogeographical models across the palaeocontinent of Gondwana has led to yet further stimulating associations with colleagues at the University of La Plata in Argentina and the University of Kerman in Iran.

You have also mentioned, Mr President, the promotion of geology on a public scale, which has been equally rewarding, in conjunction with my colleagues in Cardiff. Building large temporary exhibitions is a certain way of having fun and involving very large audiences, especially children. Your mention of promoting geology via the media, and especially television, allows me to assure you that this medal will hold equal pride of place in my study at home - alongside my two Blue Peter badges.

And finally of course, in Cardiff, to the National Museum and to the many friends and colleagues with whom I have worked for almost 40 years. A marvellous institution of culture and intellect, a wonderful place to work, and I regard this award in no small way as equal recognition to the combined contributions and support of all my colleagues, especially of course in the Department of Geology.

President, un waith eto, diolch yn fawr dda iawn – once again, thank you very much.

Coke Medal – Marjorie Wilson

The first of the two Coke medals to be awarded this year goes to Professor Marjorie Wilson of the University of Leeds.

Marge Wilson's research, pursued since graduating with a doctorate from Leeds in 1976, focuses on the petrogenesis of continental and oceanic intra-plate magmatism and its relationship to mantle and lithosphere dynamics. She also investigates magma migration at volcanic continental margins using 3D seismics and the role of mafic magma recharge in the triggering of volcanic eruptions. She is currently studying the post-collisional magmatism of the Tibetan Plateau, using trace element and Sr-Nd-Pb isotope data to characterise the role of sediment subduction and the geodynamic evolution of the Plateau. Throughout her career the emphasis of her research has been to develop a holistic understanding of the geodynamic setting of magmatism in a particular region by integrating petrological and geochemical data with geophysical and field data. This has led to significant developments in the understanding of magma generation processes, mantle structure and deep Earth dynamics.

With over 50 research papers and a major textbook Igneous Petrogenesis, as well as her role (since July 1994) as Executive Editor of the Journal of Petrology, Marge Wilson is a worthy recipient of the Society's Coke Medal - which it is my pleasure now to bestow.

Marje Wilson replied:

It is with great pleasure that I accept the award of the Coke Medal from the Society.

When I began my career in Geology in 1970 at Oxford University (firmly against the advice of my headmistress and various wise men from the coal and hydrocarbon industries who considered that this was not a subject for a woman) I had no idea where it would lead. Looking back over the past 36 years, of course I now know the answer – to some of the most remote and most beautiful volcanoes on Earth.

A number of people have helped me on my journey. During my undergraduate years at Oxford, Harold Reading, Stuart McKerrow, David Bell, Keith Cox, Steve Richardson and Roger Powell deserve special mention. Subsequently, a Masters’ degree at the University of California, Berkeley, provided an opportunity to learn from Ian Carmichael, Hal Helgeson and Frank Turner. Back in the UK in 1974 Henry Emeleus of Durham University convinced me to study a Precambrian nepheline syenite intrusion in Greenland for my PhD – a diversion into the plutonic underworld to which I have never returned (but which taught me a great deal). I then went to Leeds in 1975, where I have remained, working my way up from post-doc to professor.

I will not get drawn into a long list of colleagues with whom I have worked in the past 30 years. They know who they are and how much their friendship is valued. However, I must single out Howell Francis, Derek Fairhead and Mike O’Hara who have provided much valued friendship, advice and support. I would also like to thank Zhengfu Guo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing for introducing me to the magmatism of the Tibetan Plateau.

I have been fortunate to have some really outstanding postgraduate students, particularly Jon Davidson, Hilary Downes, Lizzy-Ann Spencer (formerly Dunworth), Ewan Laws, Rob Patterson and Joaquin Cortes. There was never a dull moment when they were around and I am immensely proud of all their achievements.

Finally, I would like to thank my husband, Alastair Lumsden, for his unfailing support and good humour for the past 16 years. I would not be where I am today without him!

Bigsby Medal - Jonathan Lloyd

The Bigsby Medal goes to Professor Jonathan Lloyd, who leads the Geomicrobiology Group in the Williamson Centre for Molecular Environmental Science at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on the biogeochemistry of toxic metals and radionuclides, and the use of bacteria to remediate radioactively contaminated ground. His interests also include electron transfer in bacteria to mineral substrates and the environmental applications of geomicrobiology.

Jon's work centres on recognising the role of microbes in many of the electron transfer or reduction mechanisms that control the mobility, solubility and bioavailability of metals – including radionuclides. Among his major contributions in this field has been to understand the biochemical pathways by which specialist subsurface metal-reducing bacteria facilitate the reduction (and hence immobilization) of uranium, neptunium and technetium in the geosphere. He has recently branched out into the study of the role of these bacteria in promoting widespread contamination of groundwaters by natural arsenic in South Asia.

Jonathan Lloyd, it is my great privilege to confer upon you the Bigsby Medal of The Geological Society of London.

Jonathan Lloyd replied:

It is with the utmost pleasure that I accept the Bigsby Medal. Although I have always had an interest in the geosciences, my formal scientific training is in microbiology. It is therefore especially gratifying to receive recognition from the Geological Society of London, that the sort of multidisciplinary research that I pursue, which leans heavily on microbiological models, is of interest and relevance to those in the geosciences. In my opinion, some of the most fascinating and profound questions lie at the microbe-mineral interface; from the origin of life to the precise control of modern Earth’s chemistry. The receipt of awards such as the Bigsby Medal, for work across this academic divide is extremely timely and useful, helping justify the importance of geobiology to those who guide university research priorities, and research council initiatives.

My thanks are extended to many who have fostered my interests in geomicrobiology. I am immensely grateful to environmental microbiologists such as Lynne Macaskie, Nigel Brown and Derek Lovley, and more recently to my many excellent colleagues in Manchester, who have helped me put my research into a far more geological context over the last five years; and of course, to the Geological Society of London for recognising a new and important area of the geosciences.

Aberconway Medal – Robert Holdsworth

The Aberconway Medal for 2006 goes to Bob Holdsworth, who has built an international reputation in the field of oblique tectonics (transpression, transtension), fault reactivation and thrust tectonics. His nomination for this award specifically refers to the work he has carried out in the last 5 years, located at the knowledge transfer interface between academe and industry.

Since establishing the Reactivation Research Group in Durham University (where he is Professor of Structural Geology and Head of Department) Bob has moved into research areas of direct relevance to the petroleum industry – from which he now derives a significant proportion of his research funding. The Group, one of the most successful industry-funded university research groups in the UK, are now leaders in the use of onshore structural geology as a way of better understanding subsurface offshore geological problems.

Bob Holdsworth, your leadership in the use of digital technology to capture data and in the creation, from this data, of spatially accurate 3D models directly comparable to those created from 3D seismics, represents a paradigm shift in the acquisition, visualization and analysis of field-based geoscientific data. You are indeed a worthy recipient of the Aberconway Medal of The Geological Society of London.

Bob Holdsworth replied:

I would very much like to thank the Society for presenting me with this medal – it is a great honour. The actor Richard E Grant recently said in an interview that the key to happiness is to make sure that you make a career out of your hobby. This is certainly what I have been able to do and two key individuals have helped me realise this dream. The first – my father, Christopher - nurtured my interest as a boy by uncomplainingly taking me round a succession of quarries and old mines all over the Yorkshire Dales to look for fossils and minerals. The second was my Geology teacher, Paul Hayler who passed on so much of his enthusiasm and, by introducing me to the geology of the Cross Fell Inlier over five days in 1978, completely transformed my life.

As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to be taught at Liverpool where I came into contact with Tony Harris, who later became my PhD supervisor jointly with Mike Coward at Leeds. These two individuals, though very different, had one key characteristic in common: both were inspirational leaders of large, proactive research groups where the team ethic was very much to the fore both in geological and social terms. I would also like to warmly thank Juan Watterson for giving me my first break as a lecturer at Liverpool and Clive McCann for his kindness and support when I moved all too briefly to Reading prior to my transfer to Durham following the Oxburgh Earth Science Review. During my time at Durham, the success of the Reactivation Research Group would simply not have been possible had it not been for a succession of talented PhD students who have had the misfortune to have me shred their research talks, papers and thesis chapters over the years.

Most recently, my lateral migration into the academic – industry interface has been greatly supported by the advice and support of a number of key individuals, many of whom are members of our Durham Earth Sciences Advisory Board (DESAB). Notable amongst them are Andrew Armour, Tony Dore, Phil Christie, Richard Hardman and Steve Matthews.

Finally, none of what I have achieved would have ever occurred had it not been for the help and support of my wife Michele and my sons, Christopher, Thomas, Callum and Daniel. These are the people who have to endure my periodic absences at conferences, fieldtrips etc., despite being baffled by what I get up to (‘Dad, isn’t looking at rocks just little bit sad?’). This award is for them because all geologists need to keep their feet on the ground - at all times.


Distinguished Service Award – John Mather

The Distinguished Service Award this year goes to a true Society stalwart, the distinguished hydrogeologist, geochemist and historian of science, Dr John Mather.

Many will remember John Mather as Lyell professor of Geology at Royal Holloway University of London from 1990 to 2001, but his previous 24 years were spent at the British Geological Survey – latterly as Assistant Director in charge of geochemical and hydrogeological programmes. A Fellow of the Society since 1963, he was a founder member of the Institution of Geologists (1978), and served as its Treasurer and penultimate Chairman prior to reunification.

The act of reunion, which was brought to fruition by John and the then President of the Society Prof. Derek Blundell, successfully overcame deep mutual suspicions among the two organisations' memberships. John was tireless in meeting objections face to face, at meetings all around the UK. The success of the initiative, with the establishment of the Chartered Geologist designation without recourse to a new Charter, clinched the agreement and constituted a major leap forward for the geological profession in this country.

As the first Chair of the Society's Fellowship & Validation committee, John's powers of diplomacy and persuasion were crucial in making the new system work The continued success of the operation today, with well over 2000 Chartered Geologists on our books, stands as testimony to John's foresight, drive, and above all, his charm. John has also been a major pioneer in the teaching of hydrogeology in UK universities, and in encouraging a considerable number of students into the subject - to whose vital importance in our crowded world most people are only just now waking up.

John's work as an expert witness, most prominently during the Sellafield Inquiry - at which he spoke forcibly and persuasively on hydrogeological grounds against the case for the Sellafield repository - emphasized both his great integrity and "grace under fire". His record of service to the Society also includes being a founder member and the first Secretary of the Hydrogeological Group; three terms as a Council member (lately as Vice President with responsibility for regional groups) and the first Chair of the Accreditation Panel.

John, the modern Geological Society owes an immense debt of gratitude to you which I hope it can partially repay by the award of the 2006 Distinguished Service Award.

R H Worth Prize – Jim Bryant

The R H Worth Prize is awarded for the encouragement of amateur geology, and this year it goes to someone who is the paragon of the cheerful and tireless amateur geologist of indomitable character, who amid many unpaid committee duties and responsibilities, selflessly helps others in the creation of collections (especially of Mesozoic and Tertiary fossils from SE England) and willingly puts his knowledge and expertise at the disposal of professional geologists.

The man of whom I speak is Jim Bryant. Jim has pursued a lifelong interest in geology and natural history with membership in a wide range of societies and movements – including the Geologists' Association, the Palaeontological Association, the Palaeontographical Society, the Tertiary Research Group, the Reading Geological Society, the East Midlands Geological Society and the Open University Geological Society. He is also an active worker in the RIGS movement. In many of these organisations he has taken up significant roles, at every level of seniority. He has travelled worldwide in pursuit of his quarry, and continues to travel widely in active retirement.

Without people like Jim, many of our oldest societies would have difficulty in staying alive. In making this award, The Geological Society of London not only rewards its recipient, but pays grateful homage to the selfless efforts of countless enthusiastic amateur scientists all over the country.

Jim Bryant, you cold have been the model for whom the R H Worth Prize was established, and it gives me great pleasure to award it to you today.

Murchison Fund – Dougal Jerram

Dr Dougal Jerram also works at the University of Durham, where he is Total Research Fellow in the Department of Geological Sciences. His work has been remarkable not only for its originality but also for the way in which it has embraced igneous rocks at all scales – from the petrofabric to the Large Igneous Province. One of Dougal's most significant contributions has been his pioneering work in quantifying clustering and spatial distribution of crystals in rocks – vital work in assessing the importance of compaction in generating igneous cumulates, for example. More recently, Dougal has started to research volcanology on a larger scale, as described in a recent issue of Geoscientist, and he is now working on flood basalts and Large Igneous Provinces, sediment/lava interactions, and on 3D modelling of flood basalts and associated basins. Much of this work has attracted the attention of oil companies keen to understand the geophysical implications of flood basalts in the basins under exploration.

Dougal Jerram, you are a worthy recipient of the Murchison Fund of The Geological Society of London.

Lyell Fund – Moyra Wilson

The Lyell Fund for 2006 is awarded to Dr Moyra Wilson from the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University. Her work focuses on understanding equatorial marine carbonate systems and factors affecting their evolution during a period of major global change from "greenhouse" to "icehouse" conditions. Her research has brought her international recognition as the expert on the evolution of carbonate and reef facies during the last 65 million years of Earth history in SE Asia – a region as extensive as it was once poorly studied. Her work there has led to the realisation that carbonates forming in humid equatorial regions have very different characteristics from their better-studied counterparts in arid tropical and subtropical zones. Her work has significantly contributed to understanding the role of tectonics, clastic and nutrient input on carbonate systems and their economic potential as hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Moyra Wilson, for extending our knowledge of these complex, fascinating and economically important rocks, I have great pleasure in bestowing upon you the Lyell Fund of The Geological Society of London.


William Smith Fund – Dr Timothy Wright

The William Smith Fund for 2006 goes to the principal exponent of radar interferometry for tectonic purposes in this country – Dr Tim Wright. Tim is Royal Society University Research Fellow in the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds and in his field – InSAR for short – is one of the leading researchers in the world. Using this highly technical method, and in a field that is highly competitive, Tim has achieved major insights – most notably, identifying the inter-seismic strain signal across the eastern part of the North Anatolian Fault, and across the Karakoram and Altyn Tagh Faults in western Tibet.

Tim Wright, for research of uniform excellence in a field with a huge future, for your intellectual agility an multidisciplinary approach to your subject, you are a worthy recipient of this year's William Smith Fund.

Wollaston Fund – Gideon Henderson

The Wollaston Fund goes this year to Gideon Henderson. Gideon's main interest has been the application of uranium-series isotopes to various geological problems including geochronology, ocean circulation and the mechanisms of climate change – applications that he has termed the "U-series toolbox". Gideon's work, always characterised by extreme care and attention to the complexities of Earth processes, has also done much to elucidate the role of secondary processes such as diffusion and recoil on geochemical proxies and chronometers. This work has enabled dating of new types of geological sample, and new U-series approaches to assess the rates of ocean processes now and in the past.

The timing of climate change, the development of new geological "clocks", the use and modeling of ocean tracers, and the application of stable isotope fractionation of light elements as paleoproxies, have all proved fruitful avenues, and Gideon now directs Oxford University's Isotopes and the Environment Group, with five post-docs and four doctoral students.

Gideon Henderson, it gives me great pleasure to award you the Wollaston Fund of The Geological Society of London.

President’s Award – John Maclennan

The second of this year's President's Awards goes to John Maclennan of Cambridge University, a geophysicist and geochemist described by Dan McKenzie as "one of my brightest research students" - which must count as some of the highest praise around. John commands a wide range of techniques and exploits them in a broad spectrum of geological topics, centring on spreading ridge processes, especially in Iceland. He has recently published papers singled out for especial praise on crustal formation, including heat supply to mid-ocean ridges, the thermal modelling of oceanic crustal accretion, deep magmatic processes under Iceland and the geochemistry of Icelandic extrusives. He has even extended his work to include the control of regional sea-levels by uplift and subsidence as a result of magmatic underplating.

President’s Award – Richard Walker

The first The first President's Award for 2006 goes to Richard Walker, of the Oxford University Department of Earth Sciences. Following a PhD at the Bullard Labs at the University of Cambridge, Richard came to Oxford on a NERC postdoctoral research fellowship in 2004. He has already distinguished himself in a range of influential publications on continental tectonics, applying satellite imagery and remote sensing techniques to quantify the link between earthquake faulting and the landforms it generates, notably in Iran, and is now extending his work to other active regions, in a collaborative research programme with the Mongolian University of Science & Technology.

Citations by Ted Nield and Peter Styles