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Bruce Yardley appointed Chief Geologist

Bruce Yardley (Leeds University) has been appointed Chief Geologist by The Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Chartership news

Chartership Officer Bill Gaskarth reports on a projected new logo for use by CGeols, advice on applications and company training schemes

Climate Change Statement Addendum

The Society has published an addendum to 'Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record' (November 2010) taking account of new research

Cracking up in Lincolnshire

Oliver Pritchard, Stephen Hallett, and Timothy Farewell consider the role of soil science in maintaining the British 'evolved road'

Critical metals

Kathryn Goodenough* on a Society-sponsored hunt for the rare metals that underpin new technologies

Déja vu all over again

As Nina Morgan Discovers, the debate over HS2 is nothing new...

Done proud

Ted Nield hails the new refurbished Council Room as evidence that the Society is growing up

Earth Science Week 2014

Fellows - renew, vote for Council, and volunteer for Earth Science Week 2014!  Also - who is honoured in the Society's Awards and Medals 2014.

Fookes celebrated

Peter Fookes (Imperial College, London) celebrated at Society event in honour of Engineering Group Working Parties and their reports

Geology - poor relation?

When are University Earth Science departments going to shed their outmoded obsession with maths, physics and chemistry?

Nancy Tupholme

Nancy Tupholme, Librarian of the Society and the Royal Society, has died, reports Wendy Cawthorne.

Power, splendour and high camp

Ted Nield reviews the refurbishment of the Council Room, Burlington House

The Sir Archibald Geikie Archive at Haslemere Educational Museum

You can help the Haslemere Educational Museum to identify subjects in Sir Archibald Geikie's amazing field notebook sketches, writes John Betterton.

Top bananas

Who are the top 100 UK practising scientists?  The Science Council knows...


GEO COVER_DEC11JAN12 for web.jpgThis page has been created to facilitate rapid and timely interchange of opinion. Each month (space permitting) a selection of these letters will be published in Geoscientist Online , the colour monthly magazine of the Society Fellowship.

Correspondence strings are listed in the order that they are begun, the most recent string at the top. Within each string, letters are listed with the first letter of the string at the top, and subsequent letters below.

This page contains letters from the current year.  The archive of letters from previous years are accessible by clicking the links to the left.

If you wish to express an opinion, please email the Editor. Letters should be as short as possible, preferably c.300 words long or fewer. You may also write to:

Dr Ted Nield, Editor, Geoscientist, c/o The Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BG.
  • Please note that letters will be edited for publication. This particularly applies to versions  printed in the magazine.  The Editor reserves the right not to publish letters, at his discretion. Writers should submit their letters electronically to ensure rapid publication. All views expressed below are the responsibility of their authors alone.TN

Accurate Basemaps 04 February 2016

Received 02 JULY 2013
Published 04 FEBRUARY 2016
From Russell Corbyn

Sir, In June’s Geoscientist (v. 23.05), Nina Morgan stressed the benefit, to geologists, of accurate topographic base maps.
This stirred memories of my first appointment, from 1949 to 1955, to the Gold Coast Geological Survey.  The Gold Coast (now Ghana) could boast full one inch to the mile cover, thanks to the interest and support of a former Governor (himself a trained land surveyor) some decades previously. 

Not long after arrival in the colony, I found myself supervising a drilling programme designed to explore the site of a proposed dam on the Volta River.  The contoured maps were invaluable and I recall, in particular, sending out my labour force to clear access to an area of interest, a small rise on the far bank wholly covered in dense vegetation.  For several days thereafter, I levelled along cut lines that resolutely refused to reveal the contours I was seeking, until I reluctantly had to conclude that some head office draughtsman, long ago, had used his imagination to fill a space that had escaped the survey. 

Not long after this episode, I asked my Ghanaian field assistant (who, as it proved, had an odd sense of humour) to explain why certain paths on the maps were marked “fit for hammocking.”  As a result, and on his assurance that he had seen hammocks in store at Survey HQ, I put in a requisition for two hammocks, since being carried in this hilly area would undoubtedly improve my efficiency.

HQ’s response was frosty to say the least; they confirmed existence of the hammocks but pointed out that their use had been phased out in the 1920’s; also that the best geologists were the ones that saw the most rocks and that this was best achieved by inspecting the ground over which they walked.  This story got around.

Hubbert's Peak, apples, and oranges 19 January 2016

Received 19 JANUARY 2016
Published 19 JANUARY 2016
From Antony Wyatt

Sir,  Hillis is correct to point out that Hubbert (1956) was predicting peak production, not exhaustion, of liquid hydrocarbons (and not other energy resources), but misses out that he was concerned with what were then considered to be conventional sources.

My understanding is that production from potential sources such as deep water and fracking were excluded from his calculations. To include these unconventional sources in a test of a Hubbert’s predictions seems a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

Dr Antony Wyatt, School of Engineering, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, AB10 7GJ


Hubbert's Peak not even 'correct' 13 January 2016

Received 06 JANUARY 2016
Published 13 JANUARY 2016
From Richard Hillis

Sir, Ragnarsdottir and Sverdrup in their article Limits to Growth revisited (Geoscientist 25.9) stated “Hubbert (correctly!) predicted an exhaustion date for the oil and energy resources of the United States as 1970”.  In fact the 1970 date refers to US liquid hydrocarbons (not other energy resources such as coal and uranium) and is Hubbert’s (1956) predicted peak production, not exhaustion, date. 

strjs Furthermore, and notwithstanding the enormous respect which Hubbert deserves for his body of work, as the figure illustrates, Hubbert’s (1956) prediction of US oil production is far from correct. The “peak resources community” cannot justifiably continue to use Hubbert’s (1956) prediction of future US oil production in support of their views.

Richard Hillis Chief Executive Officer, Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre, Adelaide.