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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).

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Climate Change Statement Addendum

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Cracking up in Lincolnshire

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Critical metals

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Déja vu all over again

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Done proud

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Earth Science Week 2014

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Fookes celebrated

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

Geology - poor relation?

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Nancy Tupholme

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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

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'Help your obituarist'


Geologist and Science writer Nina Morgan provides some tips on how not to be forgotten

Geoscientist 22.03 April 2012

: Sir Roderick Murchison, by Stephen Pearce

Each month a notice appears in Geoscientist encouraging Fellows to deposit their biographical material with the Society in order to help their obituarists ‘ensure that the Fellow’s lives are accorded appropriate and accurate commemoration’. Although a similar notice was not included in an equivalent members’ magazine in the early days of the Geological Society, this exhortation seems to have been one that Roderick Murchison took very seriously.

According to Murchison’s biographer, Archibald Geikie, ‘For many years he [Murchison] was in the habit of keeping a record of the events which he witnessed, or in which he took part. In the belief that the story of his life might have some interest and usefulness for those who should succeed him, he used now and then during his later years to devote his spare hours to the task of reading over his early journals, and superintending their transcription.’

Not only that, but once Geikie accepted the job of biographer, he found that ‘there existed a vast mass of miscellaneous letters and papers going back even into the last century. It appeared that Sir Roderick for many years of his life had never destroyed any piece of writing addressed to him, - notes of invitation to dinner, and acceptances of invitations given by himself, being abundant among the papers.’ Combine that with Murchison’s correspondence generously furnished by the original recipients, including geologists Charles Lyell and John Phillips, and you have a truly voluminous amount of information. It must have taken Geikie considerable time to read through it all, let alone, digest and organise it. But it was certainly time well spent. The resulting obit ran to two volumes and more than 400 pages.

Before you too feel tempted to swamp your future obituarist with materials documenting every aspect of your professional life, bear in mind that no matter how illustrious your career or how monumental your achievements, your obituary in Geoscientist will never run to more than 500 words!

* Nina Morgan is a geologist and science writer based near Oxford.


  •  The source for this vignette is Life of Sir Roderick I Murchison based on his journals and letters by Archibald Geikie, In two volumes, John Murray, London, 1875
  • If the past is the key to your present interests, why not join the History of Geology Group (HOGG)? For more information and to read the latest HOGG newsletter, visit:, where the programme and abstracts from the Conference on Geological Collectors and Collecting are available as a pdf file free to download.