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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...

Fossilised fungi in the deep biosphere

New discoveries in Eocene subsea cores extend the realm of the fungi into the deep biosphere, suggests Joe McCall

Geoscientist 22.06 July 2012

Fungi fossil
Picture:  Fossil fungal hyphae in amber. Picture: Alexander Schmidt, University of Göttingen.

Richard Fortey’s Survivors 1 is a book full of fascinating detail. In it, the author perceptively remarks: “the origins of fungi do indeed root back to the time of the stromatolites when the single-celled protists began to diverge into their several kinds”. Fungi are indeed the elusive kingdom, since they do not normally fossilise at all - though there is a single example in amber (picture), and from the Rhynie Chert. They certainly originated in the Proterozoic, but opinions differ between ~2 billion years and 750 million years: the former seeming more likely, now that eukaryotes have been recognised confidently in Gabon at ~ 2100Ma2 . The first fungi undoubtedly dwelt in the sea1, though logically they must have colonised the land before the first plants.

Hitherto, it has been assumed that only prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea, single celled) occupy the deep biosphere beneath the sea floor, conditions being too rigorous for other than such extremophiles. However, now fossilised filamentous organisms have been found in drill core through sub-sea floor basalts in ODQ 157 at the Emperor Sea Mounts, Pacific Ocean3. These fossilised fungi are observed in carbonate-filled veins and vesicles. X-ray tomographic miscroscopy has revealed fungal morphology, while and possible chitin has been detected by staining. This discovery must surely change our conception that the deep biosphere on the sea-floor can only be occupied by prokaryotes.


  1. Fortey, R, 2011. Survivors. Harper Press, 336 pp.
  2. McCall, G J H 2010. The first eukaryotes. Geoscientist 20(12), 12.
  3. Ivarsson, M, Bengston, S, Belivanova, V, Stampanoni, M, Marone, F, Tehler, A 2012. (Abstract) Fossilized fungi in subseafloor Eocene basalts