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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...

Save the bug-pickers!

BugThe world is facing a shortage of micropalaeontologists, and should do something about it, says Alan Lord*.

Geoscientist 22.02 March 2012

Picture: Living planktic foram Globigerinoides ruber, one of the two most important spinose species in warm tropical surface waters. Photo courtesy David Lea, University of California.

Easy to overlook but hard to do without, beavering away unobtrusively on many a petroleum exploration and production borehole you will find a micropalaeontologist. On the basis of the foraminifera, coccoliths or palynomorphs observed in cutting samples, he or she advises the well-site geologist and driller on the stratigraphic level reached, where to set casing points, and so on.

This might appear to be ‘mid-20th Century technology’ but it remains relevant today, especially in the vital monitoring of directional drilling within reservoirs. And yet, in little over a decade, the UK has gone from being a net exporter of trained micropalaeontologist biostratigraphers to having to import them. The prospect of a looming global shortage makes even that option less viable in the medium term. A letter from Dr Haydon Bailey FGS in the January 2012 Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB) Newsletter painted a gloomy picture of an aging skills pool, the 2008 closure of the last UK specialist Masters programme, and fewer youngsters being trained.


The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) together with PESGB has therefore established an Educational Trust Fund to sponsor graduate students in micropalaeontology with a view to alleviating the problem and to seek industrial funding. The Geological Society strongly supports the initiative, and applauds the launch this year of a new Masters programme at the University of Birmingham.

In recent months GSL, working with CHUGD, BGS, BGA and PESGB, has made representations to government and executive agencies about existing and predicted skills shortages, and the potentially serious negative consequences for the UK economy if they go unaddressed (notwithstanding the reduced level of central funding provided to higher education in general). The Society will continue to point out the contribution geoscience makes to the national economy, and to make the case for a degree of special treatment for certain ‘significantly important and vulnerable subjects’ such as micropalaeontology, geophysics and hydrogeology.

*Professor Alan Lord is Secretary, Foreign and External Affairs.