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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...

Two new book reviews


The Geology of Thailand

Geoscientist 22.02 March 2012

This is a weighty tome; yet in 1980, when I first visited Thailand, it could not have been written. Its content reflects the huge amount of work that has taken place within the last 30 years. The book brings to an international audience material that includes work published by Thai geoscientists in conference proceedings and national publications hard to locate elsewhere.

As the editors state, research on Thai geology has been facilitated by the welcome given by the Royal Thai Department of Mineral Resources to those wishing to collaborate with Thai geoscientists. Knowledge of the geology of Thailand has benefited tremendously from petroleum exploration and production, both onshore and offshore. Of the 26 authors, all experts in Thai geology, only nine appear to be Thai, contributing to 10 of the 21 chapters. Each chapter is copiously referenced, and many Thai geoscientists will find their work well described when it is appropriate.

The book is well structured, dealing with the major stratigraphic units in a logical order, followed by sedimentary mineral resources (petroleum, coal), then igneous rocks, and metalliferous minerals. It is intriguing to see chapters on regional geophysics and tectonic evolution at the end of the book; but there is constant reference beforehand to the structural framework that has shaped this country’s fascinating geology. So, the narrative sequence works. Then, as a final flourish, a chapter on tektites reminds us that Thailand lies within the Australasian tektite strewn field.

Highlights include the illustrations, which stir the imagination. Where else will you find a photograph of a petrified tree 72.22m long? Or of charred wood in situ in a laterite profile, tortoise shell weathering in Cretaceous sandstones, or images of the Buddha outlined in gold on a quarry face? Notwithstanding this there are some disappointments - I had hoped to see the chapter on granite include the detailed geochemical information that has been won over recent years, but this is mentioned with no presentation of data. Scarce mention is made of the potash deposits in the Cretaceous Maha Sarakham Formation, which is also disappointing given current world prices and demand.

These misgivings aside, reading a book that integrates the geology of a country so effectively has given me ideas for a future research project - an important bonus. And if the idle reader has time to spare, he or she can play ‘spot the difference’ by comparing the cover photograph with Figure 1.4; uncannily similar, but not identical.

Reviewed by David Manning

THE GEOLOGY OF THAILAND by M F RIDD, A J BARBER & M J CROW (eds) Published by: The Geological Society. Publication date: 2011 ISBN: 978-186239-322-6 (hbk); 978-186239-319-6 (pbk) List price: £100.00 (hbk); £50.00 (pbk) 626 pp


How to get expelled from school: A guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters

This book is billed as a guide to kids and mentors; but there is perhaps a sub-text in the title, with Ian as the one who got ‘expelled’. Since writing Heaven and Earth (2009) Plimer and his supporters have suffered many attacks. This book finds him unrepentant and brings character references from former long-term Prime Minister (John Howard, Liberal Party) who launched the book in Sydney, and President Vaclav Klaus (Czech Republic) who writes the Foreword - telling indicators of content.

Two critical events have occurred since Plimer’s last book. First, only one Australian MP was elected in the last Federal election on a ‘carbon tax’ platform; Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Labor) famously stated that she would not introduce one. Nevertheless, Australia now has a punitive carbon tax. The Federal Government justifies the u-turn by appealing to science and a “consensus” that is not much in evidence when senior Australian scientists Bob Carter, Garth Paltridge and Ian Plimer question the integrity and quality of much climate science and the Australian Institute of Geoscientists pointedly refuses to have a climate-change policy. Then there was the weather. Despite predictions of “fry and die” drought, the Eastern States suffered months of flooding. So, in addition to a drought-justified carbon tax, Australians now have an income tax surcharge to pay for flood damage.

The ABC News website presents “Expelled” as an “anti-warmist manual”, but Plimer is very pro-warming. Citing the Roman era, the Middle Ages and the period to 1998, he argues cogently that civilisations flourish in warm periods, while cooling yields famine, disease and decline. In the final chapter, Plimer makes 101 points, all (except for four political points and two ‘science encyclopedia’ questions) being basic, logical science in a style familiar to any practising geologist.

“Why did the Medieval warming happen when there was no heavy industry?” “How do we check independently the computer models of anthropogenic warming when the raw data and code are not public?” I searched for answers but, with the notable exception of the Geological Society of London and its recent publications on volcanic CO2, found few direct counter-arguments.

I believe this chasm is not just political; it is one of science method. Climate activists are impressed by computer output derived from datasets collected by others, and don’t want to hear pedantic questions about data validation. In contrast, Plimer’s science is “old fashioned” - based on logical questioning, hypothesis-testing and scientific principles.

Plimer has clearly learnt from his opponents: the book puts political implications first and has only a few references, hidden at the back. Occasionally, he plays the man rather than the ball and repeatedly points out that, while geologists in the resource industry report subject to legal codes, no similar code exists for ‘public policy’ science - despite the fact that public policy science has budgets of billions of dollars. I doubt if Plimer needs to be re-admitted to school; but science and politics need him for his tenacity, clarity and critical analysis.

Reviewed by Julian Vearncombe

HOW TO GET EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL: A GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE FOR PUPILS, PARENTS AND PUNTERS by IAN PLIMER Published by: Connor Court. ISBN: 978-1-921421-80-8 (pbk). 250pp List Price A$29.95,