Product has been added to the basket

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...

Distant Thunder - Chat lines

DTAlthough in the early days of geology it was often the men who got the credit, most would acknowledge that they could never have achieved their great breakthroughs without the intellectual, emotional and practical support of a good woman. For those who never married, like the geologist John Phillips (1800 – 1874), first Professor of Geology at Oxford University, it was a sister, Annie, who provided this crucial backup – a fact he was proud to acknowledge both in private and in print.

Picture: Professor and Mrs Buckland and son Frank.  Taken from Elizabeth Gordon's (1894) The Life and correspondence of William Buckland, London: John Murray, p103.

For example, in the 1848 Survey Memoir and elsewhere he credits her with the discovery of a crucial bit of evidence that revealed the origin of the Malvern Hills. But for many others, it was a devoted, well educated and intelligent wife who drove them on their quest for greater geological understanding (q.v. Distant Thunder, Geoscientist 22.01 February 2012).

But in those pre-internet days finding – and wooing – the perfect partner was usually achieved more by chance than design. Some, like Roderick Murchison (1792 – 1871), were introduced to their future wives by friends. Others, for example Richard Owen (1804-1892), first encountered their beloved through work. Owen, a medically-trained anatomist and palaeontologist and the driving force behind the founding of what is now the Natural History Museum in London, met the love of his life when he was called in to treat her for an injury. Still others, like William Buckland (1784-1856), the first Reader in geology at Oxford University, met their life partners purely by chance.

In a journal entry for October 8 1839, the diarist Caroline Fox records how:

“…Dr Buckland was once travelling somewhere in Dorsetshire, and reading a new and weighty book of Cuvier’s which he had just received from the publisher; a lady was also in the coach, and amongst her books was this identical one, which Cuvier had sent her. They got into conversation, the drift of which was so peculiar that Dr Buckland at last exclaimed, ‘you must be Miss Morland, to whom I am about to deliver a letter of introduction.’ He was right and she soon became Mrs Buckland.”

The couple were married on 31 December 1835. A talented artist and admirable fossil geologist, Mrs Buckland proved to be, in the words of Roderick Murchison, “a truly excellent and intellectual woman, who, aiding her husband in several of his most difficult researches has laboured well in her vocation to render her children worthy of their father’s name.”

Although the story of the Bucklands’ first meeting is possibly apocryphal, it does demonstrate the value of a good chat-up line. And although not noted for his sense of humour, the French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) might well have been pleased to know that his book provided such an effective introduction to what became real a marriage of true minds.


Sources for this vignette include: Life of Sir Roderick I. Murchison Based on his
Journals and Letters by Archibald Giekie, John Murray, 1875; Almost more than love, the marriage of Richard Owen and Caroline Clift by Karolyn Shindler, Evolve, issue 6, winter 2011, pp. 57-61; The Life and Correspondence of William Buckland, DD, FRS, by his daughter Mrs Gordon, John Murray, 1894; and John Phillips, The Malvern Hills compared with the Palaeozoic districts of Abberley, Woolhope, May Hill, Tortworth and Usk. Memoir of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and of the Museum of Practical Geology in London: Longman, London, 1848.

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.

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