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William Smith Meeting 2013: The First Century of Isotope Geochronology: the Legacy of Frederick Soddy & Arthur Holmes

In 1913, Frederick Soddy’s research on the fundamentals of radioactivity led to the discovery of isotopes.  (Soddy, F., Intra-atomic Charge, Nature, v. 92, p. 399-400, 4 December 1913). This was arguably one of the most important scientific developments in the 20th century and he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1921.

In that same year (1913), Arthur Holmes published his now famous booklet ‘The Age of the Earth’ (Harper & Brothers) in which he described his vision of developing a geological time scale.

Together, these two landmark publications established the field of science known today as ‘isotope geochronology’. From the discovery of radioactivity to establishing the precise chronology of the Earth’s history in less than 100 years is one of the most important accomplishments in the history of science. 

Their centenary anniversary in 2013 provided us with an ideal opportunity for celebration.


  • The Age of Evolution of the Earth and Other Planets
  • From Nier to present - the development of modern isotope ratio mass spectrometry
  • No dates, no rates! (Magmatism)
  • No dates, no rates! (Fluids)
  • No dates, no rates! (Tectonics)
  • No dates, no rates! (Geomagnetic Polarity time scales)
  • Calibrating geological time scales
  • Dating our recent past

Event Details

William Smith 2013 

Date: 25-27 June 2013
Venue: The Geological Society, Burlington House, London


Naomi Newbold

The Geological Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly, London
United Kingdom
Tel: 020 7432 0981
Fax: 020 7494 0579
Email Naomi Newbold