Geologists gather to celebrate 70 years of research

Published 29 November 2010

geologyAn international conference and reunion of staff members and graduates in Geology at the University of New England, held on campus earlier this month, celebrated 70 years of research on the geology of the New England region.

About 160 geologists attended the reunion – the “Geomuster” – and the conference, which ran from Tuesday 16 to Friday 19 November.

The University has taught geology and conducted research on the geology of the region ever since 1939 – the year after its foundation as New England University College. The institution’s first Honours graduate in geology, Dr Ken Williams, and its first Doctor of Philosophy in geology, Professor Keith Crook, were among the conference participants, some of whom came from as far away as the United States, Canada, the UK, and Hong Kong. The conference program included talks by several UNE geology graduates on their subsequent careers and current research interests.

Titled “New England Orogen 2010”, the conference focused on the formation, geological structure, and mineral resources of the region of tectonic upheaval (called an “orogen”) that centres on New England. The keynote speaker was the British structural geologist Professor John Dewey, a leading figure in the development of the theory of plate tectonics, whose ground-breaking research has included the production of a model to describe the formation of mountain chains including the Himalayas.

The first day of the conference, Tuesday 16 November, was a “Tectonics Symposium” devoted to papers on the formation of the New England Orogen. The symposium honoured the significant contribution of the UNE geologist Peter Flood to an understanding of this phenomenon. “The conference proved to be an excellent blend of nostalgia and research,” said Professor Flood, whose research has already spanned more than 44 years.

On Thursday 18 November, at a Granites Symposium, UNE graduate Bruce Chappell, now Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Wollongong, launched his New England Granites Database – the result of 50 years’ work. “It was great to have this opportunity to get together with other geologists and share the development of ideas on the geological history of New England,” Professor Chappell said.

On the last day of the conference a Resources Symposium, comprising papers on the formation and potential of mineral deposits in New England and adjacent regions, honoured the 25-year contribution of UNE’s Associate Professor Paul Ashley, who presented the final paper.

Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Professor John Dewey (left), Professor Annabelle Duncan (UNE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research), and Professor Peter Flood.