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Geology at ANU (1959-2009)

Geology at ANU (1959-2009): Fifty years of history and reminiscences OPEN ACCESS

Compiled by Mike Rickard
Edited by Judith Caton
Photographs by Richard Barwick
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24h8dq
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  • Book Info
    Geology at ANU (1959-2009)
    Book Description:

    This history was undertaken to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Geology Department at ANU, and to honour its founding professor David A. Brown. It includes contributions from some 100 former students outlining their career successes. This history was compiled by Dr Mike Rickard, a staff member of the Department of Geology from 1963 to 1997, who also served as Head of Department for seven years. He graduated BSc and PhD from Imperial College London in 1957 and has specialised in mapping the structure of mountain chains in Ireland, Canada, Norway, and southern South America. He also mapped volcanic rocks for the Geological Survey of Fiji. He taught Structural Geology and Tectonics and has supervised field work in south eastern and central Australia. After retirement he has taught U3A courses in Earth Science.

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-67-4
    Subjects: History of Science & Technology, Geology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword (pp. xv-xvi)

    This history of the Department of Geology at The Australian National University, which later became the Department of Earth and Marine Science, provides a fascinating insight into the development of the discipline and of the people involved over a 50-year period. The activity of the department is represented in the classroom and in the field, through the people, the research, student activities and the accomplishments of alumni.

    Dr Mike Rickard is to be thanked for assembling the multifaceted contributions to this history, and for organising a celebratory dinner for the 50-year anniversary in March 2009, which many alumni managed to...

  2. In 1958, Canberra University College, which was then an academic adjunct of the University of Melbourne, decided to introduce a Faculty of Science with Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Physics and Zoology (and subsequently, Psychology and Geography, which had formerly been sited in the Faculty of Arts). To this end, five professors were appointed (Plate 1), and Dr David Brown, Reader in Geology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, arrived in Canberra for the beginning of the 1959 academic year. By 1960, the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, had become convinced that The Australian National University (an...

  3. 2 The People (pp. 9-32)

    David Brown (Plate 2.1) graduated MSc in 1937, after his appointment as Field Geologist to the New Zealand Geological Survey in 1936. He transferred to NZ Petroleum Exploration in 1938. Following the outbreak of World War II, he served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in New Zealand, then in 1941 transferred to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm for service in the United Kingdom as an observer during the Norwegian Campaign. At the end of the war in 1945, he took a honourable discharge and was awarded a postgraduate scholarship at the Imperial College of Science and Technology and...

  4. 3 The Buildings (pp. 33-40)

    The Geology Building (Plate 3.2), last in the row along University Avenue, was well designed by Bill Batt (the University Architect) and W. Pearce (Clerk of Works), implemented by ANU administrative staff (T. M. Owen and P. W. Brett), and built under the watchful eyes of geology staff members. Initially, deeper footings had to be sunk due to the ground structure and Sullivans Creek gravels. A central lecture theatre was surrounded by a 50-seat first-year laboratory, four smaller corner labs and four demonstrators’ rooms. The entrance foyer had wall-map displays and two large display cases for museum and teaching specimens...

  5. 4 Teaching (pp. 41-62)

    Initially, year-long courses (Geology I, Geology II and Geology IIIA) were offered, which included short sessions on different topics. More specialist units (Geol IIIB) were added in 1964. There was great flexibility of course content. Professor Brown took much of the responsibility for first-year teaching. Lectures and practicals were augmented by weekly films and television instruction items, and by numerous weekend field excursions. Some mapping practicals were conducted on the grass outside the building using wooden models of dipping rocks for students to measure and plot. Most staff also ran voluntary tutorials for small groups to assist with understanding course...

  6. 5 Research (pp. 63-110)

    Professor David Brown was a world authority on polyzoa. His work done at Imperial College and the British Museum of Natural History was published as a treatise on New Zealand Tertiary Cheilostomatous polyzoa (Bryozoa). He also published (Royal Society Victoria) a major study on the Tertiary polyzoa of Victoria. He was invited to study samples from Antarctica and drill cores from Bikini Atoll made before atomic tests. He also carried out pioneering palaeolatitude studies with Ted Irving (RSES), plotting Labrinthodonts and other reptiles in their palaeolatitude positions rather than their present latitudes; and showing that the palaeo-positions gave better fits...

  7. The Geology Department has been very successful in obtaining research grants, large equipment grants and grants of ship time from international ventures. Full listing of these would be too lengthy, but, for example, more than $1.8 million was awarded in 1995. Hundreds of research papers and books have been published. In 1988, it was reported that over the 30-year life of the department, staff and associates had published at a rate of 1.4–4 (average 2.7) publications per staff member per annum, and the citation rate had increased from 104 to 294 over the period 1983–87. In 2005, 57...

  8. Professor Brown was the first Dean of Students after dissolution of the School of General Studies. At the-end-of-year ball, he had to open the dancing with the Student President, a female who was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned ‘Make love not war’ (in response to the Australian visit of US President Lyndon B. Johnson). Professor Brown also served as external examiner for Newcastle University. Professor Brown, Professor Campbell and Professor Arculus have all been deans of the Science Faculty.

    Mike Rickard served as Deputy Dean for several years (1991–95), and Tony Eggleton (1967–68) and Rickard (1979–80) served as...

  9. The third-year pass degree is not constrained, so that the amount of geology included varies. This makes it difficult to determine for statistical surveys the actual number of geologists who have graduated from the department. A professional qualification in geology has always been considered to be at the honours level, although several students with pass degrees or graduate diplomas have been successful. Initially, female graduates had trouble finding jobs with mining companies. In 1969, Anne Felton was the first female honours graduate, but, by the mid-1970s, there was a reasonable balance, and ‘girls’ won several of the major prizes and...

  10. In 1998, funding cuts led an effort to increase student loads. From 1995 to 1999, student load increased considerably, while at the same time full-time academic staff numbers were reduced from eight to six. As a result, student–staff ratios declined from 16:5 to 37:1. In addition, several administrative duties were downloaded from central to departmental levels.

    From 2000 on, the department underwent many changes. It became part of a wider College of Science, changed its name to the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences (DEMS) in 2004, and then merged with RSES in late 2007. There were four heads...

  11. A reunion dinner marked the first 50 years of the Geology Department at the ANU. This was a celebration of all that had been achieved by members of the department during those years and it marked the beginning of a new era for the present staff and students.

    The reunion dinner was held in the Great Hall at University House on Saturday 7 March to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the setting up of the department. Four of the original 1959 class were present as were all but one (who was overseas) of the heads of department (Plates 10.1 and...

  12. 11 Alumni News (pp. 173-244)

    Our graduates have spread across Australia and overseas with employment in many aspects of geology and related disciplines. Some have maintained contacts with each other or the department; others we have lost track of. I have attempted to contact as many as possible by advertisement or word of mouth. Listed here (in graduation date order) are potted histories—some in their own words—of those who responded.

    Ian Bruce Lambert was in the first intake of the Geology Department in 1959 (it was then in the Canberra University College), and was its first honours graduate (1963). After completing a PhD...