Charles Lyell’s notebooks saved

The first lecture of this winter’s programme was on the topic of “Sir Charles Lyell: Making the archives of a public man of science public” on 16th October 2019 and was given by Dr David McClay – Philanthropy Manager, Library and University Collections at the University of Edinburgh.  The good news from the preceding day (and luckily for the speaker) was the announcement that the required sum of just under £1 million had been raised, thanks to generous contributions from the Edinburgh Geological Society, individual fellows and more than 1100 other supporters.  David re-iterated his thanks to the society and all those who had gifted contributions.

So, what next? Well the University Library and Collections have held several open sessions at which a few EGS Fellows have been present to view the notebooks.  The University has also been reviewing the condition of the notebooks with an aim of carrying out a sample digitisation, which will be made available in the next 12 months.  The full scanning will be a massive job, given there are 294 notebooks in the collection.  One thing that the University may require help with is the transcribing of the notebooks – training will be provided and it is likely that volunteers will be needed.  We will be keeping Fellows updated on any requests for assistance.  In the meantime, the web link explains more about what will be happening in the coming months.


Clough Medal Lecture – 19 February 2020

Prof K Whaler & Bob Gatliff – Clough Medal Award 2019

On Wednesday 19th February 2020, EGS Fellows gathered for the Clough Medal lecture held at the University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute.  The 2019-20 Clough Medal was awarded to Professor Kathy Whaler OBE, FRSE, FAGU (University of Edinburgh) for a distinguished career as an academic in the field of geophysics. Our current President, Bob Gatliff presented Kathy with the Clough Medal and was able to remind fellows that this year was notable on two counts. First that Kathy was only the third geophysicist to be awarded the medal and that it was over 40 years since Janet Watson received the medal. Kathy thanked the society for the recognition she had been given and was then able to explain some of the many facets of her research  in a lecture entitled “Adventures with Maxwell’s equations”.

Amongst the topics covered was her research in the field of geo-magnetism, involving the use of geophysics to large-scale earth processes, from the Earth’s core through the crust and even to interpreting the history of Mars geomagnetic record.  She also explained some recent research being undertaken in the Afar region of Ethiopia, called the RiftVolc project, which has drawn together a multidisciplinary group of researchers to understand crustal processes in the East African Rift. Finally, Prof Whaler touched on the future research topics including the important role played by the Earth’s magnetic field in protecting us from solar flares. She is also planning more research within the rift valley, where active volcanoes and the public are found close together.  At the end of the evening, Bob thanked Kathy for the wide ranging and fascinating lecture to celebrate the award of the 2019-20 Clough Medal.