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79-Year-Old Wins NZ's Top Geology Award

Wednesday, 28 November 2001
Top Geology Awards Announced

New Zealand's top honour in geology, the McKay Hammer, has this year been won by Pat Suggate of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited.

Dr Suggate is an internationally recognised expert in two very different areas of geology. His work on advances and retreats of ancient glaciers has helped document the evidence for fluctuations in the Earth's climate over millions of years.

He is also famous for his work on how peat and organic matter are changed into coal when buried in sedimentary basins. His work showed that coal and organic sediments are the source of oil in gas in New Zealand's largest oil fields.

Dr Suggate's research led to the development of what is known as the Suggate Rank Scheme, which is used by oil exploration companies around the world. It is a tool for describing and interpreting the oil and gas potential of sedimentary basins.

And long before GPS technology was available, he developed ways to measure and analyse the deformation of the earth's surface. This contributed to the understanding of plate tectonics and earthquake hazards in New Zealand.

Under his leadership, the New Zealand Geological Survey made major contributions to the development of New Zeraland's coalfields and to the building of hydro-electricty facilities. His work on sedimentary basins also contributed to the development of the oil and gas industries in Taranaki.

Although he officially retired in 1986, the last 15 years have been a preiod of exceptional productivity for Dr Suggate. He will celebrate his eightieth birthday next year with the publication of another major scientific paper.

President of the Geological Society, Simon Nathan, said that Dr Suggate was an inspiration to many of the younger scientists with whom he worked.

" Pat Suggate is proof that an active an enquiring mind is the most important piece of equipment for first-rate scientific research."

The McKay Hammer award is presented annually by the Geological Society of New Zealand for the most outstanding published research on New Zealand geology in the preceding three years. The award is a gold-plated geologist's hammer.

The awards are scheduled to be presented at a function in Hamilton tonight. The full list of 2001 awards is as follows:

McKay Hammer for the most outstanding published research on New Zealand geology in the preceding three years: Dr Pat Suggate, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited, Lower Hutt

Kingma Award for outstanding technical services: Dirk Immenga, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Waikato

Hornibook Award for a student working on stratigraphy: Kathryn Wilson, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, Palmerston North

Wellman Research Award for the best research proposal by a young scientist: Dr Richard Smith, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Waikato

Harold Wellman Prize for important fossil discoveries: Don Haw, Wellington. As a young geologist working for BP in the late 1950s, Don Haw discovered and described the localities in Mangahouanga Stream, northern Hawke's Bay, which later yielded the fossilised bones of New Zealand's dinosaurs. This location remains the only place in New Zealand where dinosaur bones have been found.

ENDS

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