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Geologist To Receiv Royal Society Hutton Medal

Waikato University Geologist To Receiv Royal Society Hutton Medal

The internationally recognised Earth sciences geologist who discovered that potentially oil and mineral-rich limestone can form in colder seas (as well as the traditionally accepted tropical seas) has been awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s highly prestigious Hutton Medal for 2004.

Professor Cam Nelson’s discovery about limestone formation in colder waters has spawned a whole new “sub-discipline” within geology, and attracted renewed attention from petroleum exploration companies.

It used to be assumed that limestone, which can hold significant oil and mineral deposits, could only be formed in warm shallow, tropical seas. But Professor Nelson’s work has led to an acceptance it can form at any latitude. Most of New Zealand’s ancient limestone deposits can be shown to have originated in cool to cold sea water.

“The association of many of the world’s giant oilfields and other economic deposits with limestone deposits means companies like Shell are putting further research into the implications of my findings. The fact that limestone can also form in colder waters also gives important information to researchers about the history of the Earth’s climate,” says Prof Nelson, who has been on staff at the university for more than 30 years.“ His work has made him a recognized international leader in the field of carbonate sedimentology.

Prof Nelson is closely involved with the university’s ongoing geological research on the sedimentary rocks in the Whanganui, Taranaki, King Country and Hawke’s Bay regions, including the potential for petroleum and mineral resources to be found there.

His personal supervision of 122 completed Master of Science and PhD research students at Waikato University means he has also made a huge contribution to the pool of highly qualified young scientists in New Zealand.

Prof Nelson received the Hutton Medal for “major contributions in the fields of sedimentology and paleoclimate research”. The Hutton Medal is only awarded to scientists who have undertaken work of “great scientific or technological merit” and who have made an “outstanding contribution” to the advancement of their science.


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