Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES)
Eminent geologist awarded prestigious medal
Fri, 16 Mar 2012 09:13:00 GMT
The award is made to scientists for their strong research contribution and to recognise significant service to geology through administrative, organisational or promotional activities. As well as his research, Dr Strachan has made major contributions to the field through authoring a textbook and his senior journal editorial role.
Two Coke Medals, established by a geologist benefactor, are awarded annually in memory of two brothers who fought at Arnhem in World War II. Major John Sacheverell A’Deane Coke was killed in 1944, aged 33, while escaping after being captured by the enemy in an airborne assault on Arnhem, and his brother Major Edward D’Ewes Fitzgerald Coke, was killed the same year, aged 29, in an ambush while advancing on Arnhem.
Dr Strachan has been Head of School since 2007 and was Chief Editor of the Journal of the Geological Society 2005-2011. The second edition of his textbook, co-authored with Nigel Woodcock, ‘The Geological History of Britain and Ireland’ is due to be published this spring.
He has played leading roles on international projects on comparative studies in Earth Sciences, and served on the Geological Society’s London Stratigraphy Commission, the Advisory Panel to the British Geological Survey and the Committee of the UK Tectonic Studies Group, among others. Over the last 20 years he has also re-mapped the geology of large parts of Northern Scotland for the British Geological Survey.
Dr Strachan’s research is widely published and over the last 30 years he has taught thousands of undergraduate students, mainly in the areas of structural geology, tectonics, mapping and fieldwork.
His main research interests are associated with the study of ancient mountain belts and plate tectonics, and typically involve fieldwork and collaboration with numerous geoscientists in countries as far-flung as the USA and Australia.
He said: “Some of the most memorable moments in my career come from geological mapping in Northeast Greenland. I was 300 miles away from the nearest habitation and where I was walking might not have ever been walked on by a human before. That was pretty epic.
“Geology is a bit like detective work; you’re trying to work out how the rocks that we see on the surface of the Earth evolved through time – some were formed 30 or 40 kilometres underground billions of years ago when continents were in a completely different arrangement to the present day.
“The best part of the job is teaching field geology, whether in the Isle of Wight, Spain, or Scotland, that is where the subject comes alive and the students make the biggest leaps either in terms of their geological understanding or their self-confidence.”
Dr Strachan will receive his Coke Medal this summer.