Queen Mary Alumni

New Zealand, Australia and Oceania

Regional Coordinator:

Tom's profile

After graduating from QMC, I went off to the University of Birmingham where I did an MSc in Applied Geophysics, at a time when “Geophysics” was almost unknown outside the oil companies, and shortly after completing that degree, married a Geography graduate from KCL/LSE before we left for New Zealand to take up a position in the (then) Geophyisics Division of the NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.  In those days, the bulk of NZ's scientific research was carried out in the DSIR, rather than in the universities which were very much tertiary teaching institutions.

My arrival in Geophysics Division was at a time when most of its scientists had Physics or Maths backgrounds, so my basis of Geology from QMC was a very valuable asset.  This was a particularly interesting time for Earth Scientists when the concept of “plate tectonics” was being developed – and New Zealand was a particularly interesting place to be involved.  It was not long before I began investigating the magnetic properties of rocks and I entered the fascinating world of Palaeomagnetism.

My original appointment to the Geophysics Division had been made possible by the NZ Government's desire to increase its investigation of its mineral wealth, and I had also been working with electromagnetic prospecting methods to assist in this programme.  In the late 1960s I experimented with these techniques for mapping the electrical properties of the upper parts of geothermal reservoirs and became part of the geothermal investigation programme – a move which later culminated in my having responsibility for the coordination of the DSIR's entire geothermal research.  During this period I had opportunities to study geothermal resources in the Philippines and Mexico and was closely involved in the organisation of international meetings on geothermal and renewable energy resources in association with ASEAN and also one with NATO-CCMS (Committee on Challenges to Modern Society).  In the 1970s and '80s I was the DSIR's representative at many meetings of the NZ Energy Research and Development Committee which provided many NZ energy scientists with their first experience of competing for research funding.

In the late 1980s and early '90s I gained a great interest in the environmental aspects of the development of geothermal resources and when I retired from the DSIR in 1992, I carried on a consultancy business in this area which brought me into close contact with a much more holistic view of science than I had previously experienced when I was engaged by a Maori group who were seeking to regain, under relatively newly enacted legislation, more autonomy over land under which there are geothermal resources.

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