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School of Geography

Professor Murray Gray


Honorary Professor of Geography



Murray Gray joined Queen Mary in 1972 having trained as a glacial geomorphologist at the University of Edinburgh and went on to publish extensively on the Quaternary geomorphology of western Scotland, north Wales and East Anglia. Later in his career he served as Head of the Department of Geography (1989-1992) and as Faculty Academic Dean (1998-2001).
In the 1990s, Murray became more interested in applied research and eventually moved into the fields of geodiversity, geoheritage and geoconservation, investigating topics such as landscape character assessment, authentic landform/landscape design, and land-use planning. Three years before retirement his in 2007, Murray published a book titled Geodiversity: Valuing and Conserving Abiotic Nature (John Wiley, 2004, 434pp.) and has since become the leading international expert on geodiversity (there have 1155 citations of the first edition according to Google Scholar and a second edition was published in 2013). Murray has given numerous invited presentations on the theme in Europe, South East Asia (Japan, China, Hong Kong), the Americas (US, Canada, Brazil) and South Africa all under the Queen Mary affiliation. This exceptional contribution has been influential in spurring other research and conservation policy development across the world. For example, he continues to contribute to the work of the Geoheritage Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas/International Union for the Conservation of Nature to promote the importance of abiotic nature in international environmental policy.
Murray had reached the position of Reader when he retired from Queen Mary in 2007. Conferment of a Professorial title in 2019 recognises Murray’s exceptional achievements over the last decade and the role he has played in sustaining the School and University’s high reputation across the world. It also provides an opportunity for us to continue to benefit from his expertise and friendship as he writes another book, gives conference presentations, and pursues other writing activities and policy engagement work.


Research Interests:

Research areas: geodiversity and geoconservation

Most focus in nature conservation is on wildlife conservation or biodiversity. Important though this is, much greater attention needs to be given to valuing and conserving abiotic nature or geodiversity, defined as the natural range of rocks, sediments, minerals, fossils, soils, landforms and physical processes. This is because this abiotic diversity is of value in a variety of ways yet is threatened by several human actions which can destroy, damage or pollute physical systems. Geodiversity and geoconservation research at Queen Mary focuses on:

  • major international issues, comparisons, terminology and definitions (Gray, 2013);
  • geomorphologically authentic design of anthropogenic landforms;
  • conservation of landscape character in the wider landscape;
  • development of model planning policies, Supplementary Planning Guidance on Geodiversity (SPG), Geodiversity Action Plans (GAPs);
  • geoconservation and public policy.


  • Gray, J. M. 1997. Planning and landform: geomorphological authenticity or incongruity in the countryside. Area, 29, 312–324.
  • Gray, J. M. 1997. Landraising: groundwater protection, visual impact and planning. Waste Planning, 25, 10–12.
  • Gray, J. M. 1998. Hills of waste: a policy conflict in environmental geology. In Bennett, M. R. & Doyle, P. (eds) Issues in environmental geology: a British perspective. Geological Society London, 173–195.
  • Gray, J. M. 2001. Geomorphological conservation and public policy in England: a geomorphological critique of English Nature’s “Natural Areas” approach. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 26, 1009–1023.
  • Gray, J. M. 2002. Landraising of waste in England. 1990-2000: a survey of the geomorphologicasl issues raised by planning applications. Applied Geography, 22, 209–234.
  • Gray, M. & Jarman, D. 2003. Creating authentic “glacial” landforms from waste materials: two UK case studies. Scottish Geographical Journal, 119, 311–324.
  • Gray, M. 2004. ‘Land form’ rather than ‘landforms’: geomorphological conservation outside protected areas. In Parkes, M. A. (ed) Natural and cultural landscapes: the geological foundation. Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.
  • Gray, M. 2004. Geodiversity: valuing and conserving abiotic nature. John Wiley, Chichester, 434pp.
  • Gray, M. 2008 Geodiversity: origin and evolution of a paradigm. In Burek, C.D. and Prosser, C.D. (eds) The history of geoconservation. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 300, 31–36.
  • Gray, M. 2008 Geodiversity: a new paradigm for valuing and conserving geoheritage.Geoscience Canada, 35, 51–58.
  • Gray, M. 2009 Landscape: the physical layer. In Clifford, N.J., Holloway, S.L., Rice, S.P. and Valentine, G. (eds) Key concepts in geography. Sage, London, 265–285.
  • Gray, M. 2011 GSSPs: the case for a third, internationally-recognised, geoconservation network. Geoheritage, 3, 83-88.
  • Gray, M. 2011 Other nature: geodiversity and geosystem services. Environmental Conservation, 38, 271–274. 
  • Gray, M. 2012 Valuing geodiversity in an ‘‘ecosystem services’’ context. Scottish Geographical Journal, 128, 177–194.
  • Gray, M., Gordon, J.E. and Brown E.J. 2013 Geodiversity and the ecosystem approach: the contribution of geoscience in delivering integrated environmental management. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, 24, 659-673.
  • Gray, M. 2013. Geodiversity: valuing and conserving abiotic nature. 2nd edition. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, 495pp. 
  • Hjort, J., Gordon, J.E., Gray, M. & Hunter, M.L. 2015. Why geodiversity matters in valuing nature’s stage. Conservation Biology, 29, 630-639.
  • Gray, M. 2018. Geodiversity: the backbone of geoheritage and geoconservation. In Reynard, E. & Brilha, J. (eds) Geoheritage: assessment, protection and management. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 13-25
  • Gray, M. 2018. Geodiversity, geoheritage, geoconservation and their relationship to geotourism. In Dowling, R. & Newsome, D. (eds) Handbook of Geotourism. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., Cheltenham, 48-60.
  • Brilha, J., Gray, M., Pereira, D.I. and Pereira, P. 2018. Geodiversity: an integrative review as a contribution to the sustainable development of the whole of nature. Environmental Science and Policy, 86, 19-28.
  • Gray, M. 2018. The confused position of the geosciences within the “natural capital” and “ecosystem services” approaches. Ecosystem Services, 34, 106-112.
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