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2003 News Archive

Award of Honorary Membership of the Association of Exploration Geochemists (AEG) to G.J.S. Govett

Professor Gerry GovettPresentation record by Dr David Garnett

Professor Gerry Govett (Visitor to CRC LEME) was awarded Honorary Membership of the AEG at the International Geochemical Exploration Symposium in Dublin in September 2003. He is the sixth person to receive this award.. Honorary Membership is given only to those who have made a distinguished contribution to exploration geochemistry that warrants exceptional recognition. It may be awarded for scientific excellence; for an exceptional contribution to dissemination of knowledge of that science; or for a major contribution towards the growth and well-being of exploration geochemists through such bodies as the AEG. In the case of Gerry Govett it can be argued that he qualifies on all three counts.

He was a founding member of the AEG, serving on Council from 1974 to 1978, including a term as President in 1976-1977. He organised the first regional AEG meeting, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and also served on the original committee that formulated the guidelines for awarding AEG Honorary Membership. In recent years he has been particularly active in the debate over the changing role of the Association. His contribution to geoscience has not stopped with the AEG. He was Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Geology, University of New Brunswick (1973-1977) and was also a member of the Canadian Geoscience Council (1975-1977); the Canadian Committee for the Correlation of Caledonian Strata-bound Sulphides Project (1975-1977); the International Nickel Company of Canada Graduate Research Fellowship Committee (1969-1973) and the Australian National Committee for the International Geological Correlation Projects (1978-1988). As if this wasn't enough he was also a Councillor for the Australian Mineral Foundation (1983); and served as Vice-President (1981-1983) and President (1983-1984) of the Australian Geoscience Council.

Having obtained degrees from the Universities of Wales and London, his early career included an appointment as Associate Research Officer at the Research Council of Alberta, and later Professor of Geology at the University of New Brunswick (Canada). These appointments were interspersed with periods as consultant to the United Nations and OECD in various countries. He made his last major move, to the University of New South Wales, Australia, where he occupied the Chair of Geology (1977-1996), first as Head of the School of Applied Geology (1979-1985) before broadening his responsibilities to become Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science (1984-1996). In this last position he was responsible for some 230 academic and general staff.

The career outlined above would have been more than enough for most people but Gerry Govett is far from being a simple died-in-the-wool academic. He has had extensive exploration experience (planning and implementation) in 15 countries (Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Greece, Guyana, Jordan, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, Zambia, Zimbabwe). He has consulted to both large international and smaller national mining and he has been Geochemical Adviser and Consultant to the Geological Surveys of Greece (1975, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989) and Finland (1987, 1989). In addition he was a Director of Delta Gold Ltd from the time it listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1983 until it merged with Goldfields Limited in 2001 to form AurionGold. During that period he was Chairman of the Board during the company reorganisation in 1994. He remained a member of the Board after the merger until the company was taken over by Placer Dome in 2002.

In a career that spans well over forty years Gerry has achieved successful transitions both from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere and from academia to business, and in the process has made seminal contributions across the entire field of exploration geochemistry. Whether it was sampling protocols or data analysis he had something constructive and original to say about it. He was an early champion of electrochemical models of element dispersion through transported cover, and while this was more than thirty years ago it is as relevant today as it was then. This, and other, work is documented in more than ninety scientific papers.

He has not only generated knowledge of exploration geochemistry, he has also disseminated it, both his own and the work of others. He has inspired generations of students both in Canada and Australia with his energy, his enthusiasm and the scientific rigour of his ideas, and has managed to translate his academic skill into tangible exploration successes. He served on the editorial boards of Resources Policy from 1974-1991, the Journal of Geochemical Exploration (1976-1998) and Exploration and Mining Geology (1991-1996).

It is clear that exploration geochemistry owes much to Gerry Govett but it is probably reasonable to argue that his most enduring contribution to has been through his editorship of the Handbook of Exploration Geochemistry. He not only conceived the idea for such a series, in 1974, but he even wrote one of the volumes that we have today – on rock geochemistry. He coerced many of the world's leading geochemists to provide chapters for the seven volumes produced so far, providing an invaluable synthesis of knowledge on exploration geochemistry.

- Presented at "IGES 2003", Dublin, August 2003.


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