Geology medal for Wadham Physicist

22nd September 2015

News, Alumni news

Wadham alumnus Peter Styles (1969, Physics) has been presented with a Medal of Merit by the European Federation of Geologists.

  • Peter Styles

Peter, one of Europe’s leading applied and environmental geophysicists, received the award for his exceptional and distinguished contributions to the Federation and to the geological profession in Europe. 

Peter graduated from Wadham in 1972 with a BA in Physics and completed his PhD on Plate Tectonics at Newcastle University.

"I was one of Warden Maurice Bowra's Northumberland scholars - he did a great job of bringing us 'Northern lads' to Oxford," he commented.

Peter's research has focused on geophysical investigations of plate tectonic processes of new ocean formation (Red Sea), plate destruction (Southern Chile), anthropogenic (man-made!) phenomena associated with coal mining and most recently with microseismicity relating to shale gas and geothermal exploration and exploitation.

Since 2000, he has been Professor of Applied and Environmental Geophysics at Keele University, where he was also Head of the School of Earth Sciences and Geography and Director of the Research Institute for Environment, Physical Sciences and Mathematics. In his academic life Peter has played a leading role in the delivery of Earth sciences to several hundred undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as influencing teaching and research staff.

He has served the Geological profession in many ways, with considerable beneficial impact. As the Geological Society’s Professional Secretary, he was the UK’s delegate to EFG Council, serving the development of the profession in Europe from 1997 to 2000. Despite starting out as a Physicist, he was elected President of the Geological Society of London from 2004 to 2006, and has served at a high level on government bodies, spending two terms on the board of the British Geological Survey. He has advised the UK government on underground storage of nuclear waste. His work has raised the profile of geoscience within government and with the public, as well as in the advice he has given to industry. He was also President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Geology Section) for 2007. He is Editor-in-Chief of Geoscientist and currently conducting a global lecture programme as the first Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Environmental Geophysics for the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE).

More widely, Peter has made a major contribution to the current debate on shale gas and the associated hydraulic fracturing, making sure that policy makers and the public are informed of the facts that relate to shale gas exploration. He also applies his knowledge of microseismic activity to geothermal exploration.

He was awarded the William Smith Medal of the Geological Society of London in 2014 for outstanding research in Applied Geosciences and the Medal of Merit of the European Federation of Geologists in 2014/2015 for persons who have provided exceptional and distinguished contributions to the Federation or to the geological profession in Europe.