Geological Society of London
The Geological Society of London (also known as The Geological Society) is a learned society
Learned society
A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline/profession, as well a group of disciplines. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election, as is the case with the oldest learned societies,...

 based in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 with the aim of "investigating the mineral structure of the Earth". It is the oldest national geological society in the world and the largest in Europe with over 9,000 Fellows entitled to the postnominal FGS (Fellow of the Geological Society) — over 2,000 of whom are Chartered Geologists (CGeol). The Society is a Registered Charity, No 210161.


The Society was founded in 1807. It was partly the outcome of a previous club known as the Askesian Society
Askesian Society
The Askesian Society was a debating club for scientific thinkers, established in 1796 in London. The name was taken from the Greek term Askesis, meaning 'training' or 'application'. It was founded by William Allen, who allowed the use of his laboratory at No...

, and among the more prominent founders were William Babington, James Parkinson
James Parkinson
James Parkinson was an English apothecary surgeon, geologist, paleontologist, and political activist. He is most famous for his 1817 work, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in which he was the first to describe "paralysis agitans", a condition that would later be renamed Parkinson's disease by...

, Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

 and George Bellas Greenough
George Bellas Greenough
George Bellas Greenough FRS , an English geologist, was born in London.-Biography:Greenough was born George Bellas, named after his father, George Bellas, who had a profitable business in the legal profession as a proctor in Doctor's Commons, St Paul's Churchyard Doctors' Commons and some real...

. It received its Royal Charter in 1825 from George IV
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...


Since 1874 the Society has been based at Burlington House
Burlington House
Burlington House is a building on Piccadilly in London. It was originally a private Palladian mansion, and was expanded in the mid 19th century after being purchased by the British government...

, Piccadilly
Piccadilly is a major street in central London, running from Hyde Park Corner in the west to Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is completely within the city of Westminster. The street is part of the A4 road, London's second most important western artery. St...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. This building houses the Society's library, which contains more than 300,000 volumes of books and journals. It is a member of the UK Science Council
Science Council
The was established by Royal Charter in 2003. The principal activity of The Science Council is the promotion of the advancement and dissemination of knowledge of and education in science pure and applied, for the public benefit....


In 1991 it merged with the Institution of Geologists, which had been formed in 1977 to represent the geological profession.

The Society celebrated its bicentenary in 2007 with a number of programmes to raise the profile of the geosciences in Britain and abroad under the auspices of the well-known popular science writer and palaeontologist Professor Richard Fortey
Richard Fortey
Richard A. Fortey FRS is a British palaeontologist and writer.-Career:Richard Fortey studied geology at the University of Cambridge and had a long career as a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. Prof. Fortey’s research interests include, above all, trilobites...

, the President over that year.

Specialist and regional groups

The Society has 24 specialist groups and 15 regional groups which serve as an opportunity for those with specific interests to meet and discuss their subject or region. They are all free for members to join and some are open to non-members.

The Regional Groups are:
  • Central Scotland
  • East Anglian
  • East Midlands
  • Home Counties North
  • Hong Kong
  • North West
  • Northern
  • Solent
  • South East
  • South West
  • Southern Wales
  • Thames Valley
  • West Midlands
  • Western
  • Yorkshire

The Specialist Groups are:
  • Borehole Research Group
  • British Geophysical Association
  • British Sedimentological Research Group
  • British Society for Geomorphology
  • Coal Geology Group
  • Engineering Group
  • Environment Group
  • Environmental and Industrial Geophysics Group
  • Forensic Geoscience Group
  • Gaia: Earth Systems Science Group
  • Geochemistry Group
  • Geological Curators Group
  • Geological Remote Sensing Group
  • Geoscience Information Group
  • History of Geology Group
  • Hydrogeological Group
  • Joint Association for Quaternary Research
  • Joint Association of Geoscientists for International Development
  • Marine Studies Group
  • Metamorphic Studies Group
  • Mineral Deposits Studies Group
  • Petroleum Group
  • Tectonic Studies Group
  • Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group


The society publishes two of its own journals, the (formerly Quarterly) Journal of the Geological Society
Journal of the Geological Society
The Journal of the Geological Society is a peer-reviewed scientific journal which covers research in all aspects of the Earth sciences....

and the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. It also publishes the magazine Geoscientist
Geoscientist (magazine)
Geoscientist is a monthly magazine produced for the Fellowship of the Geological Society of London. The magazine is editorially independent of the Geological Society's administration. It has a print run of 10,000 and is freely available to all Fellows....

for Fellows, and has a share in Geology Today, published by Blackwell
Blackwell Publishing
Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons. It was formed by the merger of John Wiley's Global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business with Blackwell Publishing, after Wiley took over Blackwell Publishing in...


It also co-publishes journals and publishes on behalf of other organisations. These include Petroleum Geoscience
Petroleum Geoscience
Petroleum Geoscience is a journal published by The Geological Society of London and European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers covering science and technology associated with rock-related petroleum disciplines....

with the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers
European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers
The European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers is a multi-disciplinary professional association for geoscientists and engineers. It was founded in 1951 and has a worldwide membership...

 (EAGE), Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis with the Association of Applied Geochemists
Association of Applied Geochemists
The Association of Applied Geochemists is an international society that seeks to advance the study and application of geochemistry and represents scientists working in that field.-Membership:...

 (AAG), Journal of Micropalaeontology for the Micropalaeontological Society, Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society for the Yorkshire Geological Society and Scottish Journal of Geology for the Geological Societies of Edinburgh
Edinburgh Geological Society
The Edinburgh Geological Society was founded in 1834 in Edinburgh, Scotland, with the aim of stimulating public interest in geology and the advancement of geological knowledge...

 and Glasgow.

Past presidents

The society counts many famous geologists amongst its past presidents. These include pioneers of geology Buckland
William Buckland
The Very Rev. Dr William Buckland DD FRS was an English geologist, palaeontologist and Dean of Westminster, who wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus...

, Sedgwick
Adam Sedgwick
Adam Sedgwick was one of the founders of modern geology. He proposed the Devonian period of the geological timescale...

, Murchison, Lyell
Charles Lyell
Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet, Kt FRS was a British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day. He is best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which popularised James Hutton's concepts of uniformitarianism – the idea that the earth was shaped by slow-moving forces still in operation...

, De la Beche, T.H.Huxley, Prestwich
Joseph Prestwich
Sir Joseph Prestwich FRS, was a British geologist and businessman, known as an expert on the Tertiary Period and for having confirmed the findings of Boucher de Perthes of ancient flint tools in the Somme valley gravel beds....

, Geikie
Archibald Geikie
Sir Archibald Geikie, OM, KCB, PRS, FRSE , was a Scottish geologist and writer.-Early life:Geikie was born in Edinburgh in 1835, the eldest son of musician and music critic James Stuart Geikie...

 and Lapworth
Charles Lapworth
Charles Lapworth was an English geologist.-Biography:He was born at Faringdon in Berkshire and educated as a teacher at the Culham Diocesan Training College near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. He moved to the Scottish border region, where he investigated the previously little-known fossil fauna of the area...

. Later well-known names include Alfred Harker
Alfred Harker (petrologist)
Alfred Harker FRS was an English geologist who specialised in petrology and interpretive petrography. He worked for the Geological Survey of Scotland and conducted extensive surveying and geological studies of western Scotland and the Isle of Skye...

, Arthur Trueman
Arthur Elijah Trueman
Sir Arthur Elijah Trueman, FRS, was a British geologist.-Early life and career:Trueman was born in Nottingham, son of Elijah and Thirza Trueman. He was educated at High Pavement School, Nottingham, leaving in 1911 to become student teacher at Huntington Street School, Nottingham...

, H.H.Read
Herbert Harold Read
Herbert Harold Read FRS, FRSE, FGS, was a British geologist and Professor of Geology at Imperial College...

 and Frederick Shotton
Frederick William Shotton
Professor Frederick William Shotton FRS was a British geologist....

. The current president is Dr Bryan Lovell, University of Cambridge.

Scientific awards and funds

In 1831 it began issuing an annual scientific award for geology, known as the Wollaston Medal
Wollaston Medal
The Wollaston Medal is a scientific award for geology, the highest award granted by the Geological Society of London.The medal is named after William Hyde Wollaston, and was first awarded in 1831...

. This is still the Society's premier medal, which in 2006 was awarded to James Lovelock
James Lovelock
James Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS is an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurologist who lives in Devon, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling...

, the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis
Gaia hypothesis
The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.The scientific investigation of the...


Medals awarded by the Society

  • Wollaston Medal
    Wollaston Medal
    The Wollaston Medal is a scientific award for geology, the highest award granted by the Geological Society of London.The medal is named after William Hyde Wollaston, and was first awarded in 1831...

  • Lyell Medal
    Lyell Medal
    The Lyell Medal is a prestigious annual scientific medal given by the Geological Society of London, equal in status to the Murchison Medal, awarded on the basis of research to an Earth Scientist of exceptional quality...

  • Murchison Medal
    Murchison Medal
    An award established by Roderick Murchison, who died in 1871. One of the closing public acts of Murchison’s life was the founding of a chair of geology and mineralogy in the University of Edinburgh. Under his will there was established the Murchison Medal and geological fund to be awarded annually...

  • Prestwich Medal
    Prestwich Medal
    The Prestwich Medal is a medal of the Geological Society of London established in the will of Joseph Prestwich "to apply the accumulated annual proceeds…at the end of every three years, in providing a Gold Medal to the value of Twenty Pounds which, with the remainder of the proceeds is to be...

  • William Smith Medal
    William Smith Medal
    The William Smith Medal is a medal of the Geological Society of London, awarded for outstanding research in applied or economic geology. It was first awarded in 1977...

  • Aberconway Medal
    Aberconway Medal
    The Aberconway Medal is a medal of the Geological Society of London, formerly awarded annually by the Institution of Geologists but since the Institution's merger with the Society in 1990 it has been awarded biannually by the Society...

  • Major John Sacheverell A'Deane Coke Medal
  • Major Edward D'Ewes Fitzgerald Coke Medal
  • Sue Tyler Friedman Medal
    Sue Tyler Friedman Medal
    The Sue Tyler Friedman Medal is awarded by the Geological Society of London for work on the history of geology. It is named after Sue Tyler Friedman.- Sue Tyler Friedman Medalists :*1988 Martin J. S...

  • Bigsby Medal
    Bigsby Medal
    The Bigsby Medal is a medal of the Geological Society of London established by John Jeremiah Bigsby. It is awarded for the study of American geology and recipients must be under 45 years of age.-Bigsby Medalists:List of Medallists...

Funds administered by the Society

  • The Wollaston Fund
  • The Murchison Fund
    The Murchison Fund
    The Murchison Fund is an award given by the Geological Society of London to researchers under the age of 40 who have contributed substantially to the study of hard rock and tectonic geology. It is named in honour of Prof. Roderick Impey Murchison.-Recipients:...

  • The Lyell Fund
  • The R. H. Worth Prize
  • The William Smith Fund
  • The Distinguished Service Award

External links

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