PESGB April 2007
President’s Page- Stephen Pickering
I always remember going to a library for the first time and having the Dewey Decimal System explained to me. I was fascinated that it was simple to find a book covering any particular topic amongst the labyrinth of shelves, and that books could be added to the catalogue without having to renumber each one in the library. Some years later at Kingston “Poly” I was taught Linnaean taxonomy, first proposed by Carl Linnaeus in 1735 for classifying different fossil and extant species into genera, families, orders, classes and phyla. What is it I wonder that makes humans want to classify everything?
Well when you have a large number of similar things like books or fossils, grouping them by common features certainly helps to pinpoint those which are of particularly interest to you. There are a large number of similar yet different “things” in the PESGB, over 5000 in fact – and it’s you the membership. Of course, we can divide the membership into geologists, geophysicists etc., based on skills. But this isn’t always sufficient and sometimes we need other criteria such as geology, geography, or technology to identify groups of members with shared interests.
Over the years a number of Regional Branches have developed in the PESGB. These groups each have an informal fellowship of individual members with shared common interests and
committed leaders. Some such as the North-West Group focused on “Robbos” in Llandudno exist because they wish to enjoy the benefits of the society which those members based in London take for granted. In Aberdeen, the largest branch, lectures take place monthly, while in the Irish Branch the lectures are quarterly and reflect the interests of the Irish exploration companies. The Surrey Branch does not hold lectures at all, it exists purely for the very important function of social intercourse a.k.a. networking – as we all know it is often less important what you know, as who you know!
The Special Interest Groups are another category within the PESGB. Unlike the Regional Branches the SIGs do not have evening meetings but typically host a conference on an annual, biennial or even less frequent basis. There are currently three Special Interest Groups in the Society – Africa, Data Management and Seismic, and in the next 12 months each of them will host a major conference. The Africa Group has an annual conference hosted alternately by the PESGB and Houston Geological Society. The next Africa conference will be held in Cape Town in September in collaboration with PetroSA; whilst the 8th biannual Data Management Conference takes place in December, jointly organized by the Geoscience Information Group and hosted at the Geological Society, London. Finally, there is an intermittent but strong signal coming from the Seismic SIG who will host their second conference in London in January 2008.
Whether you wish to learn, contribute a paper in conference or meet like minded geoscientists and engineers socially you will always be made most welcome if you attend any event. The
meetings of these regional and special groups, and contact names are advertised on the Society’s website. All meetings are open to members, although the conferences do charge admission to cover expenses. The council is keen to promote the creation of more regional branches and special interest groups, so if you would like to start an environmental or Caspian SIG; or even the Mumbai Branch of the PESGB, then please contact the office and we will be pleased to consider supporting your embryonic branch or group.
Incidentally Carl Linnaeus, would have classified the PESGB members as Homo diurnus which translates to Man of the Day – sounds like something on a cannibals’ menu!