[HASN logo] No. 33, August-September 1994 ISSN 0811-4757
Edited and published by Tim Sherratt (Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au) for ASAP.

[Reports logo] INHIGEO Conference

The 19th International Symposium of the International Commission for the History of the Geological Sciences (INHIGEO) was held at the Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Sydney between 4-8 July, 1994. Several sessions were also held at the Australian Museum and the Library of New South Wales.

The theme initially chosen for the symposium was 'The history of the geological sciences in the Pacific region', when planning began in 1992. The initial response was encouraging, some 30 papers being offered. Thirty-four papers eventuated, covering a somewhat wider range than anticipated, with six papers dealing with aspects of the history of Asian geology.

Of course it was never envisaged that the meeting would produce a definitive history of the geological sciences in the Pacific region, if such is possible, but the diverse range of papers showed many surprising links in themes and personalities, and were notable for the quality of presentation and the discussions they provoked.

The papers were pre-printed in a 350 plus page volume entitled Useful and Curious Geological Enquiries beyond the World, a title made up of 18th century quotes from Johann Forster, James Cook and Arthur Phillip, with the addition of 'Geological' to please the bibliographers.

Some fifty inquiring minds attended the friendly meeting, a few locals opting for one day registration. Fourteen came from abroad (New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan). Sadly INHIGEO Secretary, Ursula Marvin, was prevented through illness at the last minute from attending, however her report of the 1993 activities of INHIGEO was distributed at the meeting.

Three excursions were held in association with the meeting. There was a midweek one day trip to the Blue Mountains on a perfect winter day, visiting Werner's Precipice and other points of historical geological interest. Weekend visits before and after the conference were made to the Hunter Valley in the steps of Leichhardt, Strzelecki and Edgeworth David, and to Narooma on the South Coast of New South Wales 'in search of lost (or forgotten) geologists Lamont Young, William Anderson and Ida Brown.' On both occasions the weather was kind, the company invigorating, providing an excellent blend of physical and intellectual stimulus for those who attended.

Social events included a 'book launch' at the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, thanks to Curator, Julian Holland, in association with the opening of the display of historical books (most from the Tomkeieff collection of the Rare Books Department of the University) and artefacts. This display, 'Aspects of Geological History', will continue at the Museum until early December.

A conference dinner in St. John's College, with musical (?) entertainment, including geological songs by the Sans Tones, proved a pleasant interlude.

The meeting and conference volume were dedicated to the memory of the late Tom Vallance, a foundation member of INHIGEO and for some years a Vice-President. INHIGEO is a working commission of the International Union of Geological Sciences, and is affiliated with the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science. Both bodies gave generous financial support to the meeting. Membership of INHIGEO is by election through nomination by official bodies in each country, or by the executive of INHIGEO, which changes every four years. David Oldroyd (NSW) and Max Banks (Tas) were elected at the Business Meeting of INHIGEO, as was Alan Mason of New Zealand. Other Australian members at present are David Branagan (President, 1992-96), Barry Cooper and David Corbett (SA), Tom Darragh and Neil Archbold (Vic).

Future activities of INHIGEO for the next three years were formalised at the meeting. In September 1995 there will be the 20th Symposium on 'Volcanoes and History' in Southern Italy, 1996 will be held in Beijing, in conjunction with the International Geological Congress, and August 1997 will commemorate James Hutton and Charles Lyell in Britain.

The meeting brought together an interesting cross-section of researchers: geologists and historians, many of the former making their first foray into historical matters, and finding it both interesting and challenging, while some of the latter were moving into geological topics with similar results. Hopefully the mix will continue to produce a really good cake, in time.

The INHIGEO symposium was planned and carried through by the present committee of the Earth Sciences History Group of the Geological Society of Australia: David Branagan (Chairman), Greg McNally (Secretary), Alan Day (Treasurer), with committee members Bill Chesnut, John Wennerborn and Michael Shortland.

Only 150 copies of the Conference Proceedings were printed. It is available for $44 (cost price, includes postage) from Greg McNally, School of Applied Geology, University of New South Wales. Cheques should be made out to GSA-ESHG.

-David Branagan

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