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The William Smith Medal

The 2015 William Smith Medal winner is Anthony Doré

The William Smith, Lyell and Murchison Medals are of equal status. The Society regards them very highly and they are not normally awarded on the basis of a few good papers or achievements. In the past, Council has often looked for some breadth as well as depth in the contributions before awarding these Medals.

The William Smith Medal is awarded for excellence in contributions to applied and economic aspects of geoscience. Candidates must have initiated significant contributions, which will normally take the form of published papers and verifiable achievements in the application of geoscience, although in view of the confidential nature of the work in the case of some candidates, other criteria may be used as the basis of the award.


The medal named for William Smith celebrates outstanding achievement in the field of applied geology, and this year we are delighted to present it to Professor Tony Doré OBE, of Statoil. During a distinguished career, Tony Doré has addressed a variety of geological topics. He combined current academic research with the wealth of offshore data becoming increasingly available to industry during the 1980s and 1990s, to create a series of tectonic-palaeogeographic syntheses of the North Atlantic-Arctic region. These are widely referred-to as a basis for exploration, research, and as a source of testable postulates – for example, the key role of reactivated basement structures during the evolution of the Atlantic-Arctic Rift.

A continuing thread of his research has been the development of Cenozoic compression-inversion structures on the North Atlantic margin. Although a passive margin like many others, post-breakup compressional deformation seems to be a global paradigm, and the resulting structures important exploration targets. Tony, and colleague Erik Lundin, have documented the timing and geometry of such structures on the North Atlantic margin and shown how pre-existing structure is implicated. He and others have lately extended this approach to the relationship between hyper-extension and mantle serpentinisation, leading to a new paradigm for Atlantic margins, with worldwide potential.

Tony has been a key figure in researching passive margin uplift and exhumation – for example, the enigmatic late development of highlands around the North Atlantic, and the potentially radical effect that exhumation of marginal basins may have on hydrocarbon potential. This work is of exceptional economic importance to the UK and other countries bordering the region. Tony Doré, you have been phenomenally active, forging links between industry and academia through your writing, editing, organising and collaborating over the past 25 years - and it is my great pleasure to award you the William Smith Medal of The Geological Society of London.


This award is the high point of my career to date, made all the more wonderful by receiving it on the bicentenary of William Smith’s great map. While I realize that the timing was just the luck of the draw, I’m sure you’ll understand what a great buzz this is for a regional geologist, since Smith was not only the father of English geology, but arguably the father of regional geology too.

On first reading, the citation you just heard seemed almost unreal, as if written about somebody else. But yes - I guess I did do all that stuff, albeit with a lot of help and encouragement from others. Make no mistake about it – trying to keep a foothold in academia and participate in the wider geoscience community, while holding down a series of very demanding jobs in the oil industry, is not easy. There was seldom any time for extracurricular activity, so writing scientific papers in what is laughably termed my “spare time” required a real love of the science, not to mention a certain dogged persistence. It also required a lot of tolerance on the part of others, for which I will always be grateful. Luckily, the two companies under whose umbrellas I did this work, Conoco and Statoil, showed a quite visionary attitude. They knew my interests motivated me in my day job, and they gained some significant fringe benefits, too. My wife Barbara, herself a natural scientist by training, knows that I am never happier than when I have my teeth into a geological project. She is extraordinarily tolerant, and a constant source of inspiration.

I am so glad that my long-term sparring partner, Erik Lundin, is acknowledged in the citation. Almost all of the ideas I am associated with were jointly evolved with Erik, often over a glass of beer and a plate of chili beef. I hope you will not mind if I jointly dedicate this award to him. If there is a Swedish equivalent of the William Smith Medal, he should be first in line! Health permitting, we have no intention of letting up, with our current attention turning to volcanic margins, transform margins and Arctic geology.

It’s customary at awards ceremonies to thank your mum and dad, and I am definitely not going to buck the trend. Without those hiking trips in Derbyshire, where I picked up my first fossils and minerals – and without my parents’ encouragement as they sensed the stirring of interest – I would never have started down this rewarding path. But on this occasion I want most of all to thank the Society, my proposers and supporters for this great and unexpected honour, and for a medal I will treasure forever.


The Arctic and the Dark Art of Regional Geology

Geology Society President's Day, June 3rd 2015.