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The University of Southampton

Major Geological Society award for Southampton scientist

Published: 24 July 2008

One of the UK’s highest awards in geology has been granted to Professor Martin Sinha of the School of Ocean and Earth Science, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS).

Professor Sinha has been awarded the Geological Society's William Smith Medal for 2008. The medal recognises his outstanding contribution to the development of seafloor controlled source electromagnetic surveying - a technique for mapping the variations in electrical resistivity beneath the sea floor, to depths of several kilometres.

Application of this method, which was first used to locate fluids around mid-ocean ridges, has led to the creation of a major new sector in the hydrocarbon exploration industry. The work also led to the establishment, in 2002, of a highly successful spin-out company, Offshore Hydrocarbon Mapping (OHM) Ltd, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

A marine geophysicist, Martin Sinha is a former co-chair of the Centre’s Geology and Geophysics Research Group.

The William Smith Medal was first awarded by the Geological Society in 1977, and it recognises excellence in contributions to applied and economic aspects of the science.

The William Smith Medal adds to the Distinguished Achievement Award, presented to the University of Southampton last year by the US-based Society of Exploration Geophysicists, also in recognition of Martin Sinha’s work.

Adding his congratulations, Professor Andrew Roberts, Head of the University’s School of Ocean and Earth Science, said: “Martin has contributed something to Earth Science that few could dream of. He is a thoroughly deserving winner of this medal, which is a testament to the creative, groundbreaking nature of his work.”

At the same awards ceremony, held at the Geological Society of London's headquarters in Burlington House, Dr Ian West, former School of Ocean and Earth Science lecturer, was awarded the R H Worth Prize.

The award recognises important geological research carried out by amateur geologists, or for the encouragement of geological research by amateurs. It was presented to Ian to honour his exceptional contribution to widening access to high-quality geological information for professionals and the public through his award-winning website - - on the geology of Dorset's Jurassic Coast.

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