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Department of Earth Sciences


John Reekie

In 2004, a group of John Reekie's former Geology students resolved to commemorate his life and inspirational teaching by founding an annual Geology Prize in the Department of of Earth Sciences, a place he always loved.

"We dedicate the John Reekie Memorial Prize to a man who shaped and changed our lives. The Prize is to be awarded every academic year, commencing in 2005, for the best fieldwork report submitted as part of the requirements for the Bachelor Degree."

Read more about John Reekie, MA (1899-1982)

Reekie Memorial Prize 2020

The Reekie Memorial Prize for 2020 was awarded by the Part II Examiners to Peter Methley (Selwyn).


My friends and I mapped an area in the Alpine Foreland near the town of Castellane, in South-East France.

The sequence of sedimentary rocks tells a tale of deepening Tethys Ocean waters during the Triassic and Jurassic, followed by uplift in the Cretaceous and Palaeocene. In the Eocene and Oligocene, conglomerates, highly-fossiliferous marls, nummulitic sandstones and limestones were deposited in a foreland basin in front of the young Alps. As this was happening, north to south compression formed a series of tight folds and intricate faults in the sedimentary cover as it moved southwards over a gypsum-lubricated décollement. By the Miocene, a reconfiguration of the subducting slab geometry and the gravitational collapse of the Alpine hinterland changed the compression direction to ENE~WSW, giving the area some excellent examples of refolded folds and reactivated faults.

Other geological highlights that we found include a limestone unit containing hundreds of ammonites, a petrographically-fascinating partially-dedolomitised rock, the shells of giant oysters, and the remarkably well-preserved skeletons of an Eocene ancestor to the dugong! Of course, the views were also spectacular, although they did come with the cost of having to climb 500-metre-high mountains on a regular basis.

We also had plenty of time for non-geological fun, be it skimming stones on the nearby lake, swimming in the rain, riding a pedalo up the Gorges du Verdon or eating our way through the local shop’s entire range of ice-cream! We even had time to go on some touristy road-trips to Cannes and Monaco (which both happen to be built on cool geology as well). Overall, going mapping was a fantastic experience, and I wish I could go back there now!

View the winning map in more detail

Previous Reekie Memorial Prize Winners


Peter Methley

Selwyn Geology of the Unité de Taulanne, France

Andrew Sheat

Emmanuel The Geology of the area surrounding Bonaventure, Newfoundland, Canada

James Kershaw

Emmanuel The Geology of the Kranea Basin, Northern Greece, and its relationship to Pindos Ophiolite

Carrie Soderman

St John's Geology of Change Islands, Newfoundland

Emily Mason

Peterhouse The Geology of the Orcières Complex, French Alp
2015 Charlotte Jackson Jesus College Geology of the Chanaillet Ophiolite and the Lago Nero-Replatte Thrust Sheet, Montgenevre, France
2015 Matthew Varnam Christ's College The Geology around Villaminin, North Western Spain
2015 Matty O'Toole-Howes Trinity College The Geology of Northern Uto, Sweden
2014 Simon Matthews St Catherine's College The Fronalp Region, Glarus Alps, Switzerland
2013 Hannah Snellgrove Gonville and Caius The Geology of Southern Unst, Shetland Islands
2012 Joanna Hall Gonville and Caius Geology of the Waitetuna wstuary and Otonga hills area, Raglan, Waikato State New Zealand
2011 Tim Middleton Jesus College Geology of the part of the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada
2011 Alicia Davies Queen's College The Geology of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada
2010 Nicola Pocock Clare College The Geology of the Cape and Karoo Basins, 5km SE of Laingsburg South Africa
2009 David Neave Queen's College The Geology of the Vue des Alpes Region Southeast of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchatel Canton, Switzerland
2008 Kirsty Dawkes Clare College Geology East of Matjiesfontein, Lainsburg Karoo, South Africa
2007 Robert Myhill Peterhouse The Geology of the Vourinos Ophiolitic Sole, Northern Greece
2006 David Wilson Jesus College Geology of the Broadford area, Isle of Skye