Longtime Commitment to Earth Science Earns Geologist Prestigious Medal | APEGA

Longtime Commitment to Earth Science Earns Geologist Prestigious Medal

Brian Jones, P.Geol., heads south in October to spend some time in the beautiful Cayman Islands — but not for a holiday. He’ll be attending Geology Week, volunteering his time to teach students, teachers, and government employees about the geology of the islands.

Brian Jones, P.Geol.

This location, visited here by Dr. Brian Jones, P.Geol., is Frog’s Mouth, featuring a temperature of about 100 C. It’s in the Tengchong geothermal area in the province of Yunnan, China. And now for something completely different, the Logan Medal recipient is off to the Cayman Islands for the territory’s Geology Week. - Photo courtesy of Dr. Brian Jones, P.Geol.

It’s a subject he’s intimately familiar with, having spent the last three decades of his career regularly visiting the islands to study the carbonates found there — limestone and dolostone mostly — to better understand what they can tell us about sedi­mentary process changes on Earth.

For the past three years he’s been sharing his knowledge in the classroom as part of a new program started by the Cayman Islands Water Authority. This typically includes 30 lectures over four days to 500 high school students, plus a one-day course for teachers and government employees.

“Many of the schools there follow the curriculum of the United Kingdom and geology is an integral part of the requirements, involving such subjects as plate tectonics, coral reefs, and the rock cycle,” he explains.

His research in the Cayman Islands is just one reason Dr. Jones was awarded the Logan Medal from the Geological Association of Canada in June. The association’s highest award, it honours Dr. Jones for his exemplary service to the Earth science community and his research on the role of organisms and fluids in the origin of carbonate sediments and rocks.

His interest in carbonates started when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Liverpool in the late 1960s. While this passion has taken him around the world, his studies have focused on Cayman Island carbonates, which are, geologi­cally speaking, mere babes at 30 million years old.

“Such studies provide a measure of the health of the environments in the face of universal changes such as ocean warming and ocean acidification and are critical to our understanding sediment generation changes with time,” Dr. Jones wote in a newsletter of the Royal Society of Canada, of which he’s a fellow.

Dr. Jones also studies hot spring deposits found in places like Kenya, New Zealand, Iceland, Chile, and Canada. More recently his focus has been on springs found in Yunnan Province, China. His research has provided a much clearer understanding of the role that microbes play in the formation of many different minerals.

A Distinguished Professor with the University of Alberta’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, he’s been a role model for thousands of undergraduate and graduate students over the past 40 years. Last year, he co-authored a textbook, Origin of Carbonate Sedimentary Rocks, with professor Noel James, and he’s currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Sedimentary Geology.

He’s also the recipient of the first Middleton Medal for Sedimentology and the Ambrose Medal, both awarded by the Geological Association of Canada.