2007 Dorothy Hill Medal Winner

Dr Chris Fergusson
Chris Fergusson's Citation - presented by Cec Murray

Chris Fergusson first established an interest in regional geology and tectonics through research as a graduate student at the University of New England in which he developed new understanding of subduction complex processes and facies based on rocks of the CoffsHarbour block within the Tablelands Complex of eastern New South Wales.  This lead to the recognition, and a much improved understanding, of Late Palaeozoic subduction complex terranes in the Southern New England Orogen in general, including those represented in Queensland.

Dr Cec Murray (left) and Dr Chris Fergusson (right) at the Awards Night.

Such research lead directly to investigation of coastal tracts of the northern New England Orogen of central Queensland work undertaken in collaboration with Evan Leitch and Bob Henderson.  In particular it resulted in the sedimentary, structural, metamorphic characterization of the Shoalwater and Wandilla terranes and improved understanding of these and adjoining assemblages within the broad-scale fabric of the northern New England Orogen.

An important contribution to the structure of the folded zone of the Bowen Basin and of Permian rocks within the Gogango Overfolded Zone also resulted from investigation of the northern New England Orogen and research on the Campwynterrane, in collaboration with Bob Henderson and John Wright, assisted in characterizing and understanding what had previously been a poorly known element of Queensland geology.

In recent years Chris, assisted by a range of collaborators, has made great progress in understanding the nature and significance of metamorphic terranes in north eastern Queensland including the Anakie Inlier, assemblages of the Townville hinterland within the Charters Towers Province and the eastern part of the Georgetown Inlier. This work, now just reaching the stage of publication, has led to a much improved understanding of the Neoproterozoic – Cambrian tectonic setting of the Queensland sector of the Tasman Orogenic Zone, and the recognition of an important Early Ordovician extensional phase in its tectonic history. Besides these direct contributions to Queensland geology, Chris has made a major contributions to understanding of the Lachlan Fold Belt within the New South Wales sector of the Tasman Orogenic Zone, work that has direct implications for the large scale interpretation of crustal fabrics in the eastern part of Queensland.

Response of thanks by Chris Fergusson
I thank the Queensland Division of the Geological Society of Australia very much for this award. It is a particular honour for me to receive this medal.  Dorothy Hill is well known both for her work in palaeontology and her contributions to the geology of Queensland.  I see in the latest issue of “The Australian Geologist” that we have been invited to suggest what AuScope might find in the subsurface across the Tasman Line in north Queensland.  Of course, the Tasman Line is a term that Professor Hill thought of and over 50 years later it is still in widespread use.  The past recipients of the Dorothy Hill Medal are a most distinguished group but I can claim a singular and unusual characteristic in that I have never lived in Queensland.  This makes me feel most privileged.

I acknowledge the support and companionship of quite a few collaborators in studying Queensland geology over the past twenty years or so.  Much of the work I have undertaken in Queensland has been as part of a team and I am pleased to have worked with such competent geologists. I will not refer to them all as that would risk me leaving out some important people.  So I will restrict myself to three people who come to mind.  Bob Henderson is notable for his drive and enthusiasm for regional geology with some palaeontology on the side.  Of course, Evan Leitch played a major role in our work in the northern New England Fold Belt in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Finally, I acknowledge Ian Withnall for his vast knowledge of Queensland geology and the quiet, efficient and competent manner by which he goes about his work.  I could continue but I think I shall close as the plan is that you will hear more from me tonight. Once again thank you very much.