Geoff Tanner Remembered

By SGA Member Dr Bruce Mair

With input from Alexandra Tataran, Archivist and Records Officer, British Antarctic Survey

It is with regret that I report on the passing of Peter William Geoffrey (Geoff) Tanner earlier this year. He played a significant role in completing the geological mapping of South Georgia in the 1970s.

Geoff was a graduate of Sheffield University in the 1960s and moved to Imperial College London to work on his doctorate. His thesis, entitled “Structural and Metamorphic history of the Kinloch Hourn area, Inverness-shire” was submitted in 1965, and established his specialisation in structural geology. Thereafter, at the University of Leeds, he worked on the Precambrian of Connemara, and in the early 1970s on the structural setting of ore bodies in the Rwenzori of Uganda. Complex geology in complex field areas!

He joined the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in 1973 as a Principal Scientific Officer (PSO) with the Earth Sciences Unit (Birmingham University) and in 1976 transferred to Earth Science Division (BAS Cambridge). He was responsible for coordinating the final geological mapping programmes of South Georgia, and management of BAS geologists tasked previously to do so, both in the United Kingdom and in the field.

Geoff on crevasse rescue practice in Derbyshire before going into the field on South Georgia.

He conducted field work from King Edward Point (Base M), and along the southwestern coastline during the 1973-74 and 1975-76 austral summers respectively. His team of geologists included Roger Clayton, David Macdonald, Bruce Mair, Rory Mortimore, Tim Pettigrew, Phil Stone and Bryan Storey. Under Geoff’s leadership, their field work and research, was published in a series of BAS Scientific Reports, BAS Bulletins and external geological publications. Geoff and his team finally completed the first comprehensive geological mapping of South Georgia, established the ages of the various stratigraphic and lithological units, and placed South Georgia in its regional context within the Scotia Arc and in relationship to the Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Andes.

Geoff left BAS in 1979 and joined the Geology Department of Glasgow University, and subsequently became an Honorary Research Fellow in 1990. He suffered from Parkinson’s Disease in later life but nevertheless maintained his formidable reputation as an authority on the structural geology of the Scottish Highlands. In recognition, he was awarded the Clough Medal by the Edinburgh Geological Society in 2008. Geoff leaves his wife, Judith, a daughter and a son.

For a photo of Geoff see the official obituary on the Geological Society website:

Geoff is commemorated on the map of South Georgia by Tanner Island. The APC Gazetteer states “It is the largest and westernmost of Pickersgill Islands, rising to 145 m, [and] was named after Peter William Geoffrey Tanner (b. 1938), BAS geologist, who worked on the island, 1975-76 (APC, 1979, p. 3).

Snapshot from Antarctic Placenames Committee – see

His key papers relating to South Georgia are:

  • TANNER , P W G, and D C REX. 1979. Timing of events in an Early Cretaceous island arc – marginal basin system on South Georgia. 1979. Geological Magazine, 116 (3), 167-179.
  • TANNER, P W G, STOREY B C, and D I M. MACDONALD. 1981. Geology of an Upper Jurassic – Lower Cretaceous island-are assemblage in Hauge Reef, the Pickersgill Islands and adjoining areas of South Georgia. BAS Bulletin, 53, 77-118.
  • STOREY, B C, and TANNER, P W G. 1982. Geochemistry of a Mesozoic island-arc assemblage and ocean floor basalts from South Georgia. BAS Bulletin, 56, 7-24.
  • TANNER, P W G. 1982a. Geologic Evolution of South Georgia. In: Craddock, C. (ed.) Antarctic Geoscience. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 167-176.
  • TANNER, P W G. 1982b. Geology of Shag Rocks, part of a continental block on the North Scotia Ridge, and possible regional correlations. BAS Bulletin, 51, 125-136.
  • TANNER, P W G, and MACDONALD, D I M. 1982. Models for the deposition and simple shear deformation of a turbidite sequence in the South Georgia portion of the southern Andes back-arc basin. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 139, 739-754.
  • THOMSON, M R A, TANNER, P W G, and REX, D C. 1982. Fossil and radiometric evidence for ages of deposition and metamorphism of sedimentary sequences on South Georgia. In: Craddock, C. (ed.) Antarctic Geoscience. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 177-184.

GSGSSI Annual Report 2022

The Government of South Georgia has just published their 2022 annual report.

Alternatively you can download it directly from our own archive:

GSGSSI Annual Report 2022 (3.05 MB)

SGA Initiative Fund Award to Shackleton Stage Project

This year the Association has awarded a grant to James Burke and colleagues for a project entitled ‘Beyond South Georgia’ the aims of which are the production of marketing materials to promote the story of Shackleton’s incredible journey from Antarctica to South Georgia and the subsequent rescue of his expedition from Elephant Island. The ultimate aim is to bring this story, and the people and the environments in it, to the stage.

The project will involve a series of workshops to experiment with applying sound and movement to a text in order to generate the artistic ideas to captivate audiences from the stage. Using a videographer to film the workshops, a stage designer to create concept art and a graphic designer to knit it into a cohesive marketing image for moving towards a full stage production. The South Georgia Association is very proud to support such an unusual and worthwhile project.

Morag Husband Campbell Medal 2023 Awarded to Dr Frederik Paulsen

The South Georgia Association is delighted to announce the award for the sixth year of the Morag Husband Campbell medal for 2023 to Dr Frederik Paulsen, in recognition of his “outstanding and sustained support for the ecological restoration, preservation of heritage and enhancement of scientific knowledge of South Georgia”

Morag Husband Campbell Medal 2023 – Call for Nominations

The South Georgia Association is inviting nominations for the award of the Morag Husband Campbell medal for the sixth year.

MHC Medal
The Morag Husband Campbell Medal

The Medal has been made possible by a generous bequest from a long-standing and enthusiastic supporter of the Association, Miss Morag Husband Campbell.

It comprises a Sterling silver relief medallion, 60mm in diameter. The name of the recipient and the year will be inscribed on the reverse. It is intended to award the Medal every year or every other year depending upon nominations.

Morag Husband Campbell
Morag Husband Campbell

The Association has agreed that the Medal should be awarded to individuals who have contributed significantly to the understanding, appreciation and promotion of South Georgia. This would encompass

  • i) scientific studies as well as in the arts and humanities including culture, history, heritage, artistic endeavour etc.,
  • ii) adventurous travel and “exploration”, or
  • iii) activities which enhance the wider appreciation of South Georgia (e.g. in the media or through administrative functions).

Nominations (self-nominations are not permitted) should be made on an official Nomination Form available below and from the Secretary of the Association. to whom they should be sent no later than 28 February 2023 .

The award would be made in 2023 at the Annual General Meeting of the Association. Given present uncertainties regarding Covid-19 in the UK the AGM may be either delayed or conducted by video streaming.

Professor David J Drewry
Chair SGA

Download the Nomination Form Here:

Morag Husband Campbell Medal Nomination Form 2023 (35.00 KB)

Download the Press Release (ie the content of this page) Here:

Morag Husband Campbell Medal 2023 – Press Release (622.87 KB)

‘SG Then and Now’ Talk is Online

The SGA Online Talk of 22 April 2022, “South Georgia Then and Now – 1982 And All That” with Bob Headland, Pat Lurcock, and Jamie Coleman can now be seen on our YouTube channel. You can see this, and our previous talks, on the SGA Video Recordings page via the Resources menu on our website.

Delivering PSI Published

The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) have published details of the programme that will implement the ‘Protect, Sustain, Inspire’ approach to managing the territory.

Morag Husband Campbell Medal 2022 Awarded to Tony Martin

The South Georgia Association is delighted to announce the award for the Morag Husband Campbell Medal for 2022 to Professor Tony Martin, “in recognition of his outstanding and dedicated contributions to South Georgia – in particular his pivotal role in the South Georgia Heritage Trust Habitat Restoration Programme of the Island and as a consequence promoting a wider appreciation of these islands”

Frank Hurley's CLassic Grytviken Panorame

RGS Shackleton’s Legacy Exhibition is Open

The Royal Geographic Society in London are currently holding an exhibition – Shackleton’s legacy and the power of early Antarctic photography – that is now open until 4 May. It is free.

The South Georgia Association supported the creation of this exhibition, so do go along and see how it looks.

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