Archive by Author

The Elixir of Data

“Without data, you are just another asshole with an opinion”, said John Ferm standing at the blackboard, chalk in one hand and a cigar in the other with smoke swirling around his head (this was, after all, 1985). It’s a phrase John (my MSc and PhD advisor) would often use when we, his students, started […]

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Rock’n to Heavy Metal in New Zealand – The ‘Little’ Book that Could

I was flying through the chill Christchurch air with my arms outstretched like some newbie superhero about to make a hard landing on frosty, frozen gravel. I had just been cycling through Hagley Park on my way to work thinking about how to put together a disparate set of papers for a book when I […]

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New Paper (and Poster): Isotopes and organics in the Early Cretaceous of Inner Mongolia

Though mostly overlooked by sedimentologists and climatologists coal provides highly detailed information on past climates and tectonics. In a recent paper* by myself and my colleagues (available Here) we take a look at a very thick (>40 m) coal of Early Cretaceous age in Inner Mongolia, near the borders with Russia and Mongolia. Using stable […]

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Two Geologists Walk into a Bar or Organic Proxies for Climate and Environmental Research – New Paper

Two geologists walk into a bar. The first orders a ‘Flaming Volcano’ (he’s a neo-tectonics/Quaternary guy). Without blinking an eye the bartender asks him what sort of rum he’d like. The second geologist orders a ‘Black Coal’ Stout (she is an organic petrologist). Everyone in the bar freezes then slowly slinks out the door …. […]

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Winner – Geoscience Society of New Zealand Photography Contest

There is a certain similarity between rocks and photography. I suppose it has to do with stopping time. When I look at an outcrop of sediment, whether it is from the Quaternary or the Cambrian, it is like a snapshot of time for me, frozen, and waiting for interpretation. When I take a photo, I […]

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Cipher is Ten

It was like jumping off the end of a pier into unknown depths with unknown dangers – but a quick calculation (in actuality lots of deep reflection) indicated that it was safe…-ish; nevertheless it was exhilarating. Thus, Cipher was born. In early September 2010 Cipher started trading and by late September we had our first […]

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How Many Holes Does It Take to Fill the Albert Hall?

It would not be untrue, though perhaps unwise, to say to a burly coal miner ‘your coal is full of holes’. Indeed, a fundamental property which makes coal such a special and unique material – and has implications for coal properties ranging from not just methane holding capacity but also activated carbon and liquefaction – […]

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Coming into Coal: Part 1

Sometimes I am asked how I became a coal geologist. My son has asked me several times; sometimes because he has forgotten, sometimes because he just wants to hear a good story from his Dad. More than seldom I get asked by random people; some curious how a scientist starts out (and stays) being a […]

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Field Work in the Senakin Peninsula: Part III – NEW PAPER

The fruits – as they say – had finally ripened and what fell off the tree? A paper of course*. A nice fat, juicy paper about those lovely Eocene-age volcanics that lie within the Senakin Peninsula. After a couple of decades wondering when someone would publish on the basalts and volcaniclastic sediments in Kalimantan Selatan […]

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Turn around and you’re… TEN? – Whoa!

No, not my son, Micah, but a paper. Well, not quite ten, but it was ten years this month that I was asked, and then accepted, to write a review paper on coalbed methane*.   It took about another two years until it was actually published** but the work began in May 2010. It took […]

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