JIS News

The Geological Society of Jamaica has been urged to more effectively communicate information in a manner that will empower citizens to act in an informed manner.
“It must be part of your charge to lobby for intelligent and adaptive public policy that is based on your specialist knowledge. Public policy that will allow Jamaicans to better manage their environment and build their quality of life,” Chairman of the Gleaner Company, Oliver Clarke told participants at the opening ceremony of the Society’s 50th anniversary conference, today (December 1), at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
He urged members of the Society to “focus urgently on giving the Jamaican human a better advantage over his environment”.
“I would urge you to build the partnerships that are needed, not only to expand your knowledge base, but also the urgent utilisation of the incredible array of frightening but very practical information that you now have. Today is the age of the environment and everyone is interested in saving the environment.you have the skills to give understanding of the environment,” the Chairman urged.
Mr. Clarke said the discipline of geosciences had helped to transform human lives, “how we think about our origins and how we better utilize the resources that dominate our world”.
He stressed that there has never been a greater need in Jamaica for the average citizen to understand the natural world that surrounds and interacts with his/her daily life.
“Hurricanes are sweeping over us with frightening force and frequency. The biggest growth market is bottled water; rain is coming down in unheard of quantities, river banks are no longer the ideal home site, land seems to be slipping around in ways that it should really not.our coral reefs are under threat, and Kingston becomes less visible day by day under smog,” Mr. Clarke noted.
He further encouraged geologists to combine knowledge and skills to help the average Jamaican, for example in the parishes of Westmoreland, Trelawny, Manchester, St.Ann and Portland to improve their quality of life. “Your studies in better construction material, better management of mineral resources, putting our seas and reefs into better health, ensuring safe water supplies, all of these are of enormous help,” he added.
Minister of Land and Environment, Dean Peart, in opening the two-day conference, said the Geological Society of Jamaica had made its mark on the Jamaican landscape.
The Minister said he was particularly pleased with the plan to erect several geological heritage sites across the island, as this would help citizens to have a sense of history and rich cultural legacy. “All of these plans will help to improve the overall contribution of the geosciences and training and by extension our Jamaica land we love,” he said.
The conference will, among other things, highlight the importance of the geosciences, feature some 40 technical papers covering topics in stratigraphy, general geology, geochemistry, geophysics, tetonics and seismology, water resources management, environmental geology, geoheritage, economic geology, natural hazards and industrial minerals. These topics will be discussed by local and international geologists and stakeholders. There will also be a related exhibition that will be open to schools and the general public.
Participants will be taken on field trips, which include a tour of Kingston on December 3. The trip will illustrate how geology impacts on daily life in an urban setting. Meanwhile, the St. Thomas excursion, also scheduled for December 3, will highlight the evolutionary features of the island. On Sunday, December 4 there will be a geo-heritage walking tour of Port Royal, which contains the most diverse array of the late 17th to early 19th century imported building stones in Jamaica.
The Geological Society of Jamaica was established in 1955 to foster the progress and diffusion of the science of geology and to encourage research and development of new methods. In 1959, it was decided to break the connection with the Geologists Association of London, from which the local Society was modeled. In 1961the Geological Survey Department was relocated from the Institute of Jamaica to its present location in Hope Gardens.
A Geology Department was established at the University College of the West Indies and the teaching of geology at the undergraduate level provided a reservoir of local professional geologists.
The society has continued to flourish over the years, having published more than 500 technical papers in 48 volumes of its journal and held more than 16 special conferences and workshops. Some 200 field excursions have been held across the island and 17 scholarships have been awarded for persons to complete their degrees in Geology at the University of the West Indies.
President of the Society, Parris Lyew-Ayee, welcomed the participants at the conference. He is also General Manager of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI).

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