Earth Moves for Lifetime Contribution to Science!
A lifetime dedicated to geology and earth sciences earned Professor Peter Kamp the coveted Kudos and University of
Waikato Lifetime Achievement award, presented by Her Excellency Rt Hon. Dame Patsy Reddy at the Kudos Hamilton Science
Excellence Awards black tie dinner at Claudelands last Thursday night. !
Professor Peter Kamp has a distinguished 40 year-long record as a researcher, lecturer and administrator in the Faculty
of Science and Engineering at the University of Waikato. He has made substantial contributions to teaching in Earth
Sciences, including thesis supervision of numerous PhD and MSc students, most of whom, together with BSc graduates, have
taken up industry positions and excelled in exploration and mining companies, civil and environmental engineering
companies, and in research institutes in New Zealand and Australia.!
Professor Kamp’s work has been undertaken on a diverse range of geological features across New Zealand and in other
continental areas such as Tibet, China and Japan. The main methods I have applied to better understand the geological
development of these regions include: (i) radiometric dating of Uranium-bearing minerals such as zircon and apatite
separated from rock samples, and (ii), geological mapping of sedimentary basins. !
Geological maps are fundamental science outputs that enable geological resources to be identified and are useful for the
optimum location of infrastructure (roads) and life-lines. Knowing the distribution of rocks in combination with
description and analysis of the internal detail of formations has enabled the interpretation of the depositional
paleoenvironments in which these sediments accumulated and hence the geological development of the basins that contain
them and the associated paleogeography through time. He has also successfully correlated formations exposed in King
Country and Whanganui Basins with the same formations in subsurface Taranaki Basin, which has been useful to petroleum
exploration companies in their efforts to identify reservoirs containing oil and gas resources.!
The award recognises in particular the excellence of his research record in geological sciences, which includes
publication of 150 papers and science reports, most of them in international science journals. He is an authority on the
stratigraphic architecture of New Zealand sedimentary basins and has assisted petroleum companies in their exploration
efforts, particularly in Taranaki Basin. Amongst this work, and together with research students, he has geologically
mapped extensive parts of the King Country – Eastern Taranaki - northern Whanganui region as well as Central Hawke’s
Bay, some 18,000 km2 of countryside. !
Professor Kamp has set up three laboratories for radiometric dating of Uraniumbearing minerals and applied these methods
to establish the uplift and erosion history of the Southern Alps (South Island). As a result of his work, the Southern
Alps is acknowledged internationally as one of the fastest uplifting and eroding mountain belts in the world, being at
the speed limit of physical processes of uplift and erosion.
The eroded materials have been dispersed into surrounding sedimentary basins, and even into former marine basins as far
north as Hawke’s Bay and the King Country. !
Professor Kamp and his team have also applied radiometric dating methods to establish the uplift and erosion history of
the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (Longmen Shan), where it drops in elevation from 4500 m to 600 m above sea
level in Sichuan Basin, western China. Their extensive work defining the timing and magnitude of uplift in the Longmen
Shan provided a foundation for substantial scientific effort by Chinese geoscientists to better understand fault
structures following the devastating 2008 Wenchan Earthquake, in which 70,000 people died. !
“The success of science really comes down to three main areas” Peter says, “the relationship with people, the support of
an institution, and the resources in order to fund the operational aspect of our work along with the appointment of
researchers within ones group” he continues.!
The Kudos Lifetime Achievement Award winners are world leading in their fields and have included the late Professor
Peter Molan for his groundbreaking work on the healing properties of Manuka honey, Dr Rex Munday for his pioneering
discovery of the Zinc embolus for prevention of facial eczema in sheep and Dr Max Gibbs for his outstanding work on
water quality and fresh water ecology. !
The Kudos Awards annually recognise Hamilton and Waikato’s world leading science contribution and ground breaking
innovation in eight categories including Agriculture, Environmental, Engineering and Medical. !
For more information visit: www.thekudos.org.nz