Wellman Research Award

2023 Wellman Research Award winner:

Rachael Baxter


Rachael will undertake melting/equilibration experiments on alkali basalts from the Auckland Volcanic Field, to assess the final depth of storage for Auckland Volcanic Field magmas, and to calibrate a barometer for intra-plate magmas more generally.

Constraining the final depth of magma storage for volcanoes will assist with future hazard planning and eruption mitigation efforts.



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Past Wellman Research Award winners

Year Person From For
2022 Pedro Doll Canterbury Dating lava-forming eruptions from Mt Ruapehu, to improve estimates of the timing of these hazardous events.
2021 Ella Nisbet Massey Investigating the paleo-history of large, soft-rock landslides in the Manawatū/Rangitikei Region
2020 Marlena Prentice Waikato Investigating volcanism within the Kaimai and Tauranga volcanic centres, which took place during the transition in volcanic activity from the Coromandel Volcanic Zone to the Taupo Volcanic zone. 
2019 Andrew La Croix Waikato Combining oceanographic measurements with sediment coring to link the hydraulic processes and depositional record of mud in the Firth of Thames, North Island.
2018 Stephanie Junior Otago As to whether Au concentration, residence and mobility correlates to mantle chemistry, which may provide a new understanding of preferential emplacement of gold in Earth's crust.
2017 James Veitch Massey To utilise 10Be concentrations in alluvial and dune sediments as a proxy for major catchment disturbance in the Ruamahanga catchment, Wairarapa, during the late-glacial to Holocene.
2016 Rosie Cole Otago To experimentally reproduce interactions between deforming lava bodies and ice, to better understand processes involved with glaciovolcanic eruptions.
2015 Jack Williams Otago Alpine Fault zone structure.
2014 Eric Breard Massey Physical modelling of pyroclastic density currents. 
2013 Sarah Bastin Canterbury Palaeo-liquefaction research. 
2012 Paul Ashwell Canterbury The collapse and inflation of erupting lava domes.
2011 Felix Marx Otago Living & fossil baleen whales.
2010 Greg De Pascale Canterbury In-depth investigation to define the most recent dynamics of the Alpine Fault, the largest source of seismic hazard on the South Island.
2009 William Ries Victoria Locating active faults in eroded landscapes (South Taranaki) by developing a GIS extension to digitally analyse various geomorphic features.
2008 Alastair Clement Massey The geomorphic evolution of the lower Manawatu Valley, North Island.
2007 Deborah Crowley Massey Late Miocene-Pliocene Rangiauria Breccia of Pitt and Mangere Islands, Chathams Island
2006 No award made - -
2005 Katherine Holt Massey Quaternary stratigraphy,Chatham Islands
2004 Alex Winter-Billington Victoria Hydrology and motion of Brewster Glacier
2003 Philip Burge Canterbury Fossil beetles and timing of glaciation in New Zealand
2002 Derek Birks Massey Volcanic events on SW flanks of Mount Taranaki
2001 Richard Smith Waikato Magma residence times by ion microprobe analyses of zircon

Harold Wellman

Harold Wellman (1909-1999) was a scientist unrivalled in the remarkable contribution he made to our understanding of New Zealand earth science.  He had a varied and colourful early career as a gold miner, surveyor and geophysical survey assistant.  In 1937 he joined New Zealand Gological Survey's coal resources survey in Greymouth, which began his most productive period of research.  His intense geological debates with colleagues at the bar of the Albion Hotel in Greymouth are now legendary.  

Harold is best known for his recognition of the Alpine Fault, but his major contributions to advancing New Zealand earth science are many.  They included establishment of the New Zealand Fossil Record File, recognition of major displacements of rock in Northland, development of biostratigraphic stages for subdividing the New Zealand marine Cretaceous based on field observations and collections of fossil Inoceramus.

In the mid-1950s Harold had a short stint with British Petroleum in Gisborne before taking a position in the Geology Department at Victoria University of Wellington in 1958, an attachment he maintained even after his retirement in 1974.  Harold's international reputation in pioneering structural and tectil tonic geology was highlighted in a 1992 BBC Horizon documentary on him, titled "The Man that moved the Mountains."  

Harold and his wife Joan provided the funds for the first Harold Wellman Prize for an important fossil find, because in the 1980s he felt that the role of paleontology in geology was losing its former significance.  In 1998 they established the Wellman Research Awards to assist young geology researchers.