Professor David Pyle awarded Geological Society Murchison Medal

Professor David Pyle awarded Geological Society Murchison Medal

Professor David Pyle is the recipient of the 2024 Murchison Medal, awarded by the Geological Society of London for his considerable contributions to the field of volcanology.

The Murchison Medal is awarded to geologists who have contributed significantly to ‘hard’ rock studies, and was established under the will of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792-1871). Murchison was a Scottish geologist who first described the Silurian and Devonian successions in Britain, among other achievements, in a long and distinguished career.

Professor Pyle, who is an internationally recognised volcanologist who has made outstanding contributions to understanding volcanic deposits and processes, was awarded the accolade for his decades of research using pioneering methods to characterise and classify tephra fall deposits and infer erupted volumes. Highlights of David’s work include his research on the frequency and triggers of eruptions, the geochemistry of gas emissions, the effects of volcanism on climate, environment and society, and on understanding volcanic risk.

“I am thrilled to receive this award, and will be delighted to accept it on behalf of all of the amazing people I have had the pleasure of working with over many years.”

– Professor David Pyle

Professor Pyle was the first Academic Director of Oxford’s Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research from 2013-2022. He is a keen collaborator and was involved in the STREVA project (2012-2019) – Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas – and is currently part of The Oxford Martin Programme on Rethinking Natural Resources.

Exhibition promotional poster for "Volcanoes" at the Bodleian in 2017

He is also committed to public engagement and has written two popular books and curated two exhibitions, including one on volcanoes at the Bodleian in 2017 (pictured) and one on the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa with Google Arts and Culture. In Summer 2023 he was an integral part of an exhibition titled Sensing Volcanoes at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition, which had over 10,000 visitors. The hands-on activity, the centre piece of which was an interactive ‘imaginarium’, showcased Oxford’s world-leading expertise in volcanology and illustrated the realities of living in the shadow of a volcano.


“I am thrilled to see David’s outstanding research recognised with this major award. The Murchison Medal is a testament to David’s outstanding research, not just in volcanology, but the broader field of geology. I would also note his wider work at the interface between the arts/humanities and science and his truly collegial manor in research, championing equality and diversity. He joins a list of distinguished geologists in a prize that has been awarded since 1873.”

– Professor Mike Kendall, Head of Department

Reflecting on his award, Professor Pyle said “I first encountered volcanoes at the age of 7, in Chile. I have been both privileged and fortunate to spend my research career working on or around volcanoes, and have derived so much pleasure from sharing my volcanic interests and experiences with many different audiences.”

The full list of 2024 award winners can be found on the Geological Society website.