Robert Stephen John Sparks

Last updated
Sir Steve Sparks
Born15 May 1949 (1949-05-15) (age 69)
Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England [1]
Alma mater Imperial College London
Awards Bigsby Medal (1985)
Murchison Medal (1998)
Thorarinsson Medal (2008)
Wollaston Medal (2011)
Vetlesen Prize (2015)
Royal Medal (2018)
Scientific career
Institutions University of Bristol
Doctoral advisor George P. L. Walker

Sir Robert Stephen John Sparks, CBE, FRS (born 15 May 1949), is Chaning Wills Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. He is one of the world's leading volcanologists and has been widely recognised for his work in this field.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

There have been four baronetcies created for members of the Wills family, owners of W. D. & H. O. Wills and the Imperial Tobacco Company. All four creations were in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom.

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also refer to the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.



Steve Sparks [2] is a graduate of Imperial College, where he first completed a B.Sc. (1971), and then a PhD (1974) under the supervision of George P. L. Walker. He was subsequently a Research Fellow at Lancaster University (1976–1978), a NATO postdoctoral fellow at the Graduate school of oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA (1976–1978), and then lecturer at University of Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences (1978–1989), where he was also a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He took up the Chaning Wills Chair of Geology at the University of Bristol in 1989. Steve has held a number of distinguished visiting positions at other universities, including a period as Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at California Institute of Technology in 1987, and as an Edward Bass Scholar [3] at Yale University (2006–2007).

George Patrick Leonard Walker FRS was a British geologist who specialized in mineralogy and volcanology.

Lancaster University research university in Lancaster, England

Lancaster University is a collegiate public research university in the City of Lancaster, Lancashire, England. The university was established by Royal Charter in 1964, one of several new universities created in the 1960s.

University of Rhode Island university in Rhode Island, USA

The University of Rhode Island, commonly referred to as URI, is the flagship public research as well as the land grant and sea grant university for the state of Rhode Island. Its main campus is located in the village of Kingston in southern Rhode Island. Additionally, smaller campuses include the Feinstein Campus in Providence, the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence, the Narragansett Bay Campus in Narragansett, and the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich.

Steve Sparks has been hugely influential in the fields of both volcanology and igneous petrology. He has published over 300 papers, which have been cited more than 10,000 times, and is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. [4] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1988 and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1998.

Royal Society English learned society for science

The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society is the United Kingdom's and Commonwealth of Nations' Academy of Sciences and fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.

American Geophysical Union Nonprofit organization of geophysicists

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of geophysicists, consisting of over 62,000 members from 144 countries. AGU's activities are focused on the organization and dissemination of scientific information in the interdisciplinary and international field of geophysics. The geophysical sciences involve four fundamental areas: atmospheric and ocean sciences; solid-Earth sciences; hydrologic sciences; and space sciences. The organization's headquarters is located on Florida Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Steve Sparks has a distinguished record of service to the geological community. He was President of the Geological Society of London from 1994–1996, [5] President of IAVCEI from 1999–2003, [6] and is President-elect of the VGP section of the American Geophysical Union for 2009. Steve Sparks was chair of the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise Panel for Earth Sciences. [7]

Geological Society of London learned society

The Geological Society of London, known commonly as the Geological Society, is a learned society based in the United Kingdom. It is the oldest national geological society in the world and the largest in Europe with more than 12,000 Fellows. Fellows are entitled to the postnominal FGS, over 2,000 of whom are Chartered Geologists (CGeol). The Society is a Registered Charity, No. 210161. It is also a member of the Science Council, and is licensed to award Chartered Scientist to qualifying members.

International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earths Interior organization

The International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) is a learned society that focuses on research in volcanology, efforts to mitigate volcanic disasters, and research into closely related disciplines, such as igneous geochemistry and petrology, geochronology, volcanogenic mineral deposits, and the physics of the generation and ascent of magmas in the upper mantle and crust. It is one of eight constituent associations of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG).

The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was an exercise undertaken approximately every 5 years on behalf of the four UK higher education funding councils to evaluate the quality of research undertaken by British higher education institutions. RAE submissions from each subject area are given a rank by a subject specialist peer review panel. The rankings are used to inform the allocation of quality weighted research funding (QR) each higher education institution receives from their national funding council. Previous RAEs took place in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1996 and 2001. The most recent results were published in December 2008. It was replaced by the Research Excellence Framework in 2014.

He became chair of ACME in 2012.

Sparks was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Birthday Honours for services to Environmental Sciences and a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to Volcanology and Geology. [8] [9] In 2018 he received the Royal Medal. [10]

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

The 2010 Birthday Honours for the Commonwealth realms were announced to celebrate the Queen's Birthday on 7 June 2010 in New Zealand, on 12 June 2010 in the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda, and on 13 June 2010 in Australia.

The dignity of Knight Bachelor is the basic and lowest rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised orders of chivalry; it is a part of the British honours system. Knights Bachelor are the most ancient sort of British knight, but Knights Bachelor rank below knights of chivalric orders.

Related Research Articles

Thorarinsson Medal

The Thorarinsson Medal is awarded every four years by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) for outstanding contributions to the general field of volcanology, and is the highest award given by IAVCEI. It is named for the Icelandic geologist and volcanologist Sigurdur Thorarinsson (1912–1983).

International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics

The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics is an international non-governmental organisation dedicated to the scientific study of the Earth and its space environment using geophysical and geodetic techniques.

Sigurður Þórarinsson Icelandic volcanologist

Sigurdur Thorarinsson was an Icelandic geologist, volcanologist, glaciologist, professor and lyricist. He is considered a pioneer in the field of tephrochronology, and he made significant contributions in many areas of geology, especially volcanology and glaciology, both in Iceland and abroad.

Sir Arthur Elijah Trueman was a British geologist.

Charles R. Bacon is an American expert in geology at the United States Geological Survey in the Volcano Hazards Team who has done a tremendous amount of work on Crater Lake National Park's geology.

Bruce F. Houghton is a New Zealand volcanologist. He was born on 29 April 1950 in Auckland, New Zealand. He was a student under Professor George P. L. Walker at Auckland University.

Syed Mahmood Naqvi was an Indian Earth scientist specialising in geochemistry at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad. In a four-decade career, from the 1960s through 2000s, he was the recipient of numerous awards, scientific as well as humanitarian, and served as Fellow of the Association of Applied Geochemists, Indian Geophysical Union, Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences and Indian National Science Academy (INSA) as well as vice-president of the Geological Society of India, the Geological Mining and Metallurgical Society of India and the Indian Society of Applied Geochemists (ISAG).

Sean Solomon Science Administrator

Sean Carl Solomon is the director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, where he is also the William B. Ransford Professor of Earth and Planetary Science. Before moving to Columbia in 2012, he was the director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C. His research area is in geophysics, including the fields of planetary geology, seismology, marine geophysics, and geodynamics. Solomon is the principal investigator on the NASA MESSENGER mission to Mercury. He is also a team member on the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission and the Plume-Lithosphere Undersea Melt Experiment (PLUME).

Sir Alexander Norman Halliday is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He joined the Earth Institute in April 2018, after spending more than a decade at the University of Oxford, during which time he was dean of science and engineering. He is also a Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

Ian McDougall was an Australian geologist and geochemist.

Sierd Cloetingh Dutch geophysicist

Sierd A.P.L. Cloetingh is Professor of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University, since 2014 President of the Academia Europaea and since 2017 president of the COST Association.

Hans-Ulrich Schmincke German volcanologist

Hans-Ulrich Schmincke is a notable German volcanologist.

Katharine Cashman Professor of Volcanology at the University of Bristol

Katharine Venable Cashman FRS is an American volcanologist, Professor of Volcanology at the University of Bristol and former Philip H. Knight Professor of Natural Science at the University of Oregon.

Dominique Weis is a Canadian scientist, currently a Canada Research Chair at University of British Columbia.

Dr. Marie Edmonds is a volcanologist and geologist whose research focuses on the physics and chemistry of volcanic eruptions, with a concentration on understanding volatile cycling in the solid Earth. Dr. Edmonds has been a Fellow of Queen's College in the U.K. and a Lecturer, then Reader at the University of Cambridge since 2007.

Craig E. Manning is a professor of geology and geochemistry in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as department chair between 2009 and 2012. Manning's research interests include water chemistry, thermodynamics, gas chemistry, geochemistry, igneous petrology, and metamorphic petrology.

Donald Bruce Dingwell is the director of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Ordinarius for Mineralogy and Petrology of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He is also currently President of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth´s Interior (IAVCEI), founded in 1919 and Vice-President of the Academia Europaea. From September 2011 to December 2013 he was the 3rd and last Secretary General of the European Research Council (ERC) where he embarked on a global participation campaign for the ERC. He is also a past-President of the European Geosciences Union. His research area is in geosciences. His approach is experimental. His research output has impacted geophysical, geochemical and petrological science and his most recent emphasis has been in the field of volcanic eruptions and their role in the Earth System. His work has been transformational in the way experimental and materials sciences are applied to volcanic phenomena. He is one of the world´s most productive geoscientists with ca. 450 publications and ca. 21,000 google scholar citations. Prof. Dingwell is also the initiator of the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Volcanism entitled Volcanic Eruptions: a material science which has attracted over 20,000 participants since its inception in 2013.

James Zachos

James Zachos is an American paleoclimatologist, oceanographer, and marine scientist. He is currently a professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz where he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. He has conducted research on a wide variety of topics related to biological, chemical, and climatic evolution of late Cretaceous and Cenozoic oceans, and he is recognized for transforming our understanding of long-term climate change and climate transitions in the past 65 million years. His investigations of past climatic conditions are intended to improve our ability to understand the consequences of anthropogenic carbon emissions on future climate change.

Suzanne Mahlburg Kay is the William & Katherine Snee Professor of Geological Sciences at Cornell University. She studies the origin and evolution of the continental crust. She is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union and the Mineralogical Society of America.


  1. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  2. Retrieved on 2009-05-14
  3. Retrieved 2009-05-15
  4. Retrieved on 2009-05-14
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2011-03-31. Retrieved on 2009-05-14
  7. Retrieved 2009-05-15
  8. "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 8.
  9. "No. 62150". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2017. p. N2.
  10. Royal Medal 2018