Recognition of Karl’s contribution to Geoscience

A statement in recognition of Karl Shaw’s contribution to Geoscience

On behalf of a group of colleagues, I would like to pay tribute to Karl Shaw as a friend, colleague and great bloke.

I played a role in recruiting Karl to the technical staff of the then Department of Biogeography and Geomorphology, ANU, in 1972. We needed a qualified driller to enrich a team of scientists eager to explore the many unknown aspects of Australia’s recent geologic past. He later joined me at Duntroon in the Department of Geography Faculty of Military Studies, UNSW, and even assisted me when I moved to Sydney University in 1985.

During the period 1972 to 1985, Karl contributed to several aspects of the research programs of a range of scientists some of whom have joined me in paying tribute to his services as a field technician. In areas of coastal research he helped me and others with drilling in NSW, Victoria, Queensland (especially on the Great Barrier Reef), Northern Territory, and South Australia. His bush knowledge complemented his great skills as a driller. His physical strength made possible the deployment of instruments in beach/surf experiments undertaken by the Coastal Studies Unit of Sydney University. He supported a range of PhD students in their fieldwork and without that support their studies would have been very different.

On the personal front, I became very dependent on Karl not just for his skills as a driller, but also for his loyalty, kindness and companionship often in some very difficult places. Our traverse through dense mangroves on Bewick Island in the northern Great Barrier Reef is something never to be forgotten; were we the first ever to attempt this task? We learnt to scuba dive together and had great fun exploring underwater caves and other beautiful places; he was a joy to take to these places. His patience with me and others was well known. And even in the laboratory he applied himself to the most mundane tasks with diligence.

My colleagues and I are deeply affected by Karl’s death; as one said we thought he was immortal. He made possible a number of research papers that would never have been produced without his support. I dedicated a major monograph to him published by ANU Press in 1992; that is how much I thought of him.

On behalf of my colleagues, I wish to extend our condolences to Robyn and the family. They should all know that Karl will be forever recognised for his contribution to the development of Quaternary geoscience and coastal dynamics in Australia.

Professor Bruce Thom AM on behalf of

Professor Don Wright
Professor Colin Woodroffe
Professor Andy Short OAM
Professor Patrick Hesp
Professor John Chappell
Professor Roger McLean
Associate Professor Peter Cowell
Associate Professor Ian Eliot