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KMCT Memorial Lectures

These Memorial Lectures are given by scientists renowned in their fields and are conducted approximately once every quarter.

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Inaugural Lecture | 23 March 2021

Importance of Geological knowledge – from grade school to graduate school - by Prof Raja V Ramani


At the present time, there is increasing realization that life on Earth is threatened by numerous safety, security and sustainability issues and that concerted action is essential to develop strategies that are effective in the long term.  Geology is defined as the scientific study of the origin of the Earth along with its rocks, minerals, landforms, and life forms, and of the processes that have affected them over the course of the Earth's history. It is often said that all human resource needs must be addressed by the basic industries of mining and agriculture and their contributions to the secondary and tertiary industries of manufacturing and commerce. Clearly, it is important to understand how Earth works as a system, particularly how the natural and human processes interact with each other within the system, to manage the system for the benefit of mankind. As our ability to see and collect data from far away in space and from deep in the bowels of Earth has increased, we have also come to appreciate the need for better understanding of the complexity of the interactions of the land, water and atmospheric components of Earth. Knowledge in geology has been considered essential in several fields of science and engineering though its relevance to every human being and to every day life is not widespread in the general public or even in some decision-makers. The purposes of this presentation are to overview the development of geology from the early years to the present and to productive avenues for enhancing geological knowledge from grade school to graduate school.


Prof. Venkata Ramani is a graduate of Indian School of Mines [ISM],Dhanbad in Mining Engineering [1962], he is a certified First Class Mine Manager [1965] and Professional Engineer [1971] and holds M.S. [1968] and Ph.D. [1970] degrees in Mining Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, United States .  He is a life member of the Mining, Geological and Metallurgical Institute of India and has directed U.S. sponsored research and seminars in India on computer applications, longwall mining, ground water issues and environmental planning. His contributions to mineral engineering in teaching, research and service have been widely acknowledged for their excellence and significance with several awards from academia and technical and professional societies in the United States and abroad.  Among the notable awards are Distinguished Alumni Award [ISM, 1978], SME Distinguished Member [1989], APCOM Distinguished Achievement Award [1989], Honorary D.Sc. [ISM, 1997], U.S. National Academy of Engineering Member [2005], AIME Honorary Member [2010], and Distinguished Fulbright-Nehru Chair [2014-15]. Prof.Raja V. Ramani, was President of SME in 1995, SME Foundation President, during 2001-2004 and a Legion of Honor member of SME. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Mining and Geo-Environmental Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University and Emeritus George H., Jr. and Anne B. Deike Chair in Mining Engineering. Very recently he has been selected for Distinguished Alumni Award of Pennsylvania State University for the year 2022.

Second Lecture | 20 July 2021 

How is Antarctica changing and why should we care - by Prof Martin Siegert


For more than 2000 years we have been fascinated by the discovery and exploration of Antarctica. The idea of Terra Australis Incognita (the Unknown Southern Land) began with the ancient Greeks, who argued a southern landmass was required to balance the northern world. This quest for knowledge led to the second voyage of Captain Cook in the late eighteenth Century, heroic expeditions by Robert Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Douglas Mawson, and the post-WW2 scientific collaboration of the International Geophysical Year in 1957-8. While much is now known about Antarctica, it still remains unquestionably the most unexplored region on Earth. In this lecture, I will talk about how our appreciation of Antarctica has changed as a consequence of the technological advances required for its scientific exploration. I will show how the perception of Antarctica as a static, lifeless continent has transformed to that of a dynamic region that has the power to alter our global environment. Finally, I will question what changes in the Antarctic could mean for us, and why it should concern everyone.


Prof. Martin Siegert FRSE has been the Co-Director of the Grantham Institute since May 2014. Previously, he was Director of the Bristol Glaciology Center at Bristol University, where he is now a visiting Professor, and Head of the School of GeoSciences at Edinburgh University, where he now holds an Honorary Professorship. He led the Lake Ellsworth Consortium - a UK-NERC funded programme that designed an experiment to explore a large subglacial lake beneath the ice of West Antarctica. He has undertaken three Antarctic field seasons, using geophysics to measure the subglacial landscape and to understand what it tells us about past changes in Antarctica and elsewhere. In 2013 he was awarded the Martha T. Muse Prize for excellence in Antarctic science and policy, and in 2007 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Third Lecture | 27 Oct 2021 

How India Parted Company from Gondwana : Constraints of Space and Time - by Prof Colin Reeves


India formed an integral part of the Gondwana ‘supercontinent’ throughout Paleozoic times.  Disruption of Gondwana started early in the Jurassic but it was not until late in the Cretaceous, 100 myr later, that India began its well-known rapid journey northwards, eventually to collide with Asia and form the Himalaya.  Data from the southern oceans – primarily ocean-floor topography and marine magnetic anomalies – have been used to investigate (a) the precise configuration of the present-day continents within reassembled Gondwana and (b) the processes of disruption that determined the paleogeography of the southern continents in the 100 myr interval from 184.2 Ma (start Toarcian) to 83.64 Ma (C34, start Campanian). The most recent 40 myr of this interval (i.e. 121.4 to 83.64 Ma) are devoid of marine magnetic anomalies and so demand some conservative plate-tectonic assumptions in addition to careful interpretation of the ocean-floor topography created.  Plate-tectonic modelling software (Atlas, Cambridge) has been used to model both continental positions and the likely geometry and behaviour of the mid-ocean ridges across the entire Gondwana-wide system of plates from the onset of disruption to 83.64 Ma, by which time India had begun its rapid northward journey. From this analysis it emerges that initial disruption into East and West Gondwana accelerated early in the Cretaceous (from 142.3 Ma, Berriasian).  By 121.4 Ma (M0, start Aptian) most of the well-known continental outlines had been established, many of them in the shorter interval 130-125 Ma (Hauterivian-Barremian).  These events are attributed to the more-or-less simultaneous outbreak at this time of the Kerguelen and Tristan mantle plumes.  The former created the (Greater) India-Australia-Antarctica triple junction, the latter started the main phase of South Atlantic opening.  At about the same time, re-invigoration of the Bouvet plume, located perpetually midway between Africa and Antarctica (and responsible for the original 184 Ma Gondwana disruption) ensured continuity of new mid-ocean ridge systems from West Africa to western Australia, a distance of more than 11 000 km, by Albian times.  From early in the Cretaceous the entire India plate, confined at its southern continental tip (along with Sri Lanka) between Africa (including Madagascar) and Antarctica, rotated counter-clockwise by way of two major dextral strike-slip transforms, one off western Australia and the other off Arabia-Somalia.  This continued until an ‘escape route’ to the north became possible at about 90 Ma (Turonian) with the outbreak of the Marion plume. The work has been conducted under the umbrella of IGCP-628 ( which will shortly publish the new geological map of Gondwana.  Animations and explanatory text concerning the work described here may be found at  The timescale of GTS2020 ( has been used throughout. 


Prof. Colin Reeves has been outstanding exploration geophysicist and studied in Cambridge, Birmingham and Leeds universities in U.K.  He has been specializing in application of geophysical techniques, especially aeromagnetic for reconnaissance geological mapping, and tectonics, and resource exploration in many countries in Africa, Arabia, India, Middle East and Australia. While in International Institute for Aerial Surveys and Earth Sciences (ITC), Delft, Netherlands, he guided almost 250 students from Africa, India and Latin America and helped to build capacities in these countries. He has been instrumental in defining the process of Gondwana dispersal, and actively participated in Gondwana Map project of IGCP.  He has made significant contributions in the development of the “Atlas” plate reconstruction software. He has delivered many lectures throughout the world and published widely on exploration geophysics

Fourth Lecture | 23 Mar 2022 

Landslide Scenarios and Studies in India – A Review
Dr. Saibal Ghosh, Deputy Director General (Geology), GSI, ER, Kolkata


The extra-peninsular terrain of India and its neighboring nations are known hot spots for landslide hazards. Nearly 4.34 lakh km2 areas in the country in parts of 18 States/ UTs are prone to landslide hazards.

Already more than 70,000 historic landslides have so far been inventoried in India by the nodal agency for landslide hazards – the Geological Survey of India (GSI). About 1000s of landslides of varied dimensions, and varied failure mechanisms do occur in such hilly/ mountainous terrains every year.

These landslides are mostly triggered by monsoon rainfall, a few by earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or more, or as a domino effect because of multi-hazards (flood, avalanche, glacial or landslide lake burst, earthquake etc.).  

In addition to the above, landslides are also triggered by anthropogenic actions like toe cutting/ excavation during hill road widening and construction, construction of buildings and other civil infrastructures in hills, etc. Off late, it is also observed that due to the frequent climatic extremes, and unpredictable hydro-meteorological situations, frequency of landslide occurrences, even fatal are increasing nowadays, which is a real concern to the sustainability of the mountainous areas. 

Given the above challenges, it is apparent that landslides in the Indian extra-peninsular regions warrant detailed studies. The nodal agency (GSI) and other institutes like IITs, CSIR Institutes, NRSC and other central Institutes are engaged in varied types of landslide investigations since centuries with an ultimate aim to mitigate and minimise the landslide risks.

With the above background in mind, in this lecture, we will steer our discussion through the following major threads to offer a synoptic picture on landslide studies in India

i) Landslide hazard and risk scenarios – International and National perspectives, 

ii) Approach of landslide studies and objectives in India, 

iii) Role and contributions of nodal agency, 

iv) Details of legacy data that are available for further R&D and use, 

v) Trends in modern R&D activities on landslides by other stakeholder organisations, 

vi) Gap in knowledge and challenges, 

vii) Scope and utility of a national geodatabase for managing such hazards, 

viii) Ongoing endeavours on landslide early warning, and 

ix) State-of-the-art terrain-specific engineering solutions offered for typical problem sites, 

x) Possible way forward.  


Dr. Saibal Ghosh did his M.Sc. and M.Tech. on Applied Geology in 1991, and 1993 respectively, from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. Subsequently, he completed his Ph.D. on Landslide Hazard and Risk Modeling in 2011 from the Faculty ITC, University of Twente, The Netherlands. During nearly 3-decade long professional career in Geological Survey of India, Dr. Ghosh was associated with several geotechnical and landslide investigations in the Himalayas, and Northeast as a consulting engineering geologist and landslide expert. Dr. Ghosh was instrumental for the nation-wide launch of National Landslide Susceptibility Mapping (NLSM) program in 2014, and also mentored more than 100s of geoscientists for this national task. Dr. Ghosh has published so far more than 30 research articles in various national and international peer-reviewed journals and currently has a Google Scholar Citation of 579. He is also a regular reviewer of the leading international peer-reviewed journals. He was the Secretary of the Indian Society of Engineering Geology (ISEG) for 2018 and 2019 which is the India National Group of the International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment (IAEG), and was the Convener, Science Program Subcommittee for the 36th International Geological Congress. Currently, he is working as the Deputy Director General (Geology) and Regional Mission Head-IV (Fundamental & Multi-disciplinary Geosciences) of the Eastern Regional HQ. of GSI at Salt Lake, Kolkata. 

Fifth Lecture | 14 Jul 2022 

Importance of Deep-Sea Technology and Ocean Science for India’s Economy - Dr. S. Satheesh Chandra Shenoi, FASc., FNASc.


The ocean is the largest ecosystem of our planet, regulating change and variability in the climate system and supporting the global economy, nutrition, health and wellbeing, water supply and energy. Holds an estimated 80% of Earth’s mineral resources, produces half of the oxygen we breath and meets about 15% of the protein requirement of 70% of world’s population.  The coastal zone is home to about 40% of world’s population and provides habitat for 80% of the living organisms in the world. The top 10 feet of the ocean holds as much heat the entire atmosphere. 

Indian coastline running over 7500 km is home to nine coastal  states and 1382 islands. The country has 12 major ports and 187 non-major ports, handling about 1400 million tons of cargo every year, as 95% of India’s trade by volume transits by sea. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone of over 2.2 million square km is rich in living and non-living resources and holds significant recoverable resources of crude oil natural gas, Placer Minerals (Ilmenite, Rutile, Magnetite, Sillimanite, Garnet, Zircon, Monazite) and Limemud. The coast also sustains over 4 millionfishermen and other  coastal communities. India also has exclusive rights of exploration in 75000 square km area for polymetallic nodule deposits in the international water of Central Indian Ocean seabed and 10000 square km area for polymetallic sulphides in the Southwest Indian Ocean. With these vast maritime interests, the Blue Economy in India has a vital relationship with the nation’s economic growth. Currently, the size of the Blue Economy in India is conservatively estimated to be about 4% of Gross Domestic Product. But the current thinking is that that needs to be tripled or quadrupled by sustained development of technology and scientific knowledge. 

This talk examines some of the technological developments in the country for deep sea exploration, mining, offshore energy, freshwater generation, etc. and the development of scientific knowledge that helps in predicting weather, climate and ocean genic hazards (storm surges, tsunamis, etc.) that affect the economy and lives. Talk concludes with underlining the necessity for sustainable development to create an healthier better managed ocean for the wellbeing of all. 


Dr. Shenoi did his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from Cochin University of Science & Technology. He researched extensively on the dynamics of the waters around India and the role of Indian Ocean on the monsoon at CSIR-NIO, Goa during 1983 to 2009. His other research interests included observational oceanography, ocean circulation, sea level variability and satellite oceanography.

He served as Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad during 2009-2020 and also as Director of National Institute of Oceanography (NIOT), Chennai during Aug 2015 – Feb 2018. He led the establishment of International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre, at INCOIS. He is an elected Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences (2007), Fellow of National Academy of Sciences, India (2009), Fellow of Indian Geophysical Union (2011), Fellow of Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences (2014) and Fellow of Telengana State Academy of Sciences (2015). Indian Geophysical Union awarded him with Dr. H.N. Sidique Memorial Lecture Award (2011). AMET University, Chennai conferred the Honorary Degree (Honoris causa) of Doctor of Science (2016) and Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India awarded him the National Award for Ocean Science & Technology (2018). 

He served as the Vice-Chair of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO in 2019-2021, Co-chair of International Indian Ocean Expedition-2 Steering Group (IIOE-2 - SG) during 2015- 2022, Chair of Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (IOGOOS) during 2017-2021, Member of the Executive Council of International Association for Physical Sciences of Ocean (IAPSO)/IUGG in 2011-2015 and in 2015-2019. Currently he is the Chair of IUGG’s Union Commission for Data and Information (UCDI)/IUGG since 2014

Sixth Lecture | 22 Nov 2022 

Ecosystem Restoration - Sri Syed Khalil


Deciphering complexities of ecosystem degradation anywhere is a daunting task, selecting a suitable restoration strategy thereon is more so since a suggested course of action has to meet the exalted standards of scientific sustainability, financial viability and even social accountability. In addition, its real and/or potential benefits need to be convincing enough to the affected populace. 

World over, several nations including India are grappling with ecological problems/potential disasters of divergent hues and have been adopting solutions with varying degrees of success commensurate with their resources and of course limitations.  Rapid developmental activity is occurring everywhere with huge risk of damaging ecological balance and creating vulnerable infrastructure.  This has necessitated adoption of already executed common template on which restoration strategies in other regions/domains have been planned and implemented.  

Understandably managing complex ecosystem environments of coastal Louisiana in which the natural and socio-economic systems are highly integrated is inherently difficult. In addition, deltaic environs are uniquely challenged due to the interdependence and delicate balance of water, land and economic systems and future uncertainties regarding the magnitude and rate of climate change impacts. In this context a peep into Louisiana State’s Holistic Sediment Management Plan for a Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration of a Degrading Delta Plain can be instructive.  

Syed Khalil proposes to take us through different stages of conceptualization, planning and execution of over two decades of this fascinating project to create, conserve, and preserve land, to mitigate the perennial and catastrophic impacts of land loss to millions of people in coastal Louisiana. Khalil would also emphasis the dictum that despite an acceptable common template the ecosystem restoration strategies are complex, unique and one of a kind where adaptive management plays a key role in every aspect of execution of such large-scale efforts.      


Sri Syed Khalil hails from Gaya District, Bihar and obtained his M.Sc (Geology) degree from  the Patna University. He joined the Geological Survey of India and worked extensively as a land geologist in Central and Eastern India before migrating to the Marine wing as a Geologist (Sr.) and he was promoted as Director. He was a UN Fellow at the University of Hawaii (Honolulu), USA working mainly on deep-sea swath bathymetric surveys around Hawaiian Islands for ferro-manganese crust exploration (SeaMARC II). 

He then migrated to the United States and obtained an M.S. degree in Coastal Geology from the prestigious Florida Atlantic Research University. His area of interests are seafloor mapping via integrated coastal/marine geoscientific surveys, coastal zone management, sediment evaluation, regional sediment management for coastal restoration, and geoscientific data management. 

Khalil’s primary focus is on the geo-scientific issues pertaining to restoration, mitigation and management of the Louisiana coastal environment to address severe and chronic wetland loss. Concurrently, he is also responsible for development/implementation of an expansive   Adaptive Management Program as a co-Program Director. This includes implementation of SWAMP (System Wide Assessment & Monitoring Program) - an overarching monitoring and assessment program for the entire coast of Louisiana documenting changes in various critical areas, including: physical terrain; water quality; waves and currents; and. biotic integrity. 

Khalil has conducted numerous integrated oceanographic and hydrographic surveys involving seafloor mapping of the world’s major water bodies including the Pacific, Mid-Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, the Arabian, Andaman, Mediterranean, Japan, and South China Seas, and the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. 


He has published numerous professional papers in international scientific journals besides being the editor/Associate editor.  

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