School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Mr Kreesan Palan (right) receives his award from GSSA Chairman, Dr Craig Smith.

GSSA Award for Best MSc Thesis for Geology Masters Graduate

Mr Kreesan Palan has received the Geological Society of South Africa’s (GSSA) John Handley Award for his master’s research involving the analysis of submarine canyon system morphologies off the west coast of South Africa.

The John Handley Award was instituted by the GSSA in 2002 to recognise the best MSc thesis in Geology to be produced at a South African university in the year prior to the award.

Palan graduated with his Master’s in Geology cum laude in April 2018, and was supervised by Professor Andrew Green.

This is not the first accolade for the young Geologist who in 2015 received the GSSA’s Haughton Award for his Honours research; joining a long line of UKZN recipients. In 2016, he also received the DMT Kai Batla Prize for the best Honours student in Geological Sciences at UKZN at the annual College Awards Ceremony.

Palan’s masters research involved a detailed bathymetric and seismic analysis of a series of unusual submarine canyon system morphologies off the west coast of South Africa which are not accounted for in the literature. ‘Their peculiar morphologies were proposed to have evolved from a combination of conventional seafloor erosional processes and gas venting. The significance of this study is to suggest a new mechanism by which canyons evolve as the variables change depending on the various study sites around the world,’ he said.

Processes of marine geology that occur in the deep marine realms intrigued Palan, who loves spending time in the outdoors. He chose this area of specialisation in the hope that his work can be applied to other canyon evolutionary studies in the future.

His future plans include pursuing a PhD in Geology and progressing to an academic career in this discipline.

He acknowledged the role of supervisors Green and Dr Errol Wiles in guiding his studies.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by: Geological Society of South Africa