Reg C. Sprigg - Biographical Notes

Reg Sprigg

Reg Sprigg

Reg Sprigg was born at Stansbury, York Peninsula, South Australia on March 1 1919.

He graduated B.Sc in Geology and Zoology at Adelaide University in 1940 followed by B.Sc(Hons) and M.Sc. in Geology in 1941. In 1971 he was awarded D.Sc(honouris Causa) by A.N/U (Canberra) and, again by Flinders University (Adelaide) in April 1990 for his early pioneering work in Oceanography.

He enlisted in the Royal Engineers in 1940, was transferred to Munitions from 1941-42, then to the CSIRO Soils Division from 1942-43.

In 1944 Reg was seconded to the South Australian Geological Survey to reactivate the Radium Hill Uranium Mining field and to regionally map the Mt Painter Uranium field. Later he established the State Geological Mapping Division and undertook a wide range of mineral, hydrological, petroleum and engineering surveys.

In 1946 he discovered the world's oldest (620 mya) 'Edicarian' fossil animals and, in 1947, the first submarine canyons in the Southern Hemisphere, south of Kangaroo Island.

He married Griselda Paterson in 1951. They have two children - Margaret (born 1952) and Douglas (born 1954).

In 1954 he set up his own consulting and contracting geological and geophysical companies, Geosurvey of Australia P/L, and its subsidiaries Geoseismic P/L, Geophoto Laboratories P/L, SA Oceanographic Services P/L and Specimen Minerals Ltd which supply scientific equipment and specimens (biological, mineral and geological) as well as publishing the Australian Amateur Mineralogist and the Australian (Petroleum) Scouting Service.

In 1954 he took a leading part in setting up SANTOS Ltd and subsequently spear-headed oil exploration widely across Australia. He was instrumental in discovering and developing the oil deposits in the Cooper Basin and the Moomba Gas Fields. Geosurveys operated also in search for Uranium, Nickel and other minerals and in geological and geophysical exploration under contract. He also assisted in directly setting up Alliance Oil Development NL, Beach Petroleum NL, and Tasman Petroleum Ltd (NZ).

Geosurveys was the first Australian contractor in regional and submarine gravity studies and also land and marine seismic studies. He was Technical Director of Beach Petroleum NL, a Director of Tasman Petroleum NL, Nickel Mines of Australia Ltd and South West Mining (a subsidiary of International Nickel Company).

Geosurveys built its own Oceanographic Research Vessel, M.V. SAORI, and the country's first deep-sea Diving Chamber - the black and white object located behind Ningana - which saved many lives during the building of Port Stanvac. Along with diving team mates, Reg Sprigg shares the offshore SCUBA diving depth record for southern Australia at 90 metres.

While still in his teens, he was a founding member of the Geological Society of Australia. He later became Foundation Chairman of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association (1959-65). Councillor until 1982, and then became Emeritus Chairman and Life Member. He was also a Fellow of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Geological Society of America, Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Geological Society of Australia and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences. He was awarded the Tate Verco and Weeks Gold Medal for achievement.

In 1983 he was vested an officer of the Order of Australia. In June 1988 he was awarded the Freedom of the city of London in recognition of his work in petroleum exploration and environmental conservation. In March 1989 he was appointed a Vice-Patron of the Alumni Association of Adelaide University and in April 1990 at Flinders University.

He published over 300 scientific and technical papers and four books; Arkaroola-Mt Painter in the Flinders Ranges; Arkaroola-Mt Painter - The last Billion Years; Geology is Fun and A Geologist Strikes Out.

Reg Sprigg died in December 1994 and his ashes are scattered on the property.