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Nomination of E.F. Lloyd and R.Keam for New Zealand Science and Technology Medals

The Geological Society of New Zealand is delighted that Ted Lloyd and Rom Keam have been jointly awarded New Zealand Science & Technology silver medals for their contributions to geothermal knowledge and conservation of geothermal features. We reproduce the nominating statement below as a summary of the work they have undertaken over two scientific careers.

The Geological Society of New Zealand is pleased to nominate E.F. (Ted) Lloyd and R.F (Ron) Keam jointly for their outstanding contribution to geothermal and volcanological science over a period of 50 years. During this time they have mapped, described and analysed geothermal fields and volcanic areas in the Rotorua-Taupo area, and actively applied this knowledge to the conservation of geothermal features. 

New Zealand is recognised worldwide as an area of outstanding geothermal attractions, including surface phenomena such as geysers and hot springs. On a worldwide scale, it is only surpassed by Yellowstone National Park in the USA. The geothermal features are important as unique scenic attractions, for their cultural significance, as sources of energy, and as scientific phenomena. Over the years there have been clashes of interest in these values. Without the advocacy of Lloyd and Keam, sometimes at considerable personal difficulty, it is likely that there would be no geysers remaining in this country, and that the number of hot springs would be far fewer.

Since European colonisation many geothermal features have been lost, and most of the remainder are under threat. As an illustration, of the five major geyser fields in existence 120 years ago (Rotomahana, Whakarewarewa, Orakeikorako, Wairakei, and Taupo Spa), only Whakarewarewa survives with any significant number of active geysers. Rotomahana was destroyed by the 1886 Tarawera eruption, but Orakeikorako, Wairakei, and Taupo Spa were eliminated as geyser fields by human activity. Of the 130 significant geysers known to be active in 1950, fewer than 15 (mostly at Whakarewarewa) are still erupting today. 

Studies of geothermal and volcanic areas

Ted Lloyd and Ron Keam independently became interested in geothermal activity in their schooldays. After they met in the Auckland Public Library - both seeking historic records of the eruption of Waimangu geyser from old newspapers - they joined forces and undertook many field trips and shared the results of their historical research.

Lloyd joined the New Zealand Geological Survey (DSIR) in Rotorua, while Keam pursued a career in physics at the University of Auckland. Over the next 25 years they both undertook landmark studies of geothermal and volcanological features which have proved essential in documenting the decline in surface thermal activity.

Among other projects, Lloyd was responsible for detailed mapping of the Waiotapu, Orakeikorako, and Whakarewarewa geothermal fields, including measurements of spring flow, geyser activity, water geochemistry, and documentation of historic records (Lloyd 1956, 1972, 1975). This work has proved invaluable in providing baseline data on the nature of geothermal fields prior to exploitation. He also measured hot spring and geyser activity for several years at Taupo Spa, and observed the obvious decline in activity due to exploitation of the Wairakei geothermal field Lloyd, in Thompson 1957). Lloyd was also one of the first people in the world to recognise, map and date hydrothermal eruption breccias. Keam concentrated on the Waimangu area and on documenting the 1886 Tarawera eruption. His resulting monograph, "Tarawera - the Volcanic Eruption of 10 June 1886" has been acclaimed as outstanding scholarship, combining historical and geological research to provide the definitive record of the events of this eruption and its aftermath. He also prepared a series of guidebooks (Keam 1955, 1958a b & c, 1959) which provide an accounts of the volcanic and geothermal features of the region for interested non-scientists.

The International Volcanological Symposium, held in New Zealand in 1965, provided the opportunity to summarise existing knowledge of volcanic areas and geothermal fields. The geothermal sections of the conference guidebook were largely contributed by Lloyd and Keam, by then the acknowledged experts on surface geothermal activity. Lloyd also prepared a substantive guide book about geothermal systems in the Taupo Volcanic Zone for participants attending the International Volcanological Congress in 1986. This was widely used by visitors to the area for many years subsequently

Conservation of geothermal features

By the late 1970s, Lloyd and Keam had become seriously concerned about the decline in hot springs and geysers, largely caused by geothermal exploitation at Wairakei, Ohaaki and Rotorua. As a result of the energy crisis, plans were underway to expand geothermal development - then touted as the energy source without significant environmental effects. There was little concern in the scientific and engineering community about conservation of surface geothermal features because most of those involved in geothermal research were excited about the prospect of obtaining new data from deep drilling. Attempts to raise concerns through official channels proved fruitless.

In 1978 an application for a deep bore to provide steam for a timber processing plant near Rainbow Mountain provided the catalyst for action. It seemed highly likely that this would damage the unique and fragile Waimangu-Waiotapu geothermal system. Keam decided to mount a legal challenge to the water right application (Keam 1979) - a matter of considerable personal risk if costs were awarded against him. The Environmental Defence Society provided financial support. He subpoened Lloyd as an expert witness, and together they were able to provide detailed evidence on the nature of the geothermal system, historic changes, and the likelihood of decline if fluid withdrawal was allowed. Staff from DSIR and Ministry of Works provided expert evidence for the applicant. In declining the application, the judge stated that the evidence provided by Lloyd and Keam appeared to have higher scientific credibility than that provided by the applicant.


Shortly afterwards, Lloyd successfully opposed two water-right application for deep bores immediately adjacent to the Whakarewarewa geyser field, and was able to demonstrate that the decline in geyser activity was due to extraction by household bores, and that further extraction would have disastrous effects of the remaining geysers.

Together Lloyd and Keam appeared in seven legal and quasi-legal hearings, one taken up to the Court of Appeal. These hearings proved a watershed. It was clearly demonstrated to all that geothermal development affected surface hot springs and geysers, some of which were tourist attractions, and that there had been a marked decline in geyser activity since 1950. A report was prepared for the Nature Conservation Council documenting the environmental effects of geothermal extraction, making recommendations about which unique geothermal fields should be preserved (Houghton & others 1980). The Ministry of Energy started a monitoring programme at Rotorua, and subsequently bores were closed down immediately adjacent to the Whakarewarewa geyser field. And belatedly the scientific community recognised that geothermal development had adverse environmental effects. The end result is greatly increased community awareness of the uniqueness of hot springs and geysers, and the importance of conserving those that remain.

Concluding comments

The work described above is only one component of the careers of two productive scientists. In addition, Lloyd has undertaken major geothermal investigations overseas and Keam has combined his university teaching with the supervision of students on different aspects of geothermal phenomena. Both continue to have an active interest in geothermal conservation.

Working both separately and together, Ted Lloyd and Ron Keam have made a remarkable contribution to our knowledge of geothermal systems in the Taupo Volcanic Zone - especially hot springs and geysers - and to their conservation. The preservation of the small group of geysers that remain in New Zealand is a testament to their role in actively advocating conservation of geothermal features. We believe that their contributions in this field should be recognised, and are very happy to nominate them for New Zealand Science & Technology medals. 


The following bibliography lists only publications relevant to this nomination.

Studies of geothermal fields

Lloyd E.F. 1957: Section on "Spa Springs" (pp 87-91) in Thompson, G.E.K: "Some physical measurements in the Wairakei-Taupo area". DSIR Bulletin 121. 

Lloyd, E.F. 1959: The hot springs and hydrothermal eruptions of Waiotapu. New Zealand journal of geology & geophysics 2(1): 141-76.

Contributions to DSIR Information Series 50 (New Zealand Volcanology: Central Volcanic region) covering Whakarewarewa, Orakeikorako, Waimaungu by E.F. Lloyd & R.F. Keam

Lloyd, E.F. 1972: Geology and hot springs of Orakeikorakao. New Zealand Geological Survey bulletin 85: 164 pp. + map

Lloyd, E.F.; Keam, R.F. 1974: Trinity Terrace hydrothermal eruption, Waimaungu, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Science 17: 511-28.

Lloyd E.F. 1975: Geology of Whakarewarewa hot springs. DSIR Information Series 111, 24 pp. + map.

Keam, R.F. 1980: Waimangu Geyser. In Stafford, D.M., Steele,R., Boyd, J. (Eds) "Rotorua 1880 - 1980", 224 pp.

Keam, R.F. 1980: A bathymetric survey of the Waimangu thermal lakes. New Zealand Oceanagraphic Institute records 4(7): 56-69.

Keam, R.F. 1981: Bathymetric maps of Frying Pan Lake (1:500) and Inferno Crater (1:250). New Zealand Oceanographic Institute miscellaneous maps 52 & 53. 

Keam, R. F. 1993: Biographical essay "Alfred Patchett Warbrick" in "The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography" Vol 2, p.564. [Warbrick was the curator of the Waimaungu thermal area for many years].

Annual contributions by EFK and RFK summarising monitoring and geothermal activity at Wakarewarewa, Waimaungu and Raoul Island in Volcanological Record from 1973 onwards

Studies of volcanic areas

Healy, J; Lloyd, E.F.; Rishworth, D. & others 1978: The eruption of Ruapehu, New Zealand on 22 June 1969. DSIR Bulletin 224, 80 pp. 

Lloyd, E.F.; Nathan, S 1981: Geology and tephrochronology of Raoul Island, Kermadec Group, New Zealand. New Zealand Geological Survey bulletin 95, 105 pp + map.

Keam, R.F. 1986: Tarawera - the Volcanic Eruption of 10 June 1886. 486 pp. R.F. Keam, Auckland.

Houghton, B.F.; Lloyd 1991: K-Ar ages from the western dome belt and associated rhyolitic lavas in the Maroa-Taupo area, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics 34(1): 99-101.

Simmons, S.F., Keywood, M., Scott, B.J., Keam, R.F. 1993: Irreversible change of the Rotomahana-Waimangu hydrothermal system (New Zealand) as a consequence of a volcanic eruption. Geology 21: 643

Lloyd, E.F.; Nathan, S.; Smith I.E.M.; Stewart, R.B. 1996: Volcanic history of Macauley Island, Kermadec Ridge, New Zealand. New Zealand journal of geology & geophysics 39: 295-308.

Geothermal conservation

Keam, R.F. 1979: Evidence presented before Planning Tribunal (No 1 Division) September 20 1979. Appeals 521/79. KEAM R F v National Water and Soil Conservation Authority (Respondent) and Minister of Works and Development (Applicant). 

Houghton, B.F.; Lloyd, E.F.; Keam, R.F. 1980: The preservation of hydrothermal system features of scientific and other interest. Geological Society of New Zealand report (29 pp) prepared for the Nature Conservation Council.

Keam R.F. 1982 (editor): Geothermal systems: energy, conservation and tourism. Proceedings of a conference held in October 1981. 139 pp. Nature Conservation Council.

Keam R.F. 1982: Rotorua Geothermal System: comments on geyser preservation and system stability. 9 p + map. Paper read before a Parliamentary meeting on the Rotorua Geothermal System (August 1982)

Keam, R.F. 1982: Towards a geothermal resources policy for New Zealand. 9 p. Physics Department, University of Auckland. 

Lloyd, E.F.; Keam, R.F. 1983: Submission on Whakarewarewa. Geological Society of New Zealand newsletter 62: 61

Houghton, B.F.; Lloyd, E.F.; Keam, R.F.; Johnston, D.M. 1989: Inventory of New Zealand geothermal fields and features (1st edition). Geological Society of New Zealand Miscellaneous Publication 44.

Keam, R.F. 1986: Comments on the Geothermal Policy Document. Geological Society of New Zealand newsletter 73: 12-15.

Communicating science

R.F. Keam 1955: Volcanic wonderland. The scenery and spectacle of the New Zealand thermal region. G.B. Scott, Auckland. 49 pp (several editions).

Keam, R.F. 1958: Tarawera eruption: the volcanic outburst of June 10 1886, Waimangu geyser, the round trip today (several editions), 48 pp.

Keam, R.F. 1958: Waikaremoana - the forest, rivers and lakes of Urewera National Park. 18 pp.

Keam, R.F. 1958: Wairakei: Geyser Valley, the geothermal works, and Waikato River scenery (two editions), 26 pp.

R.F. Keam 1959: Lake Taupo. 34 pp.