• 1976

    Inception 1976

    The Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (GSTT) was founded in 1976, almost exactly 110 years after the first successful oil well was drilled by Captain Walter Darwent in Aripero, March 1866. In these interim years before the formation of the Society, many a foreign geologist had ventured into Trinidad for the express purpose of finding oil. However, oil companies and their geologists turned over rapidly and Trinidad became known as the “graveyard of geologists”. Companies’ fortunes were rather short lived. Some one hundred and twenty or so oil companies came and left in this period.


    Geologists as a group never settled down long enough to form a local society although a few individuals stayed on for long periods. Most notable among these was the Swiss geologist Hans Kugler who arrived in 1913 to undertake field geology for oil exploration and would eventually compile and publish the most definitive and comprehensive Geological map of Trinidad in 1959. Other notable geologists that worked closely with Kugler were, John Saunders (recognised for his contributions to the GSTT at the 6th GSTT Conference, 2017) and George Higgins, two gentlemen that contributed immensely to local Geology. John was honoured for his work at the 3rd GSTT Conference held at Hilton Hotel, Port-of-Spain in 1995.  The other gentleman would publish in 1996 a most detailed 500 page “History of Trinidad Oil” – which was nothing short of a labour of love. 


    During the colonial era and up until 1973 foreign geologists residing in Trinidad would join the Institute of Petroleum, headquartered in London.  Local geologists were allowed membership in the Trinidad Branch of the Institute but were not considered as members of the international body according to John Scott, Chief Geologist in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mines.


    Dr. Eric Williams led Trinidad to Independence in 1962 and this propelled the country towards greater national consciousness. The early seventies saw a new breed of geologists – the local nationalistic geologists from out of U.W.I., Mona, Jamaica – many of whom pursued studies on a Texaco geology scholarship. This period also saw the beginning of nationalization of the local oil industry. Against this background the “Founding Fathers” of the GSTT began to conceive the idea of forming a geological society. These included, among others, Krishna Persad, Ken Birchwood, John P. Scott, T. Rajpaulsingh, Mahendra Nath and William Lau.


    Primarily due to the efforts of one individual, the Society got off the ground in 1976 when Dr. Krishn Persad returned to Trinidad from a foreign assignment at Tesoro Corp., San Antonio.  He with the instigation of T. Rajpaulsingh mobilized all local geologists and drafted a constitution. At the inaugural meeting in early 1976 at Royal Hotel, San Fernando, it was proposed to call the Society the Trinidad Association of Petroleum Geologists (TAPG). After much discussion and objection the name was abandoned to adopt a broader concept that included all aspects of geology and its local applications. Thus the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (GSTT) was born.


    The inaugural Dinner and Dance was held at the Trinidad Hilton on October 22, 1976 with Dr. Ken Julien as the feature speaker. It is interesting to note that the executive in the year 2002 and 2003 comprised of two gentlemen from this first Executive – Krishna Persad and Derek Smith.  As Mahendra Nath puts it “It would seem that we have come full circle as Messrs. Persad and Smith have reappeared 25 years later on the GSTT’s Executive.”



    The Society recognized the importance of petroleum and natural gas to the economy of the country and felt a need to provide career guidance for young students and continuing education to its members, with the emphasis on the needs of the petroleum industry. Thus the major aims of the Society were:

    • To increase the general level of geological knowledge among its members by presenting technical papers, holding technical sessions, arranging short courses and lectures by distinguished geologists local and international, leading geological field trips, and publishing newsletters and technical publications at regular intervals.
    • To increase the awareness of the public about the importance of geologists and geology to the country by holding public lectures and seminars, by using the communications media to disseminate information, and by participating in public exhibitions and expositions.
    • To provide career guidance for students throughout the country


    The Society started with twenty members in 1976 and five categories of membership – Ordinary, Student, Associate, and Honorary. Over the years the Society membership has grown to now number over three hundred active paid members with members in upstream and geoscientists in the downstream and other non-energy organizations.


    The GSTT is a non-profit organization that is run by an annually elected Executive on a voluntary basis. Its aims and objectives are primarily geo-scientific education and local geological understanding but its domain of influence is the rich natural resources of our country.  Because it impacts heavily on the fortunes of our country’s petroleum sector and hence the country as a whole, many geologists have gone beyond their science to take up leadership roles in their community and in the country.  Some examples of GSTT members in such leadership positions are;The late Honorable Patrick Manning (Former Prime Minister), Keith Rowley (Prime Minister and Minister of Parliament), Franklin Khan (Minister of Energy), Eric Williams (Minister of Energy and Energy Services), John Scott, Bill Chaitan and the late Harry Kuarsingh.  The leadership of the Geological Society is excellent training ground for leadership roles in the larger community and the Petroleum industry. 

  • 1995

    Inception to end of the 20th Century

    The GSTT has also been active in the hosting of local and regional conferences. In 1979 they hosted the 4th Latin American Geological Conference at the Hilton, Port-of-Spain. The First Geological Conference of the Society was hosted in 1985 and was comprised of two days of technical sessions and a one-day symposium on the Tectonics of the Southeast Corner of the Caribbean Plate. The GSTT has hosted its own geological conference every five years since then. In 1995 they outdid themselves by simultaneously hosting both the 3rd GSTT Conference and the 14th Caribbean Conference. The resulting two-volume, 817-page transactions contain fifty papers and ninety-three abstracts.

  • 2000

    A New Century; Renewed Enthusiasm 2000 and Beyond

    The year 2000 saw the First joint conference hosted by the GSTT and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the first Transactions to be made on a CD.


    The annual Petroleum Conference was a regular feature of the GSTT co-host the South Chamber of Commerce. This conference featured papers on Petroleum Geology and business updates on the Petroleum and Petrochemical sectors of Trinidad.  It was well attended by an international cross-section of energy investors’ as it has become a forum for announcing new farm-out, joint venture and downstream opportunities in Trinidad.


    The GSTT began publishing its official black and white newsletter in 1981.  These are now collectors’ items for their technical content and geological field notes.  In 1994 the Newsletter went electronic and was distributed via email and could be printed in colour. The newsletter was renamed “The Hammer” in 2001 and is available online via the Society’s website. The Hammer now has an international reach with more than 2,000 downloads per issue with a diverse and impressive content history.


    Field trips are an integral and enjoyable part of the Society’s activities as it provides hands-on familiarity with the rocks of Trinidad and Tobago.  This is especially important in today’s high technology environment where the geoscientist only sees rocks as wiggles on a seismic section or curves on a log plot.  Field trips have taken GSTT members to every part of Trinidad and Tobago. The Society has hosted foreign field trips to nearby countries such as Eastern Venezuela, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica and Montserrat.  These trips serve to broaden the geologists’ perspective and sharpen their geological thinking and creativity. The geologists believe that the present is the key to the past – the principle of uniformitarianism.  Geophysicists also derive great benefit and view these field trips as “getting to know time slice zero.”


    The Society has held Career Guidance workshops with High Schools in collaboration with the Society of Petroleum Engineers in the past.  In March 2003 we partnered with the SPE to target Tobago, the East-West corridor, East, Central and South, in a successful programme of presentations.  GSTT partnered with a number of organizations including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Energy to put on a television game show called ‘Energy Alive’.  This show features schools’ participation on Energy topics in a question and answer format.  In a survey carried out by the Ministry of Education, most schools said that they found the show important as it educated the students on relevant issues in a fun mode.


    GSTT was instrumental in the establishment of a degree in Petroleum Geoscience in 2003 and Petroleum Engineering at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.


    The Society continues to offer two bursaries to outstanding University students recommended by the University.  Numerous notable geologists have benefitted from these in fulfilling their degrees, conducting research and attending international conferences. We are very proud to have kept this tradition alive for decades.



    GSTT had the vision for the establishment of an organization which would include influential members, who would become an independent voice to obtain sustainable development in Trinidad and Tobago.  This was done by the formation of the former National Energy Business Alliance (NEBA) of which GSTT was a member.  NEBA’s major purpose was the delivery of a holistic approach by the business community towards maximizing the local value-adding capacity of the energy services sector.


    In 2001, the GSTT established its first physical office at the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Technology(TTIT), Brechin Castle, Couva now incorporated into the University of Trinidad and Tobago.


    A comprehensive library of geoscientific reference books were donated by Arco/bpTT in 2001 and are housed in the GSTT portion of the main UTT Library.  The GSTT also established its first website in 1998 with the latest launch in 2018.  The website is an excellent source of information on Trinidad’s complex geology and by the Publications Committee of the GSTT, currently led by Stefon Harrypersad.  


    In 2006, the GSTT hosted the popular AAPG Hedberg Research Conference.


    In 2007, the GSTT hosted the 4th Conference of the GSTT


    In 2012, the GSTT hosted in the 5thConference of the GSTT


    In 2014, the GSTT hosted the AAPG Geoscience Technology Workshop


    In 2015, the GSTT hosted the 20th Caribbean Geological Conference


    In 2017, the GSTT hosted the 6th Conference of the GSTT


    In 2018, the GSTT launched its new modern e-commerce, smart website, also modernized The Hammer and E-News publications and continues to make an effort in acquiring land for the construction of a GSTT Building. This is intended to house the GSTT Secretariat, Conference facilities, Library, Sport facilities and other tenants.