Michael Howe

Dr Michael Howe

Head of the National Geological Repository
BGS Keyworth


I am particularly interested in promoting access to collections and information through digitisation and web delivery – an area in which the BGS is a world leader. We have delivered photographs via the web for many years – e.g. the National Building Stone Collection (4300 images) . Use of the JP2 (JPEG 2000) format allows web access to high resolution images, and has been used for several collections including UK continental shelf hydrocarbon well core samples (See for example ). It has also been used for the Historical maps of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland and Magnetograms . We have recently used it for high resolution fossil images, including stereo anaglyphs , and high resolution images of petrological thin sections (30 µ thick rock slices) – or search the database . The ultimate form of specimen digitisation is the 3d digital model. The JISC funded GB/3D fossil types on line project has captured several thousand such models. For digitisation to make a difference, it needs a critical mass. The UK hydrocarbon core photographs total 125,000 and the rock thin sections represent 100,000 rocks.

Michael Howe’s biography

  •  2013 – ongoing: Head, National Geological Repository
  •  2008 – 2013: Team Leader, Collections Management
  •  2000: BGS Chief Curator
  •  1995 – 2012: Department of Geology, University of Leicester. Honorary Visiting Fellow
  •  1979 – 1981: De Montfort University, Leicester. Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies (DMS)
  •  1979 – 2000: Various managerial positions within manufacturing organisations
  •  1976 – 1982: University of Cambridge, Ph.D.
  •  1976 – 1978: University of Oslo. NERC/NATO Studentship
  •  1973 – 1976: University of Cambridge, BA Natural Sciences

Research interests

  • Collections curation
  • Collections digitisation (HR imaging, photogrammetry, 3d models)
  • Ediacaran biota
  • Ordovician and Silurian graptolites
  • Palaeontological & Collections databases

Current projects and collaboration

  •  2011 – ongoing: Head, GDL – GeoDigLab – The BGS 2 & 3D specimen digitisation facility
  •  2011 – 2013: PI/Project Manager JISC funded (£691k) GB/3D Fossil Types Online

Published outputs

NERC Open Research Archive — Michael Howe

Key papers

Howe, M P A, Evans, M, Carney, J, and Wilby, P R. 2012. New perspectives on the globally important Ediacaran fossil discoveries in Charnwood Forest, UK: Harley’s 1848 prequel to Ford (1958). Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society. 59, 137-144

Howe, M P A. 1983. Measurement of thecal spacing in graptolites. Geological Magazine, 120 635-638

Howe, M P A. 1999. The Silurian fauna (graptolite and nautiloid) of the Niarbyl Formation, Isle of Man Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 160, 177-187,

Howe, M P A. 2011. GrapEl : a simple spreadsheet application for managing and disseminating graptolite biozonal range chart data. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, 58 (4). 247-252.

Worsley, D, Baarli, B G, Howe, M P A, Hjaltason, F, and Alm, D. 2011. New data on the Bruflat Formation and the Llandovery/Wenlock transition in the Oslo region, Norway. Norsk Geologisk Tidsskrift, 91, 101-120.

Zalasiewicz, J A, Page, A, Rickards, R B, Williams, M, Wilby, P R, Howe, M P A, and Snelling, A M. 2013. Polymorphic organization in a planktonic graptoloid (Hemichordata: Pterobranchia) colony of Late Ordovician age. Geological Magazine. 150, 143-152

Wilby, P R,Carney, J N, and Howe, M P A. 2011. A rich Ediacaran assemblage from eastern Avalonia : evidence of early widespread diversity in the deep ocean. Geology , 39 (7). 655-658.


  •  2016 – ongoing: BritGeoData – Impact stories from the National Geological Repository – http://britgeodata.blogspot.co.uk/
  •  2012 – ongoing: JISC: GB/3D type fossils online – http://gb3dtypefossils.blogspot.co.uk/


  • Collections conservation
  • Collections curation
  • Collections database design
  • Optical and laser imaging, including anaglyphs
  • Scientific management
  • Taxonomy


  •  2015: International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences (for the Jisc GB/3D project)


  • MCMI – Member, Chartered Management Institute

Professional association

  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union
  • Member of the Chartered Institute of Management
  • Member of the Geological Curators Group
  • Member of the Natural Sciences Collections Association
  • Member of the Palaeontographical Society
  • Member of the Palaeontological Association

Boards and committees

  •  2011 – 2013: Chair, Geological Curators Group
  •  2010 – ongoing: Trustee, Collections Officer, Geological Curators’ Group
  •  2004 – 2013: Treasurer, Trustee & Council Member, Palaeontographical Society

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