Humberside Geologist Online

The Mark Piasecki remembered.

 

Mark Piasecki was born in Poland in 1931, and came to Britain in 1945. He was a lecturer at the Department of Geology, University of Hull from 1957 until its closure in 1988. He then taught at Keele University until his retirement in 1996. His research was into the structural and metamorphic geology of Scotland, Norway and Canada. The end of the "Cold War" enabled him to revisit his homeland and collaborate with the geologists there. He gave a talk about this to the Society in 1995 and his joy of being able to contribute to geological teaching and research in Poland was plain for all to see. Members of the Society remember his evening classes with great affection. He died suddenly from a stroke on 13th June 1999.

Professor Patrick Boylan writes: I attended Mark's very first lecture in his first term at Hull - in one of the 2nd World War army huts, long since replaced by the University Library. I vividly remember not the content of the lecture - but how it ended. Someone sneaked out of the emergency exit when Mark passed the 90 minutes over-run point, and called in Lewis Penny as Head of Department to rescue us...!

Dr Paul Taylor writes: That is indeed sad news about Mark Piasecki. He gave an extra-mural course at the University of Hull in ca. 1970, which I attended while studying A-level Geology at Riley High School. His teaching was inspirational and certainly helped me in my A-level, as well as in enabling me to make the decision to read geology at university knowing that it was the right subject for me. I can well remember travelling with him in his VW Beetle on a memorable fieldtrip to Galloway and the electrical fire under the dashboard of his car which he took in his stride!

Mike Horne writes: When I studied geology at Hull University, Mark Piasecki taught us metamorphic petrology and structural geology, with great enthusiasm. His lectures were always a bit unpredictable - apart from the inevitable fact that they would not end on time! Sometimes this was frustrating if you had to get to another lecture and we used to add interest by running a sweepstake - predicting how many minutes there would be over the standard 50. It was no use trying to get hold of last year's notes - because the course changed every year - incorporating the latest research. Some of the things Mark said were famous - particularly the phrase "garnets as big as your fist".

Unfortunately I never did any fieldwork with him, but the anecdotes of the trips are numerous. On one occasion he got the tide wrong, and the party got trapped on a beach - Mark gave an impromptu 3 hour lecture whilst waiting for the tide to go out. On another occasion he stopped the minibus and asked the students to look for a pipe he had lost during the previous year's fieldwork. Those meerschaum pipes he smoked were distinctive and one year, all the students bought cheep corncob pipes and painted them blue and posed with Mark for a photograph.

I later discovered that the extra long lectures and new material each year, which at times frustrated undergraduates, gave excellent value-for-money for his night class students. Many people attended his geology night class every year - because it was different every year! He had very little interest in fossils and local geology and when asked about them he would recommend people to join the Hull Geological Society!

Bob Head writes:

My memory of Mark Piasecki is closely tied to my first serious introduction to geology some years ago. This took the form of a weekend trip to Anglesey and a better introduction would have been difficult to imagine.

I felt very much the new boy alongside such a wealth of geological knowledge but I need not have worried as Mark's enthusiasm for his subject was contagious. We tramped the beach in glorious April sunshine examining every rock that came in sight, especially one. "Ah, pillow lava!" said Mark, and proceeded to explain its origins and how it came to be there. I always think of that trip when I see pillow lavas.

We set off home on the Sunday evening tired but happy and I thought that was it. Not so! We just happened to be passing Snowdon when Mark remembered there was a rock intrusion we must see. Wasn't far. After a stiff climb (to the Devil's Kitchen I think) we saw and admired the outcrop in question and got home very late that night.

He will be greatly missed.

Refernces:

Kelling G 2000. In Memoriam Marek Andrezej Jerzy Piasecki 1931-1999. The Geological Society Annual Review 1999, 33-34.

To be published in Humberside Geologist no. 13

 

(c) Hull Geological Society 1999 + 2001