To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the setting up of the geomaterials research and graduate training centre at Queen Mary and Westfield College, a conference was held in November 1989 entitled Geological Materials in Construction: Developments in Geomaterials Research and Practice. Most of the presentations were from current or past staff, research students and those who had completed the MSc course and were now working in the geomaterials industry. The papers concentrated on the practical research undertaken and drew attention to the increasing importance of geomaterials in the construction industry.
In most universities academic courses on economic geology deal mainly with mineral resources (high-cost/ low-volume) and fuels (coal and oil) rather than the low-cost/high-volume commodities such as aggregates. Other institutions, however, have appreciated the practical reality of an aggregate industry which is not only expanding but is in fact of great economic importance. The high-cost/low-volume minerals are frequently found in only limited areas of the world; the position of the deposits and their genesis is clearly of interest as an academic study. In contrast, however, most countries are relatively self-sufficient in geomaterials, even though the quality may vary from country to country and area to area. As there is relatively little international trade, many economic geology textbooks do not deal adequately with the low-cost/high-volume materials and consequently their value is frequently under-rated.
Within individual countries, however, transportation is often required. In the southeast of England, for instance, river terraces are the main source of aggregate and in many places these