2021 Gilbert H. Cady Award

Presented to Xavier Querol

Xavier Querol

Xavier Querol
Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Barcelona


Citation by Allan Kolker, U.S. Geological Survey

The 2021 recipient of the Geological Society of America’s Energy Geology Division Gilbert H. Cady Award is Xavier Querol of the CSIC Spanish National Research Council, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Department of Geosciences, Barcelona, Spain. Xavier has made fundamental and lasting contributions to coal science, both specifically, and in a broad sense. Major research themes over the course of his career have included the distribution of sulfur and trace elements in coal, utilization of fly ash, mobilization of trace pollutants from fly ash, geochemistry of coal mine dust and coal fires, geochemistry and source apportionment of atmospheric pollutants, and potential human health impacts of these pollutants. He currently oversees a research staff of 25 scientists and has nearly 650 publications to his credit, including approximately 150 publications on coal geochemistry and related topics. In his role as Research Professor at the CSIC, Xavier has supervised 28 Ph.D. dissertations, primarily covering energy-related and air quality topics.

Early on in his career, Xavier received the Barton Thomas Memorial Award from the University of Kentucky for his work on coal fly ash. Subsequently, at the request of the Spanish Government, he was actively involved in characterization studies and remediation following the 1998 mine tailings accident near Aznalcóllar, Spain. More recently, Xavier has served on Spanish, European, United Nations, and World Health Organization panels on ambient air quality and standards for atmospheric particulate matter. He has received awards from the Spanish Government and the Spanish region of Catalonia for his work on air quality and protection of the environment and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona. In 2020, he received the Spanish National Award for Research on Natural Resources.

Xavier is one of the hardest working people I have ever known. Much beyond that, he has great scientific insight to address the most relevant energy-related problems and has genuine concern for the environmental and human health impacts of energy use. I feel fortunate to have worked with Xavier in the early stages of both our careers; I'm pleased to have known him for more than 20 years to observe how his career has progressed. To the extent that the 2015 name change of the GSA division from Coal Geology to Energy Geology reflects a broadening in its scope, the time is right to recognize Xavier Querol, who has made fundamental contributions to coal science in the broadest sense. I can think of no one more deserving to receive the Gilbert H. Cady award for 2021.


Response by Xavier Querol

I am extremely honored and excited to be the 2021 recipient of the GSA Energy Geology Division Cady Award. First, because it comes from an admired/reference organization, which is the GSA, a reference Society for geologist all across the world. Second, because it comes from the Energy Geology Division from GSA, also a reference for many geochemists, coal geologist and environmental geologists. Third, because great scientists and persons who I always followed and admired, such as Dr. Glukoter, Finkelman, Dr. Goodarzi, Dr. Hower and Dr. Ward (I cite only these among very well-known names, because these are the closest to my work inside the coal geochemistry and environment, and I specially followed their work) received the Award in prior years. And last but not least, because a colleague-friend from the USGS (Dr. Allan Kolker), also worldwide organization reference in my research field, had the idea to propose me for the Award, knowing that he has done work on our field meriting being nominated to this prestigious Award.

In our research field research is more a question of a team than of an individual. This is why I would like to have to thanks to all my current and past colleagues from the Environmental Geochemistry and Atmospheric Research (EGAR) Team from the Spanish Research Council (CSIC); but before, I would like to start thanking to the CSIC for giving our team the opportunity to develop our scientific ideas and support us. To my two PhD co-supervisors Dr. A. López-Soler and Dr. R. Salas who inspired, supported, guided and helped me in doing studies on coal from coal geology and geochemistry to environmental sciences. To my colleagues from EGAR for the good times we had and for their support and hard work. To all my colleagues to whom I supervised or co-supervised their PhD for their interest and hard work in their PhD allowing reaching excellent scientific results in our field.

I would like also to thank my colleagues Dr. S. Chennery, Dr. D. Simpson, Dr. J. Cook, Dr. Ch. Gowing, Mr. J. Robinson and Dr. D. Mails from the British Geological Survey (BGS) for all what they teach me on geochemistry and analytical sciences applied to environmental geology, and for the good times in Keyworth, UK, during my postdoctoral stay at BGS-NERC. What I learned from them changed my scientific view and helped me all along my career. To. Dr. J. Pardo and Dr. Rosa Menéndez from INCAR-CSIC, Dr. R. Finkelman and Dr. A. Kolker from USGS, and Dr. Goodarzi from FG & Partners Ltd, for supporting us in our initial studies of coal geochemistry, but specially for their seminal studies on our filed. To my colleagues and collaborators from China, Dr. X. Zhuang, Dr. Y. Wang, Dr. J. Li and Dr. B. Li from the China University of Geosciences-Wuhan, and Dr. R. Zheng from the Academy of Science for a 30 years long of continuous collaboration on coal geochemistry, coal beneficiation and environmental sciences and for the excellent results obtained in many coal regions of this large Country.

A number of specific studies from a number of scientists mentioned above have “opened my eyes” in coal geochemistry, but in addition I would like to thank the studies by Dr Z. Altschuler and Dr. D. Casagrande on sulfides and sulfur in coal sulfides, and those by Dr. H. Gluskoter, Dr. R. Finkelman, Dr. V. Bouska, Dr D.J. Swaine on trace elements, which guided my early stages of the research.

Finally, but foremost first, I thank my wife, Silvia, and daughters, Àngela and Belén, for their love and her continuous support and encouragement, but also for continuously repeating, “now is time for the family”. I thank my parents, Enrique and Emérita, for being outstanding persons and for the education received.

To many others that I did not mention here because the limitation of text, and to others that I may have forgotten to mention, but from whom I learned or who I collaborated, and helped me to make the scientific studies where I have been involved, I thank them sincerely apologize for the oversight.