Not a single school of geological learning was located in the part of British India that formed the present state of Pakistan in 1947. The newly created country, therefore, inherited no academic establishment to produce geologists and related scientists. Only a few Muslim geologists from the (British) Geological Survey of India opted for and formed the nucleus of the Pakistan Geological Survey. However, no person with teaching experience was available. It is notable that at the time of independence, adequate geological information was available only for 28% of the region of Pakistan. The situation required a large number of geologists urgently to explore the natural resources to kickstart the economic development of the new country. The initiative was taken by the Punjab University and a Department of Geology was established in 1951 within the Geography Department, under the aegis of (late) Dr. Kazi Saeed-ud-Din, Professor and Head of the Department. The new Department started to impart teaching of geology in September 1951, at the Intermediate Science (F.Sc.) level as an elective subject. (This course was dropped by 1953).
Given national urgency to develop mineral resources of the country, the Punjab University also opened an independent Department of Mineralogy, under a UNESCO-Pak Government protocol in 1952 in the Institute of Chemistry. Professor 0. A. Broch from Norway, arrived in April 1952, as the Head of the Department. This Department offered a course of specialization in Mineral Chemistry for the M.Sc. Final year students. This course was discontinued by 1953.
In January 1954, the two departments were combined into the Department of Geology and Mineralogy, under Professor O.A. Broch, and housed in the (Old) U.O.T.C. building which is now occupied by the University Clinic and the Habib Bank at the Old Campus. The first B.Sc. class in Geology was held under the integrated Department.
In 1954, the Government of Pakistan requested UNESCO to provide an Adviser in Petroleum Geology and hence Professor N.R. Martin from the U.K. had to step in to fill in the shoes of Prof. Broch as the Head of the Department in 1955. The first M.Sc. class in Geology was produced in 1957 in the specialized field of Petroleum Geology. A new UNESCO Adviser arrived during late 1956 to further develop the Mineralogy Project and a UNESCO expert arrived for a stay of three months to train local personnel in geological workshop techniques. By the end of 1958, a UNESCO Adviser arrived to establish the teaching of Geophysics and another Adviser in the field of Paleontology and Stratigraphy. By 1958, it was planned that the discipline should be developed more comprehensively to impart a balanced geological background in various major disciplines of the subject, so the word “Mineralogy” was dropped from the title of the department, which was thus renamed as the Department of Geology, incorporating the following sections:
- Paleontology and Historical Geology
- Mineralogy and Petrology
- Petroleum Geology
The UNESCO Technical Assistance Mission spent a total of 19.33 expert years and concluded in May 1962. Before the conclusion of the UNESCO Mission, steps were taken to invite another expatriate, Dr. R. G. Davies, from the U.K., who was appointed Professor of Geology in September 1961, and took over as Head of the Department in April 1962, His appointment was subsidized by Leverhulme Trust, from the U.K. Professor Davies left in June 1967 and Mr. F.A. Shams was appointed as the first Pakistani Head of the Department, who continued until December 1972, when the system of rotation of Headship was introduced under the new University Act, to be designated as Chairman of the Department. During the period 1965-68, two more Sections were established:
- Geochemistry and Research
- Engineering Geology and Geohydrology
In the summer of 1965, the Department was shifted from the Old Campus to the New Campus into a building that was planned to suit the academic and administrative plan of the Department. This resulted in considerable expansion of space with each Section having its integrated staff rooms and labs. By summer, 1978, B.Sc. Chemistry Laboratory at the New Campus was taken over from the Institute of Chemistry, housed in a big hall with two attached rooms at the ground floor of the Geography—Statistics Block. In a way, this meant further expansion of the Department. Similarly, the B.Sc Physics Laboratory at the New Campus was taken over from the Department of Physics to complete a major phase of the development. A unique program at the New Campus had been to establish the first-ever Palaeomagnetism Laboratory of the country. With generous financial help from the University, a hut for the purpose was constructed near the V. C. house, It. was specially designed and built with nonmagnetic construction material. The hut was completed in 1962. The difficulty of buying/importing instruments for the Hut during the post-1965 war period was solved through a donation by the Australian National University, Canberra. A senior staff member was sent to Canberra for training in this highly specialized field. The project, however, could not take off well due to leaving abroad of the staff member concerned in 1973. The hut could not withstand severe storms during the summer of 1974. In August 1979, the Department was elevated to the status of the Institute of Geology, and Professor F. A. Shams was appointed as the first Director to be responsible for this transformation.