Wednesday, 27 February 2008

What's on in the West Country - March 2008

3rd March - University of Bristol
Water Cycling in the Deep Earth - click HERE for details.

5th March - Gloucester Geology Trust

A lunchtime talk on the Abberley and Malvern Hills European Geopark, Wheatstone Hall, Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery, Brunswick Road, Gloucester, 1.00-2.00.
David Owen will give a talk on the varied geology and landscape of the Geopark in advance of the exhibition of Geopark Art by Sandra Masterson at the City Art Gallery.
Contact: Gloucester City Museum 01452 396131

8th March - click HERE for details
Geodiversity in the North Wessex Downs

8th March - 19th April - Gloucester Geology Trust
Geopark Art Exhibition, Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery, Brunswick Road, Gloucester.
n exhibition of art by Sandra Masterson inspired by the landscape of the Abberley & Malvern Hills European Geopark. Works include both paintings and sculpture and many pigments and materials used have been sourced from the landscape itself. For example, soils used as paint pigments and rocks from the Geopark used in sculpture. The exhibition will be accompanied by rocks, fossils and minerals from within the geopark.
Open to: All
Admission cost: Free

March 15th - Bath Geological Society
Field trip to Soudley Valley, Forest of Dean - click HERE for some information.
We shall meet at 10.30a.m. at Dean Heritage Centre. GR SO664105.

March 19th - Cotteswold Naturalists' Field Club
Annual Richardson Lecture, University of Gloucestershire, Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham 6.00p.m.
Dr Derek Siveter - "Soft Bodied sensations from the Silurian
Free Admission

March 19th - Bristol Naturalists' Society
Out on Four Limbs - click HERE for details

March 20th - Bath Geological Society and the Geologists' Association
Living with Earthquakes; know your faults - click HERE for details.

If any organisations wish to add anything, please let me know via the comments on the blog.

Earthquake - Wednesday 27th February

Have you seen the press release posted by the British Geological Survey? The earthquake was magnitude 5.2 and occurred at only 5km depth. The epicentre was Market Rasen, Lincolnshire.
Preliminary data, seismogram and the map showing the location of the epicentre are already on the BGS website and the site will be updated as new data become available.

There is also a simple online questionnaire which anyone who felt the earthquake should fill in. The information helps BGS to compile contour maps of the felt effects (or intensity) of the event based on the European Macroseismic Scale, and is used to create hazard maps. So please fill in the questionnaire if you felt the earthquake (if you didn't, fill it in anyway, it takes even less time and that's useful information too) and encourage others to do so.

We felt it here, near Bath. The bed went up and down four or five times and a pheasant who roosts in a nearby tree screeched and must have fallen of his perch judging by the noise which followed.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Santorini - 10th - 24th June 2008

Santorini: living with a volcano
A Study Tour - Tuesday 10th to Tuesday 24th June 2008
Leader: Peter G Hardy BSc,PhD
University of Bristol; Department of Earth Sciences

There are a few places left on this fantastic tour - BOOK NOW!

Santorini is now a well-established tourist resort, but retains much original atmosphere and boasts the most dramatic and beautiful scenery and exceptionally friendly people. Combine this with fascinating insights into the heart of a volcano and the opportunity to wander through the streets twice as old as those of Pompeii, and this tour is sure to charm you.
This course will comprise the equivalent of around eleven full days of organised activities in which we shall walk considerable distances with stunning views, but at a gentle pace. There will be ample time to examine details, appreciate the views, study local life and to recuperate in shady tavernas! The emphasis of the course will be on the volcanic rocks and the resulting dramatic landforms. These will be studied in the context of their effect upon the life of the inhabitants, both past and present. We shall visit major and minor archaeological sites and examine the older local architecture, since this is so strongly influenced by the geological history of this largely volcanic island.
The price of the tour is £980 per person and includes -
- return flights Gatwick/Santorini
- transfer to and from hotel
- half board accommodation in twin room with private facilities
- airport taxes
For details please contact
Barbara Perks on 0117 954 5438 or
or visit

Friday, 22 February 2008

Water Cycling in the Deep Earth - March 3rd

On Monday 3rd March, the University of Bristol has been lucky enough to be included in a lecture tour by the Mineralogical Society of America's distinguished lecturer, Dr Steve Jacobsen from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University. His talk is designed to be accessible to a general audience, and you are welcome to come along.
13.00 hrs in the lecture theatre G25,
Department of Earth Sciences,
Wills Memorial Building University of Bristol

"Water Cycling in the Deep Earth:

Are the Oceans Just the Tip of the Iceberg?"
Earth is unique among the terrestrial planets in having liquid water on its surface. Water controls the character of biology and geology of the planet. Deep reservoirs of water incorporated as hydroxyl (OH-) into the solid silicate minerals of the mantle may contain the majority of the planet’s hydrogen and acted as buffers to maintain ocean volume and continental freeboard over geologic time.
Just two-tenths of one weight percent H2O in subducted oceanic crustal material and subsequently released to the hydrosphere is sufficient to recycle the total ocean volume about once in 4.6 billion years. It is possible that fluxes are several times this amount. Nominally anhydrous minerals of the transition zone (410-660 km depth) may serve as the largest internal reservoir. New and recent data on the effects of water on the physical properties of minerals indicates that hydration has a larger effect on seismic velocities than does temperature within their respective uncertainties.
This talk will explore how experimental studies are being used to constrain the effects of water on the physical properties of Earth materials at high pressures and temperatures, which may ultimately lead to seismological detection of water in the deep Earth. Experimental data, in concert with thermoelastic modelling may be used to interpret enigmatic S-wave velocity anomalies in the mantle reported from seismic tomography, such as the one recently detected beneath eastern North America.

If you would like to attend - just come along!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Out on Four Limbs - talk on March 19th in Bristol

Dr. Marcello Ruta of the Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol is giving a talk entitled 'Out on Four Limbs: the rise of terrestrial vertebrates and the evolutionary radiation of amphibians and amniotes'. The talk is organised by the Bristol Naturalists' Society and will be held in the SH Reynolds lecture theatre, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 19th March.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Clean water supply - PlayPumps

Although this is not related to Geology in the West Country, I thought you would all be interested to see this clever, but simple idea. Children play on a merry-go-round and pump water for villages at the same time. Girls benefit in particular because they are usually the ones fetching water.
For more information about PlayPumps International, click here.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Geodiversity in the North Wessex Downs AONB

Discover links between landscape, geology, biodiversity and land use at this one day meeting.
Saturday 8th March
10.30 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.

Bouverie Hall,
Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5QE
Talks include:
Diversity in stone - a look at building materials and styles within the AONB
Geology and Landscape of the Marlborough Downs and Vale of Pewsey
North Wessex Downs - the last 100 million years
Conservation Target Areas - linking biodiversity habitats and geodiversity
Stream Geology and the freshwater crayfish
A look at woodland archaeology
An industrial heritage in the North Wessex Downs
Soils and their development within the North Wessex Downs

This meeting is supported by a grant from the North Wessex Downs
Sustainable Development Fund.

All are welcome. The day is free but registration is required - or 01993 814147
Please bring a packed lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Field Trip to Brown's Folly - February 17th

Do come and join us on a walk to look at the varied Jurassic limestones at this important SSSI site.

We shall be meeting at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday February 17th in the car park at the top of the steep hill from Monkton Farleigh to Bathford - GR ST 798663. Strong boots and waterproofs are essential. The walk takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. The cost is £3 for visitors.

Details of Bath Geological Society's lectures and field trips can be found on the website - click here.

A plea for Tedbury Camp near Frome, Somerset

Hugh Prudden has written the following:-
The Somerset Geology Group hopes to get a grant to improve Tedbury Camp quarry near Frome.
You may know that there is a joint initiative (Natural England, UKRIGS, Geology Trusts and various funding bodies) to make funds available for improving sites. Tedbury is surely deserving removal of invasive scrub on the Inferior Oolite and the Carboniferous Limestone face. The latter is now inaccessible and is a superb place for students to log the bed by bed succession which we did years ago with the Devonshire Association to great effect. The steep eroded footpath is hazardous. Also some discrete signposts are needed.
The eye-catching unconformity is of course an important feature but we really should draw attention to the alternative approach via the footpath alongside the Mells River: a cave, superb bedding plain, a curious fold/thrust/slump (?), Dolomitic Conglomerate and the gorge-like valley itself are integral and important features of the locality. It also provides an alternative easier access.
David Roche of David Roche-GeoConsulting, has offered to put in an application on a kind of no-win-no-fee basis. I have expressed delight with this offer as, to be honest, I have neither time nor energy to become too involved in the bureaucratic aspects.
I am sure you will all agree that Tedbury deserves funding and restoration. At the same time the famous De la Beche quarry face down the valley needs management.
Are people aware of the viewing platform at nearby Holwell? (ST 723454) There is parking for a minibus on the corner of the Whatley-Holwell road just north of the junction with the A361. Follow the path to NNW for a few hundred yards and the platform is on the right. There is a splendid panorama of the large quarry and the famous unconformity can be picked out as it undulates around the edge of the worked-out area. In the distance, on a clear day, one can see Cley Hill, near Warminster, where Tertiary Clay-with-flints lies on top of the Chalk. Where else can you get such a sense of geological time and events in one view? Make your own time chart of the events. The photograph shows steeply dipping Carboniferous Limestone truncated by the undulating unconformity above which can be seen the yellow horizontal Inferior Oolite. Cley Hill can be seen in the distance.
There are some fifty similar entries in our Somerset Good Rock Guide. Simply click HERE and you will be surprised at the wealth of interesting and accessible sites awaiting you this summer.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Severn Barrage

This message was received from a local geologist.
"We are trying to alert local geologists to the possible problems which a Severn Barrage might create for us.
Natural England is raising this issue but I think we need to present a united front at some stage, as the biologists seem to have done already.
A lot of the coastline in the Avon area is covered by geological SSSI and RIGS designations and my main worry is the likely reduction of erosion of cliff sections and flooding of low water exposures. A major concern is that coastal sections are the most useful sites in the area for educational fieldwork, and I would hope we can prevent anything which reduced their value. I have personally taken some 500 groups to Aust Cliff and about 100 each to Portishead and Sand Point/Middle Hope, and really appreciate their special place!"

(Note: you can click on the underlined words to link to the websites.)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Brilliant free powerpoints

Have you seen the Geologists' Association's latest venture? If you click on Education in the menu on the GA website and then click on 'Your Planet Earth', you will see that the GA has launched the first set of talks for free use by earth sciences professionals as a basis for engagement and outreach science shows in schools. Some societies may well want to view them too. They are excellent - click here to view the page.

There are five titles so far:-
  • Volcanoes
  • Dinosaurs
  • Natural Hazards
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Climate Change

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Special Nature Supplement for IYPE

To celebrate the International Year of Planet Earth, this special Nature supplement explores recent developments and future directions in the Earth sciences. With climate change to the fore, Earth scientists have much to offer society, and these articles explore both our understanding of the planet and how this knowledge can be used to benefit the people who live on it.

There is free access to this supplement for the next 6 months.
I was alerted to this publication by the Nuffield Curriculum Centre, part of the Nuffield Foundation.