Thursday, 29 August 2013

Events in September

September 5th - Bath Geological Society - NOTE CHANGE TO PROGRAMME
Using energy from Bath's Hot Springs at the Abbey
Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director, Bath Abbey
It is proposed to take hot water from the Roman Great Drain, which would otherwise flow into the river, and use it, through a heat exchanger, to heat not just the Abbey but also other surrounding buildings, as part of a district heating scheme.
7.30 p.m. BRLSI, Queen Square, Bath
Visitors welcome - £4 - free refreshments

September 8th - clearance of de la Beche SSSI site, Vallis Vale, near Frome
10.30 in large layby on the north side of the road at Hapsford Bridge BA11 3NN
GR: ST 761495. We hope to finish by about lunchtime but a packed lunch is recommended.
Sturdy footwear, waterproof and warm clothing, hardhat, handlens, and notebook.  Water if it is hot.  “Gardening equipment” (e.g. gloves, secateurs, loppers, rake, fork, etc.) It is about 500m from the cars to the site.
There will be an opportunity to explore Tedbury Camp too.

September 10th - Western Region, Geological Society
Peat Stability - Risk and Hazard Assessment
Ian Uglow, Chief Engineer - Atkins
Peat instability is a natural occurrence which is influenced by many factors including, peat thickness, hill slope gradient and subsurface hydrology. The importance of assessing the stability of peat deposits, particularly in relation to wind farm development, came to the fore as a result of a major peat failure during the construction of the Derrybrien Wind Farm in Ireland in 2003.
Although no fatalities were associated with the failure, there was a significant environmental impact and the instability highlighted the sensitive and critical nature of highland peat bogs, particularly in relation to the development of windfarms.
Ian has many years experience in geotechnical engineering and has been involved with wind farm development and peat stability for the last 8 years, mainly on sites in highland Scotland. 
Note change of Venue           
Atkins, The Hub (Ground Floor), 500 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4RZ. 6.30pm, refreshments from 6pm. Everyone welcome.

September 14th - Western Region, Geological Society
Field trip - click here for further information.

Jurassic giant fish could grow more than 16m long

Read more

Monday, 26 August 2013

Want to study dinosaurs?

 If you always wanted to study dinosaurs, you will soon be able to do so online - but, alas, no field work.
This latest stage in the rapid expansion in online university education is the University of Alberta's "Dino 101" course. Students at the university can take the same course and count it as a credit towards a palaeontology degree. The online course materials will use interactive techniques developed for the gaming industry. The course in dinosaur palaeobiology will be available from September through the California-based Coursera online network, which has gathered 4.2 million students and 86 universities and other partners since it launched last year.
Read more.

Danger from Space?

The discovery that a colossal solar flare hit Earth in the Dark Ages reminds us that catastrophe could strike at any time.
Read more.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Fracking again - -

 Scientific view from the Geological Society
 Good scientific (unbiased) discussion by Professor Davies of Durham
 Report by the Royal Society
 The Government's position:
 Report by the House of Commons Energy Committee
The reader sending these links has been told by a number of Professors that the ready availability of pseudo data on the web has decreased the ability of students to research and analyse data and develop their own arguments. This is the first time I have encountered it for myself.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

More on fracking - a balanced view

Sent by another reader:- The fracking links post of August 14th open up a can of worms. The links are to Ingraffea - his position at Cornell is 'Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering' He is anti fracking and has published with Howarth Cornell 'Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology'
Their work has been challenged (condemned?) by at least 12 other sources - amongst them

May 2011, U.S. Dept. of Energy report: Emissions from natural gas are low compared to other fuels.
  •  'Howarth [and Ingraffea] found a large fraction of produced gas from unconventional wells never made it to end users, assumed that all of that gas was vented as methane, and thus concluded that the global warming impacts were huge. As the [Dept. of Energy] work explains, though, 62% of that gas isn't lost at all, it's used to power equipment.'
June 2011, Cornell Univ. Professor Lawrence M. Cathles "Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences"
  •  'Ingraffea's and Howarth's analysis is seriously flawed in that they significantly overestimate the fugitive emissions associated with unconventional gas extraction .....' 
  • 'The assumptions used by Howarth et al. are inappropriate and ....... their data, which the authors themselves characterize as 'limited', do not support their conclusions'.
April 2011 John Hanger, Head of the Pennsylvania Dept of Env. Protection: -
  •  'Professor Howarth's & Ingraffea's conclusion that gas emits more heat trapping gas than carbon, flies in the face of numerous life cycle studies done around the world'.
  • 'Professor Howarth & Ingraffea just adopted an extreme and false assumption of no flaring that conveniently moved the result of his life cycle analysis in the direction that he wanted'.
August 2011, Carnegie Mellon Univ. report on life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Marcellus shale production.
  • 'The GHG emission estimates shown here for Marcellus gas are similar to current domestic gas.'
  • 'For comparison purposes, Marcellus shale gas adds only 3% more emissions to the average conventional gas, which is likely within the uncertainty bounds of the study. Marcellus shale gas has lower GHG emissions relative to coal when used to generate electricity.'
  • 'Lead researcher Paula Jaramillo (with reference to Ingraffea and Howarth's paper): 'We don't think they're using credible data and some of the assumptions they're making are biased. And the comparison they make at the end, my biggest problem, is wrong.' 
Cornell organised an internal debate between Cathles and Howarth/Ingraffea over these issues.
I do not think we should publicise one side or the other in this debate. We certainly should not provide a link to a biased source. 
The only defensible link would be to
this is the regulatory authority which is currently conducting a 5 year R&D program into the impact of hydraulic fracturing. So far the news flow has not been kind to Professor Ingraffea's position.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Lifelong Learning 4 day course

Field Geology in South Shropshire (Part 1)
Tutor: Dr Nick Chidlaw
Two weekends in October: 12th, 13th and 19th, 20th
10.00 am – 5.00 pm each day

In this tract of the Welsh Borderland is found some of its most attractive scenery and varied geology. Part 1 looks at rocks of Precambrian to Ordovician age: these include e.g. ancient volcanics, intrusives and reddish strata on the Stretton Hills, white quartzites near the Wrekin, and fossiliferous sandstones and shales along the Onny Valley. No prior knowledge of the area or geology is assumed.
Please note that you will need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements, with meeting time and place to be confirmed.
The course is organized through Cardiff University. It carries assessment, which is very difficult to fail!; attendees usually find assessment on these courses useful for consolidating what they have learned.
Tuition fee is £140.00 (Concessionary fee available £112.00).
Enrolments can be made by ‘phoning 029 2087 0000 or see website.
For more information on course content and specific field locations, contact tutor.

September 14th - Huntley and Longhope, Glos

Saturday 14th September
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Leader: John Moseley, Gloucestershire Geology Trust
The WRG annual field trips are designed to be of interest to Society members working in a variety of professions including ground engineering, structural geology, palaeontology and education.  However whether you are a professional, student or just generally interested in a 5 miles leisurely and fascinating walk (with the occasional steep gradient), please feel free to come along and take part in the annual WRG field trip.
 This year’s trip will look at the challenging and complex structural geology in and around the local area of Huntley, with the obligatory pub lunch!
Confirmation of you attendance by Friday 6th September would be much appreciated.
Further details on the website.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Trym Gorges field trip cancelled - 17th August

Please note that the field trip to Trym Gorges on 17th August, organised by Bristol NATS - geology section has unfortunately had to be cancelled. This was part of the West Country Geology field trips programme

Fracking - questions and answers

A reader has sent more information about fracking
and more - -