Friday, 14 December 2007

January 12th - date for your new diary

Isobel Geddes, from the Wiltshire Geology Group and author of 'Hidden Depths, Wiltshire's Geology and Landscapes', is leading a guided walk around Avebury, looking at the building stones, on January 12th.

Meet at 10.30 a.m. at the information board at the start of the footpath into the village leading from the National Trust car park at Avebury, SU099697. The walk will take about 1.5 hours.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Outcrop - Newsletter of Avon RIGS Group

Have you seen the latest edition of Outcrop? Its the newsletter of the Avon RIGS group and is full of information. The autumn issue has excellent articles on the Gordano Valley, a palaeoenvironmental archive, and news of the fantastic new dinosaurs coming to Bristol. Three Scelidosaur skeletons are soon to be displayed at the City Museum.

Talking of museums - - Outcrop has a list of museums with geology displays in the former County of Avon. These have been added to the right-hand side of the blog. Please let me have a list, via 'comments' of all the others in our area and I will add them.

To receive your FREE copy of Outcrop, please contact the Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC) - email.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Geology and Landscape of Taunton Deane

This book 'The Geology and Landscape of Taunton Deane' would make an ideal Christmas present for anyone interested in south west Somerset. It is a geological exploration written by the expert of the area, Hugh Prudden. Hugh says the book is intended as an introduction to the geological features of the Taunton area and especially as a guide to places worth visiting. It is written for both local people and visitors. It has 9 chapters on 'Topics' such as 'Building Stones', 'Soils and Farming', 'Radon' and 24 chapters on 'Exploring the Taunton area'. These are extremely comprehensive and range from 'A view of the countryside in 1794', 'Taunton Rock Trail' to 'Hestercombe Gardens', 'Milverton', 'Wellington and the Blackdowns' and many more.

The book is published by Taunton Deane Borough Council and costs £8.95. It can be obtained from local bookshops or ordered from Geo Supplies Ltd. 49 Station Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield, S35 2XE or email.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Bath before the Romans

When people think of Bath they think of the Roman Baths and the Georgian houses. However, Bath had a varied and exciting history long before the Romans got here.

One of the members of the Bath Geological Society took a nine days tour back in time and a one day trip into the future. Click here to view the postcards sent back to the Society by our intrepid explorer G.O. Logist.

This site was produced by members of Bath Geological Society to show the conditions that would have been found in Bath in the last 340 million years. Over this time Bath has moved from a position near the equator to its present position at latitude 51 degrees 22 minutes north.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

R.H. Worth Prize for Hugh Prudden

We are delighted that Hugh Prudden, Somerset Geology Group, has been awarded the R.H. Worth Prize by The Geological Society of London. This prize rewards those who make distinguished contributions to geology as amateurs and whose work encourages amateur geological research.
The report written by The Geological Society states "If this were Japan, someone would have made Hugh Prudden a national living treasure. Hugh, who already holds the Halstead Award of the Geologists' Association, is a tireless campaigner for the recognition of geology in local studies and is widely respected for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the geology and geomorphology of his home county of Somerset. He is an enthusiastic campaigner, founder member and chief organiser, of countless organisations, including the Somerset Geology Group, and is closely involved with the GA, the Open University, the Devonshire Association and the Ussher Society.
Moreover, Hugh has carried out what we might call, borrowing terms from the archaeologists, 'emergency' or rescue' geology in temporary exposures of Mesozoic rocks in Somerset and adjacent areas - including delightful locations like road works and gas and water pipeline trenches."
Well done Hugh!

Saturday, 27 October 2007


Trilobites are rare in the rocks of the West Country but many people like them, so I have added a link to this website, 'A Guide to the Orders of Trilobites'. It was recommended to me by a trilobite enthusiast.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

There is now a G.A. Guide 'The Geology of Watchet and its Neighbourhood, Somerset'. It is written by Professor Eric Robinson, formerly of University College, London, who now lives in Watchet.

It is an extremely comprehensive guide by a true expert and is good value at £6.00. It can be ordered from the Geologists' Association website.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Festival of Geology - first weekend in November

Did you know that the Geologists' Association is holding its annual Festival of Geology in Liverpool on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th November? The event is at the World Museum and is from 10.00 - 4.30 on Saturday.
There will be something for everyone - geological displays by all the local societies, trade stands (good chance to buy early Christmas presents), books and, of course, Rockwatch with all its activities for children.
There are more details on the G.A website.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Geology Books in North Wiltshire

Did you know that there is a bookshop, 'Earth Science Books' run by Geoff Carss and based in North Wiltshire? Click here to view the website. The shop specialises in geology books, especially those concerning the British Isles. There is a good stock covering a broad range of subjects - British Geological Survey memoirs (over 300), classic 19th century text books like Lyell, Mantell, Geikie, palaeontology, especially micropalaeontology, student text books, Stephen Jay Gould first editions and much more.

Geoff says that if anyone contacts him as a result of reading this blog, he will give a 10% discount on purchases!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Fossils and funny bones for the under 8s

Did you know that Explore @ Bristol is running workshops for the under 8s?

"Fossil Finders: Discover the magic of prehistoric worlds through playful and imaginative games and activities in this hands-on workshop. Children will make their own fossils, move like a dinosaur and find out about the creatures that once roamed the Earth."

The cost is £1.75 per pupil for an hour long visit and 30 pupils and 15 adults can be accommodated at one time.

Dates - 15 - 19th October, 12 November - 7th December, 21st January - 8th February, 3 - 14th March, 12 - 23rd May.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Geology of Bath video

Please click here to view a short video about the geology of Bath. It would be fun to produce one with images of famous geological sites in the west country. Please send me your jpeg photos and I will put something together - or rather, the Animoto team will.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Soudley Valley Geology Trail

The popular Soudley Valley Rural Geology Trail, Forest of Dean has two new interpretation boards, courtesy of the GGT (Gloucestershire Geology Trust) and Rusbridge and Soudley Parish Council. There are two interpretation boards, one concerning the geology and geology trail, the other about the Hod Boys which will overlook the sculpture of a Hod Boy at the picnic site below Bluerock Quarry.

There is also a very good booklet (£1.95) about the trail, available from the nearby Forest of Dean Heritage Centre.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

International Year of Planet Earth

As you know, Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol is currently President of the Geologists' Association. The GA celebrates its 150th birthday in 2008 (GA150) and 2008 is also the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE). The GA with the GSL Education Committee as a partner, is organising an educational/outreach programme, the aim of which is to combine a poster campaign to all schools with linked web materials, and a programe of talks in schools by students, coordinated by University Earth sciences/geology departments. The plan is to make a sustainable and continuing programme.

Also for the International Year of Planet Earth and making a difference to the education of children across the world is Earthlearningidea. We are publishing 5 Earth-related activities up to December and then one a week for the whole of 2008. These activities require minimal resources and equipment.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Field Weekend - a few places left - -

15th - 16th SEPTEMBER
Would you like to join Bath Geological Society on a weekend visit to various sites in Dorset and Somerset to be led by Bob Chandler? Robert Chandler is the 2006 recipient of the Mary Anning Medal of the Palaeontological Association and Consultant to Natural England on the Dorset Inferior Oolite. His title for the weekend is 'Inferior Oolite of Dorset and Somerset, its Ammonite Biostratigraphy and its mode of deposition'.
A number of sites will be visited from Ham Hill, near Yeovil to Burton Bradstock near Bridport - lots of opportunities to collect fossils.
A 15-page information pack is available to accompany the trip.
The cost is £20 to cover organisational expenses. Participants should organise their own accommodation, if required. Participants may be able to share cars.
Please contact the Bath Geological Society
email if you are interested - but hurry! Places are limited.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Too many people?

Can this planet really sustain 9 billion people by 2050? This is the predicted total from the 6.6 billion, and growing, of today. Recently, I was sent this website, the World Clock. The figures shown here are very alarming, even more alarming than inevitable climate change.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Earth Heritage Magazine

Earth Heritage magazine is published twice a year to promote interest in geological and landscape conservation.

Earth Heritage is free and is produced by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales. The voluntary geoconservation sector is a major contributor.

If you wish to be on the mailing list for the Magazine, 'phone 01584 877442 or email.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Fossil Treasures on the Railway Path - August 27th

On Bank Holiday Monday, 27 August 2007, between 10am and 4pm, the annual 'Rock & Fossil' event will take place on the Bristol & Bath Railway Path at Saltford near Bristol. This is an opportunity for the public to talk to local experts about the region's fascinating prehistory and to bring along interesting rocks, fossils and minerals they may have found and would like identifying.

For children there will be an additional attraction - free fossil samples for them to take away.

Simon Carpenter, the event organiser, says "If you‘re on the Railway Path on that day, make sure you stop at our event. It promises to be a fun and entertaining day with something of interest for all ages. There will be displays of rocks, fossils and minerals as well as copies of several new interpretation boards that have recently been installed at geological sites in South Gloucestershire. A new free colour booklet describing the geology of South Gloucestershire will also be available on the day, see post of 27th June on this blog. The Bristol Naturalists' Society, the West of England Geologists' Association, the Avon RIGS Group and Bath Geological Society will all be represented at the event. So don't miss out — make a date in your diary now!"

The free event will run from 10am to 4pm on Monday 27 August 2007 on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path near Saltford. The event (Grid Ref: ST 686679) is located approximately 200 yards north west of the Bird in Hand Public House at Saltford (on the stretch of the Railway Path between Saltford and Bitton). Access to the Railway Path and the event can be made via the Bird in Hand PH car park or from Avon Lane, Saltford.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Christian Malford Squid Bed, Wiltshire

One of the most famous fossil localities in Britain, the Christian Malford Squid Bed in Wiltshire yields beautifully preserved squid complete with soft body parts. This will be the focus of a detailed investigation by a group of Earth Scientists, including Dr. Keith Duff from Natural England. The project has been awarded some funding by the Geologists' Association Curry Fund.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

East Mendip Study Centre

The East Mendip Study Centre is an educational resource funded by all the quarry companies in the Mendip Hills, under the umbrella body of MQP. It is situated near Whatley Quarry, Frome, Somerset, (photo). There are quarry tours in August and tours for school parties throughout the year. It is an excellent resource, especially for teachers, and staff at the centre will cater for your needs from earth science and geography to biology. One of the most popular activities is joining in a role play where half the group members are pro-quarrying and half against quarrying. All the various important issues are discussed. If you are interested, contact Gill or Mary on 01373 475931 or 01373 475916.

After a visit to the Centre it is then easy to visit Tedbury Camp and the de la Beche site at Vallis Vale, both near Great Elm. These make up one of UKRIGS Educational sites.

Friday, 20 July 2007

ECOS Frome

Please see what you think of the ECOS website. It has progressed a bit more now. It is crazy that these amazing monoliths do not seem to have any recognition or publicity anywhere. They are a wonderful resource especially for earth science teachers but, sadly, they badly need cleaning. Compare how they look today with the photos on the website which were taken some years ago.

This Spanish granite is the only one which has not weathered badly and you can still see the quartz, feldspar and mica crystals easily. There is also quite a lot of iron pyrites, (fools' gold).

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Clay and Chalk Pits, Westbury, Wiltshire - 28th July

On Saturday 28th July, Simon Carpenter will be leading a field trip to the Clay and Chalk Pits at Westbury, Wiltshire.

This field trip will provide a fascinating opportunity to visit the fossil-rich Kimmeridge Clay. Many spectacular marine reptile fossils have been found here over the last 20 years. Simon Carpenter has recently discovered the remains of a new species of marine crocodile and will be bringing a selection of fossils from his own collection along on the day. The morning will be spent in the clay pit. After lunch, we will move to Beggars Knoll Quarry which exposes Lower, Middle and Upper Chalk. Fossils are plentiful at both clay and chalk quarries, so don't forget your collecting bags and hammers.

If you are planning to stay all day, please bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink. Sturdy boots are advisable and hard hats are essential at the chalk quarry. Both quarries are sun traps, so make sure you have your sun screen with you.

Meet: 10.30am Lafarge Cement Works, Westbury, Wiltshire (ST 880527).
There is a long approach road to the Cement Works. Please look out for signs for the Visitors' Car Park.

Please contact Simon Carpenter on 01373 474086 in advance of the meeting so that he can keep a check on numbers.

Specimen Cabinet free to a good home

If anyone would like this, with or without its rocks, please contact the Chairman, Bath Geological Society.

The metre rule shows its size.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Geology and Industrial Archaeology

On Saturday 21st July, members of the Bath Geological Society and the Colerne History Group will be visiting Tedbury Camp and Fussells Ironworks, both near Frome, Somerset.

We are meeting at the ECOS monoliths (website under construction) outside the Merlin Theatre in Frome at 10.30 a.m. After a brief investigation of these amazing rocks, we shall continue to Tedbury Camp and explore the 150 million year-old sea floor before following the Mells River to the site of the Fussells Ironworks. If time allows, we shall also walk along the river to see the famous de la Beche unconformity where there is a time gap of approximately 150 million years between the Carboniferous limestone deposited when Britain was just south of the equator, and the Middle Jurassic limestone, deposited when we were in Mediterranean latitudes.

Everyone is welcome on this trip - - email the secretary at Bath Geological Society

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Silbury Hill, Wiltshire

The Sanctuary, West Kennett Long Barrow and the West Kennett palisade enclosures plus the stone-lined avenues, stone circles and deep ditches of Avebury are probably all interconnected by the religious beliefs of the Neolithic people. Silbury Hill does not fit the pattern; it is an enigma. Why was such a hill built at the bottom of a waterlogged hollow? Lothar Respondek, the author of this very interesting and thought-provoking book has researched the climate, the landscape and the natural environment of the Neolithic people some 4500 years ago to try to answer all the questions surrounding Silbury Hill.

The book is £6.99, published by Elar Publishing. It can be obtained from The Corsham Book Shop, 16 High Street, Corsham, 01249 715988.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Fossil Hunt at Writhlington, Radstock

Today, the pupils of Lowry class from Kilmersdon School visited Radstock Museum and Writhlington Batch. The latter is a really good place to find Coal Measures plant fossils. Lots of leaves from seed ferns (Neuropteris photo) and ferns were found plus many leaves from Cordaites, thought to be an ancestor of the conifers. There were also numerous Horsetail (Calamites) stems and some horsetail leaves (Annularia). Only one example of Club Moss (Lepidodendron) bark was found. At the Museum, the children learned about coal mining in the area and visited the mine reconstruction.

The displays in Radstock Museum reflect the history of the local community. It is well worth a visit; have a look at the website.

Climate Change

This blog was intended to be about geology in the west country but I was sent this video clip and want to share it with everyone. What do you think?

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

A Journey across 400 million years

This new publication by Avon RIGS is excellent and tells the story of the geological history of South Gloucestershire, spanning some 400 million years.

Three 'must see' sites are mentioned, with grid references, Aust Cliff, Huckford Quarry Local Nature Reserve and Wick Golden Valley Local Nature Reserve. There are 6 new information boards in the area and 5 other sites of interest are mentioned.

The story goes from the oldest limestones and lavas through mountains and coral seas to tropical forests to deserts and back to the sea again. The text is well illustrated featuring diagrams, maps, fossils, photos of what you will see and impressions of what the area looked like in the past. The booklet concludes with a generalised geology map. It is free and can be obtained from the Avon RIGS group.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Wootton Bassett Mud Springs

The author of this excellent book 'Hidden Depths' is leading a field trip for the Bath Geological Society, and for anyone else who wants to go, this Saturday 16th June. She will be visiting the strange Wootton Bassett mud springs and looking at the Upper Jurassic Portlandian sequence in Swindon Railway Cutting. The geology of the springs is well described in the book which can be obtained from the author, Wiltshire Geology Group or from Ex Libris Press at £9.95.

Everyone is welcome on Saturday; visitors are asked to pay £3.00.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Thornbury Geology Group

There is yet another geological organisation in the West Country! Thornbury Geology Group was formed in 2003 and is based at Thornbury Museum, (follow the link - Newsletters - Geology Research).

Meetings are held at 7.30p.m. in the Chantry, Castle Street, Thornbury on the third Thursday of each month. Although no formal lectures are arranged, members are encouraged to share their interest in geology with others at the meetings. Field meetings are held during the spring and summer months. You can contact the organiser by email.

Monday, 4 June 2007

All Sites of Geological Interest in Avon

Did you know that in Bristol City Museum, there is a CD describing all the sites of geological interest in the old Avon area (Bristol, North Somerset, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire). Eventually, it is hoped to publish this on the Museum's website.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Earth Learning Idea - Quake Shake

'Quake Shake - will my home collapse?'
This is the first sample activity to be published by Earth Learning Idea.
It is a simple investigation into why some buildings collapse when an earthquake strikes and why some do not. Like all ELI activities, it requires minimal cost and equipment and will lead to lots of discussion.

Earth Learning Idea will publish Earth-related teaching ideas for teachers and teacher trainers across the globe. One activity will be published every week next year, The International Year of Planet Earth.

Please have a look at our website - Links - Earth-related activities and let us know what you think either by email ( or by clicking the 'comment' link below.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Volcanoes and Coral Reefs in South Gloucestershire

Yesterday I spent my day looking at lava which flowed over the Tortworth area about 425 million years ago when this bit of the Earth's crust was about 30 degrees south of the equator.

Later we moved into a warm, shallow sea where I collected about 20 little horn corals, Pycnactis (as illustrated), only about 3 cm long.

Of course, I was on the Bath Geological Society's field trip, mentioned in my post of 6th May. It was an excellent trip, very well researched and organised. It was led by an expert on the geology of the area, a member of both the Bath Geological Society and of the Avon RIGS Group. The leader's car boot was full of beautiful specimens he had collected previously from the sites. He had specimens of all the creatures shown in the cartoon - the tabulate 'chain' coral, Halysites, trilobites, crinoids and brachiopods. The sea was teeming with life but there was virtually nothing on land; no trees, no flowers, no grass and certainly no animals. At least the rocks would have been well exposed.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Geology of the Hot Springs, Bath

Have you seen the article about the hot springs in Bath in 'Geoscience in South-West England', Journal of the Ussher Society?

Click here to view it.

There are lots of interesting articles in this Journal so it's worth scrolling through the website.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Dinosaurs of Gloucestershire

Have you seen the new posters produced by the Gloucestershire Geology Trust? (in the Publications section)

There are 7 in total, all A2 size.

Subscribe to this Blog

Thank you for the emails relating to this blog. A number of you have asked about subscriptions.

In the right-hand column, you can subscribe to this blog by email or RSS reader (click here to find out more about RSS). Subscriptions are free. You will then be informed whenever there is a new post.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

New RIGS sites in South Gloucestershire

Recently the only known exposure of the early Devonian (Downtonian) Thornbury Beds in the outskirts of Thornbury has achieved RIGS status. It is a small roadside stream bank showing the maroon sandstones typical of this formation. They are about 410 million years old and were deposited in desert conditions when 'Britain' was at about 23 degrees South.

A second recently identified RIGS site is near the castle and Parish Church where a low cliff displays the Triassic Dolomitic Conglomerate as a series of clastic flows fining from south to north. Some of the clasts are boulders 1 metre across. You can imagine the power of the flash flood that moved these. It's called 'Thornbury Rock' not to be confused with the sugary stick. It is about 230 million years old and was deposited when 'Britain' was again in desert latitudes at about 23 degrees North.

A third RIGS is in the Tortworth Inlier and is of the Silurian Wenlock Limestone. It's in a ditch 2m x 1m but it does have very good fossils, including stromatolites (algal mats). This limestone is about 425 million years old and was formed in a warm sea when 'Britain' was at about 30 degrees South. This site is on private land and will be visited by members of the Bath Geological Society on their field trip on 12th May.

Monday, 23 April 2007

The First Geology Field Trip?

Geologists on Claverton Down in Bath,
20,000 years ago in the Devensian!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Cost of 'Stones of Hestercombe' book

The cost of the book is £3.50 plus post and packing (about £1.50).

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

The Stones of Hestercombe

'The Stones of Hestercombe' is the latest publication by Hugh Prudden of the Somerset Geology Group. It describes a geological tour of the rocks and stonework of Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton. The unique geological features in the gardens, including an outcrop of rare diorite, mean that it is recognised as a RIGS (Regionally Important Geological Site).

The book is beautifully written, exceptionally well illustrated and covers a great deal of history as well as detailed geology.

It is thoroughly recommended and can be obtained from:-
The Hestercombe Gardens Trust
Cheddon Fitzpaine
Taunton TA2 8LG

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Cotswold Hills Geopark

Did you know that in June 2006, the Cotswold Hills Geopark was launched and during 2007 it will be put forward to the European Geoparks Network (EGN) for consideration as a European Geopark and UNESCO Global Geopark?

The Cotswolds is an excellent place to learn about carbonate sediments, fossils, the history of geology, geomorphology and Quaternary landforms. It is the most impressive and notable outcrop of British Middle Jurassic carbonate rocks in the country.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Geology for Children

Rockwatch is an excellent nationwide club for young geologists. It is the junior club of the Geologists' Assocation. New members receive a Rox file with a basic set of geological fact cards, full colour geological map of the British Isles, a 'Thumbs-Up' guide showing how to make the best of a collection and a list of UK museums with geological collections.

Events and field trips are run throughout the year in various parts of the country and members also receive a magazine three times a year.

Join now!

More Geological Organisations

Thanks to the information in your emails, I have added to my list of geological organisations in this area - all listed on the right side of this blog.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

RIGS - Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites

RIGS groups aim to identify, survey, protect and promote geological and geomorphological sites within their areas. RIGS are selected for their educational, research, historical and aesthetic value and some sites already have SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) status.

The nationwide organisation UK RIGS ( has set up twelve sites of exceptional educational value. We are very fortunate in the West Country in that one of those sites is in Somerset - Tedbury Camp and Vallis Vale -

I am leading a field trip to Tedbury Camp and Vallis Vale for the Bath Geological Society on Saturday 21st July. Please contact the secretary if you are interested in joining us -

Friday, 30 March 2007

Earth Science in Secondary Education

If you are a science teacher (usually biologist, chemist or physicist) and you have to teach KS3 or KS4 Earth Science, please consider asking me in to run a FREE workshop for the science staff. These are devised by the Earth Science Education Unit (ESEU) and are packed with activities which your pupils will enjoy. The KS3 workshops can be seen on the ESEU website

There are also two new workshops for KS4 covering all the Earth Science in the new specifications.
These are not on the website yet but I have already demonstrated them to loud approval from the participants. They are:-
  • The Earth and Plate Tectonics; the whole story
  • Life, Atmosphere and everything

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Geological Organisations in the West Country

Maybe because of our increasing awareness of the need to conserve and preserve our environment, I find that lots of people are now very interested in geology. On the right-hand side of this blog you will see a list of all the geological organisations in the West Country and it is hoped that this will help to assimilate ideas from all the members and officers of those societies and groups.

Eventually, I hope we can publish a list of all sites of geological interest in our area so if you know of any that have public access, please let us know. Most of the groups already have their own lists which we can all share. Perhaps we can join together for field trips too?