Monday 28 December 2009

Field Geology in Pembrokeshire (Part 1)

There has been a problem with the new Pembrokeshire Part 1’ course arrangement to be run by Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University: some people have enquired to Cardiff about the course, only to be told that there is no such course available! It is available and the organisers in Cardiff need to know the level of interest in the course by the end of January.
People who express an interest will be informed in due course of when to pay the tuition fee (£85.00) to the University.

Contact at Cardiff to send expressions of interest: Dr Zbig Sobiesierski - email
Details - The Pembrokeshire landscape differs from much of Wales in that it is largely unmountainous, with extensive areas forming plateaux lying below 183m (600 ft). The landscape is nonetheless striking, with steep slopes and rocky outcrops a widespread feature; most of the highly attractive coast, designated a National Park, is cliff-lined. The county’s geology ranges in age from late Precambrian times to the end of the Carboniferous period (c. 650 – 300 million years ago), with some localized much younger deposits, including those from the recent Ice Ages. On this course you can learn how this part of the earth’s crust passed northwards from the southern hemisphere, across the equator to its present position; it was compressed, stretched and compressed again during enormous intercontinental plate collision and extension events.
These changes in geographic location and tectonic activity are recorded in the rocks, leaving a legacy of magma intrusions and volcanic eruptions, deep and shallow tropical seas, tropical river plains and swamps. This course will examine a number of key locations, mostly coastal, where these often fossiliferous rocks can be examined. Part 1 focuses on Precambrian, Cambrian and Ordovician rocks located mostly in the north of the county, and is divided into 2 weekends to maximize safe access on tidal beaches. No prior knowledge of geology or the county
will be assumed. A pre-course handout covering details of meeting points, safety, geoconservation and geology will be sent to those enrolled.
Dates: Saturday 12th, Sunday 13th; Saturday 26th, Sunday 27th June 2010.

Friday 18 December 2009

Jurassic Coast Studies Centre

The Natural History Museum is joining together with the Field Studies Council, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team and Lyme Regis Development Trust to offer a range of Natural Science Courses operating from the Town in February and March 2010.
This Pilot Project offers a unique programme of field based learning led by leading specialists in zoology, entomology, botany, mineralogy and palaeontology to individual students, special interest groups and to further professional career development.
This is the first time that the Natural History Museum's Science Directorates are working in this way and student places will be limited on this pilot for an innovative, internationally significant educational offer based on the unique universal value of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage
Site. The 2010 pilot project is the next step in establishing the Jurassic Coast Studies Centre

Yellowstone's plumbing exposed

Click here for details. The most detailed seismic images yet published of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano shows a plume of hot and molten rock rising at an angle from the northwest at a depth of at least 410 miles, contradicting claims that there is no deep plume, only shallow hot rock moving like slowly boiling soup.
A related University of Utah study used gravity measurements to indicate the banana-shaped magma chamber of hot and molten rock a few miles beneath Yellowstone is 20 percent larger than previously believed, so a future cataclysmic eruption could be even larger than thought.

Friday 11 December 2009

View a geological map of your area

The British Geological Survey has produced a wonderful new resource - Open Geoscience.
Click here to view the details.
To read about it on the BBC News, click here.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Geology Courses

Dr. Nick Chidlaw writes "I was very pleased to be able to run most of my intended courses and field trips this autumn, despite the closure last summer of Lifelong Learning provision with the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol; thanks are due to all those who were in a position to attend these courses on offer, and to a variety of local organizations including WEGA and Bath Geological Society for kindly agreeing to advertise the events to members. The venerable Geological Society of London has also shown concern over the end of Lifelong Learning at Bristol, and supports the efforts of former tutors who have decided to continue independently." 
Please click here to view the courses and trips Nick is proposing to run during the period January - June 2010 if there are enough takers to make them viable. If any of them are of interest to you, and you can attend, do get in touch and Nick will send you further information.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

18th Century Mineral Collection goes Online

After two years of hard work, the St. Aubyn mineral collection can now be viewed online with images of the specimens themselves. Since January 2008, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery have been researching their St. Aubyn Collection of minerals and pressed plants after securing a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. During that time, members of staff in the natural history department have uncovered lots of information about the life of Sir John St. Aubyn (1758-1839), and have carried out a variety of work on the collection, from cleaning the herbarium sheets to re-storing the mineral collection in an improved environment.  
Creating an online resource where the famous mineral collection can be viewed marks an important milestone in the culmination of the project. Alongside Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery‘s own mineral collection of St. Aubyn specimens; it is also possible to see minerals which were located in external collections from around the country during this project.  
The St. Aubyn project is due to complete in January 2010, when an exhibition on the life of Sir John begins its tour in the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.
For more information about the touring exhibition, please contact Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery on 01752 304774.

Wootton Bassett fossils

There is a new display cabinet of Wootton Bassett fossils in Wootton Bassett library. It is aimed at the casual visitor. All fossils (mostly bivalves and ammonites) are labelled with their binomial scientific description and  provenance. There is also some explanatory text and a geological cross-section through Wootton Bassett.
If you are in Wootton Bassett, do drop in and have a look. The display and research are by Richard Gosnell

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Fossilized embryos - Thursday December 3rd

'Fossilized embryos from the dawn of animal evolution'. This lecture will be given by Dr. John Cunningham from University of Bristol at 7.30p.m. on December 3rd at the BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath.
The fossil record had been thought to provide no evidence of embryonic development in early animals. However, over the past decade or so, a series of exceptionally preserved animal embryos from Cambrian and Ediacaran rocks have been described. These provide our first direct evidence of embryology at the dawn of animal evolution.
Everyone is welcome to attend - members free, visitors £4.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Fife and Lothian trip in March 2010

Following a very successful visit last October, Nick Chidlaw is re-running this field trip. Possible dates are either Sunday 7th – Wednesday 10th or Sunday 21st – Wednesday 24th March 2010.
Please let Nick know which date you prefer by next Sunday - 6th December.
Tuition fee is £80.00 per person. Fees would not need to be paid until Sunday 31st January.
Click here for further details.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Careers Evening - 1st December

The Western Region of the Geological Society is holding a Careers Evening on Tuesday 1st December, 6.00 for 6.30pm
An introduction to careers in several areas of geoscience suitable for students, recent graduates or people in the early stages of their careers. Talks will be given by several accomplished geoscientists with a range of expertise and will be followed with an opportunity to network.
Speakers include:
• Dr Mary Benton, University of Bristol
• Andrew Lawrence, Mott MacDonald
• Dr Mike Board, Nuclear Technologies
• Nathan Littlewood, URS Corporation
• Finlay Booth, Mott MacDonald
The event will he held in the S H Reynolds Lecture Theatre (Room G25), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ
Click here for directions
Refreshments will be available from 6 pm.
In case of any query please contact the Convenor, Toby Hopkins.
Everyone is welcome.

Friday 20 November 2009

Pembrokeshire 17 - 18 April 2010

There is a South west Geologists' Association trip to the Old Red Sandstone of South Pembrokeshire in April 2010 to be led by Dr. Brian Williams.
Accommodation has been arranged at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby at the special rate of £72.00 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast (twin-sharing basis). You will need to book before Christmas to take advantage of this offer! The Hotel will act as the HQ for the trip and all the maps, books, reprints, air photos and much more memorabilia on the ORS Research done in S. Pembs. will be on display in a dedicated room in the Hotel. Two recent ex-Ph.D. research
students on the ORS of S.Pembs - Rob Hillier and Lance Morrissey - will be in charge of this as well as helping in the field over the two-day trip.
Saturday 17th April
- Albion Sands, Marloes
- St. Brides Haven
- Little Castle Head
- Llanstadwell.
Meet at at 10.00 am from the main car park at Marloes - return to Hotel c.6.30 pm. for 7.30 pm.
Sunday 18th April
- Freshwater West
- Freshwater East
- Manorbier -
- Old Castle Head traverse
Meet at the main Freshwater West car park at 10.00 am. - trip ends in Manorbier c.6.00 pm.
A dedicated Guide Book for the Trip will be prepared by Brian.
Contact Steve Howe if you are interested.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Moon Rocks - tonight!

Don't forget the lecture 'Moon Rocks' this evening, organised by WEGA. It will be given by Professor Geoffrey Eglinton, a Professor Emeritus at Bristol and other places, who was one of the NASA researchers who examined the first rocks to come back from the moon 40 years ago.
The lecture will be held in the usual place - the Earth Sciences Lecture Theatre in the Wills Building - and at the usual time - 7:30. There will be a cheese and wine party afterwards.
Everyone is welcome.

Google Earth Shows Climate Change in Action

The University of Wales, Newport has produced a new learning resource that explores the use of Google Earth as a tool in exploring the impact of Climate Change on the planet.
The 'Sands of Time - A Google Earth approach to Climate Change Education' resource includes a free access online video and learning activities to help educationalists and climate change activists look at new ways of making use of the free Google Earth tool to explore the impact of climate change on a global scale.
This sees Newport's University combining two of its strengths - pioneering use of technology to develop educational resources and the championing of sustainable development and global citizenship.
The resource has been developed through collaboration between the University's Institute of Digital Learning and Professor Simon Haslett, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Oxfordshire Geology Trust events

Sunday 22nd November - The Geology & Landscape of Shotover.
A guided walk in Shotover Hill Country Park led by Ivan Wright of Shotover Wildlife & the OGT.
From 2 — 3:30pm.
GR SP 564062.
This is a 2 mile, circular walk suitable for adults & children.
Meet in the carpark at the east end of Old Road, Headington.

Saturday 12th December - Quarry Visit to Wroxton Fields Quarry, NW of Banbury.
Guided visit led by Lesley Dunlop of the OGT.
From 10 — 12pm.
GR SP 403420. Just off the A422, signposted - quarry.
This is a large-scale Marlstone Quarry. The marlstone/ironstone is Lower Jurassic in age & rich in fossils. Collecting is permitted.
Please wear sensible footwear. Safety hats & luminous jackets will be provided.
Pre-booking is essential for this trip. Please contact Denise Dane on 01608 811604 or email

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Lifelong Learning at Bristol

Click here to read about the sad demise of Life Long Learning (LL) courses at the University of Bristol. The article is written by Dr. Ted Nield editor of Geoscientist.
Please also read the comments on this post from Dr. Nick Chidlaw and Prof. Mike Benton. If you have something to add, please do so.

Monday 2 November 2009

Your favourite sedimentary rocks

A message from Dr Jon Noad, Chair, BSRG: British Sedimentary Research Group
“I am conducting a survey to find out what are geologists' THREE favourite sedimentary formations in the UK. ANYTHING sedimentary (from Silurian limestone to Jurassic shales to Eocene sandstone to Quaternary tills and more) can be included.
Please email your answers (three formations per person).
Note: this is the correct email address, even though it seems unlikely!

Rocks must be from the UK simply to keep responses manageable.
I look forward very much to seeing your answers"

Gordano photograph - apologies

This photograph was reproduced in the post of 28th September without full acknowledgement. It is Gordano Valley, 2006 and was taken by Martin Boulton.

Monday 26 October 2009

Geological Formation of Britain

A reader has sent the following link to a podcast, The Geological Formation of Britain.
It was broadcast on Thursday 22nd October and lasts for 43 minutes. Melvyn Bragg is joined by Richard Corfield, Jane Francis and Sanjeev Gupta to discuss this topic.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Wootton Bassett mud springs

Sunday November 29th, 10.30 a.m. Richard Gosnell is leading a trip to these famous mud springs. This is a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust event - - details on the website - - booking essential - - £2 per person.

Monday 4th January 2010. Richard is giving a presentation about the mud springs for Westbury Naturalists' Society - details from Margaret Sanders, 01373 822005.

Friday 16 October 2009

Vacancies for project work

Hereford and Worcester Earth Heritage Trust is pleased to announce that it has recently been successful in securing funding from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund for two new projects:
* Carrying out a review of our existing database and then liaising in the development of a new fully integrated system - Geological Database Consultant
* Conducting a feasibility study into the future use and management of a local quarry - Geological Feasibility Study Assistant
We are now looking for additional people to work on these projects.
Interested applicants should please submit a CV and covering letter, if possible by email.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Darwin and God - 17th October

Professor Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol is giving a talk at All Saints Church, Pembroke Road, Clifton this next Saturday at 7 p.m. 'Darwin and God'. Supper will be served afterwards but this will need to be booked - please refer to the website for email addresses and telephone numbers.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

New book - looks good!

A reader says: "The following book looks good, published in 2009.
Southern England: The Geology and Scenery of Lowland England (Collins New Naturalist Library) (Paperback) by Peter Friend.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Yann Arthus Bertrand

Bath 150 million years ago? The photo is of the Bahamas and is one of the collection, Earth from the Air. Have you seen the display of these fabulous photographs in Bath at the moment? They are by Yann Arthus Bertrand and there is also a film, 'Home'. It is just over an hour and a half long but the photography is stunning. A reader describes it as 'wonderful cine photography, rich in geology with an urgent message to humanity - - - totally captivating' Click here to view the film.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Sunday 4 October 2009

Tedbury Camp site clearance

Tedbury Camp has been transformed thanks to the hard work of a team of people from 24th - 30th September. Once again the geology can be seen and the access is easy. Everything described so accurately on the ESTA website can now be seen!
Click on the following to view more photos:-
West face
NE corner
Carboniferous limestone with chert
Contact at unconformity
Worm borings NE corner
Oysters on erosion surface - NE
Well done everyone!

Saturday 3 October 2009

Bristol NATs Geology and 21st October

Click here for a new blog giving information about the Geology section news of the Bristol Naturalists' Society.

Wednesday 21 October
2009 at 7:30, SH Reynolds Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Wills Building, Bristol University, Queens Road. Isobel Geddes (Wiltshire Geology Group)– 'The pre-historic landscape from Avebury to Stonehenge' In this talk Isobel will relate geology to the Stone Age, Bronze age and Iron Age monuments and burials of the Wiltshire downs. In the light of the fascinating Field Trip that many of you undertook just after Easter, this should be a very interesting talk. Please invite anyone you know who is interested in landscape (Coast addicts), archaeology (armchair Time Teamers included!), or palaeontology/anthropology (Alice Roberts fans), to come along too. I presume that those without enough time to watch TV will come along as usual.

Friday 2 October 2009

18th October - Chipping Norton Geology Trail

Oxfordshire Geology Trust is organising a guided walk along their Chipping Norton Geology Trail, in partnership with members of the Wychwood Project. This will be led by Bob Merchant of the OGT.
This is a circular walk that is 2.75 miles long. It is suitable for adults and children.
Meet at 2.00 p.m. at the Town Hall steps in Chipping Norton; car parking can be found adjacent to the Town Hall and refreshments are available in the town. The walk will finish at about 4.00p.m. No booking is required.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Charles Copp

Sad news to report - Charles Copp passed away at home on Thursday 24th September. His long battle with a brain tumour is finally over and he can rest in peace. His funeral will be on 8th Oct in Clevedon.
I'm sure many local geologists knew Charles and appreciated not only his expertise but also his enthusiasm for the subject. He did much work on the BRLSI fossil collection but his main research was on the Mesozoic fissure fills in the East Mendips.
Click here for details of the funeral.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Geology & Mining - Coal basins of Gloucestershire & former Avon

Sunday 11th October 2009.
Tutor: Dr Nick Chidlaw (geologist who has worked for several years in a coal mining consultancy).
Morning Lecture: (10 am - 1 pm) - Community Centre, Coleford, Forest of Dean;
Afternoon field trip: (2 - 5 pm) - Blackpool Valley near Parkend (exposures of Coal Measures strata including Coleford High Delf seam, and visit to entrances of freemines).
No prior knowledge of geology or coal mining assumed.
Fee: £20.00
To enrol / any queries, contact tutor by email by Friday 2nd October.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Deep Time Cabaret - A dance through time

In this humorous and anarchic production, Horse + Bamboo Theatre combine stunning visual theatre with Eastern European absurdism, folk songs and dance with film, animation and puppetry in a cabaret style to tell a powerful story about the wholeness and interdependence of everything on the planet.
The production has been inspired by and forms part of the Groundwork Pennine Lancashire managed, Heritage Lottery funded, Valley of Stone project.
Directed by Bob Frith with music by Loz Kaye and puppet design and direction by Alison Duddle. For adults and young people. Unsuitable for under 11s.
23 - 25 October: Clearwell Caves, Gloucestershire
26 October: Ustinov Theatre, Bath

Monday 21 September 2009

October 1st - Climate change is nothing new

On Thursday October 1st, Bath Geological Society is hosting Professor Paul Pearson's lecture, 'Global Warming and Climate Change in the Eocene and Oligocene Epochs' The Eocene world (55 million years ago) was much warmer than today, with tropical-type conditions extending into the polar regions. Then in the Oligocene (34 million years ago) the world cooled dramatically and a large ice cap appeared on Antarctica. In this lecture Paul Pearson from the University of Wales at Cardiff, assesses the latest evidence for this climate transition, the effect on life and sea level, and investigates possible explanations.
For some background reading click on here and here.
The photo above shows cores being taken from the Eocene - Oligocene climate transition near the village of Stakishari, Kilwa District, Tanzania.
7.15 for 7.30 BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath
Everyone is welcome - members free, visitors £4.00.

Friday 11 September 2009

Malvern Hills - Saturday 19th September

The Bath Geological Society is organising a field trip to the southern end of the Malvern Hills to be led by David Owen from Gloucester Geology Trust. Chase End Hill and Howlers Heath will be visited to see Malvernian pegmatites and gneiss, Ordovician Shales and dolerite sills, Silurian sandstones and Permo-Triassic sandstones and breccia. Also the trip will have great views of landscape.
The trip involves a moderate level of activity; there is a steep climb at one point, and a steep descent at another.
Strong footwear, waterproofs and a packed lunch are required.
Meet at 10.30 a.m. at GR SO 756,349. A map and written details are available by email or telephone - you are requested to 'phone 24 hours prior to this trip - 01249 443019 (mobile 07712 776117).
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Clearance work at Tedbury, near Frome

There will be major clearance of this very important site from 24th - 30th September.
Any help will be much appreciated.
Please email if you can help so that the work can be co-ordinated.
Further details about the site can be found by clicking on the following links:
UKRIGS - Earth Science On-Site
Tedbury Camp Quarry: a geological gem in the Mendip Hills

Monday 7 September 2009

Situation desperate - Bath Geological Society

From February 2010, the Bath Geological Society will need:-
  • Treasurer
  • Administrative secretary
  • Programme secretary
You do not need to be a geologist to fulfil any of these roles.
The rest of the committee will help with the compilation of the programme.
The committee meets four times a year.

Please contact the Chairman if you can help.

Our Constitution states that the Society must have a Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary.
The Society started in 1970 and has been flourishing ever since. We now have over 80 members; please consider giving us some of your time. We want to reach our 40th birthday and start aiming for the 50th!

Monday 24 August 2009

Help needed at Somerset Earth Science Centre

The organiser at the new Somerset Earth Science Centre is desperate to find someone who could help her at the Centre on an ad hoc basis. This person would be paid £40 - £50 per day. He/she would be helping with all ages (7 years to adult) on geology, rivers and environmental science.....
This is a great opportunity for someone with teaching experience and an interest in the natural world.
Email if you would like more details.

Saturday 22 August 2009

October trip to Fife and Lothian

Sunday 4th - Wednesday 7th October:
Over One Hundred Volcanic Vents: Fife and Lothian, Scotland
Leader: Dr. Nick Chidlaw
Four-days, entirely in the field - We shall examine the plethora of Carboniferous / Early Permian rocks in both coastal and inland exposures. We shall view the vents at Elie, St. Andrews, the Lomond Hills, North Berwick, and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh; pillow lavas will be seen at Kinghorn on the Fife coast.
Tuition fee £80.00.
Further details - click here
To contact Nick, click email
If you are interested in this trip, please let Nick know by Saturday 29th August. If the trip reaches viability by this date, further enrolments are welcome afterwards, up to one week before the trip is due to run.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Dates for your diary

Monday August 31st, 10.00 - 4.00 - Rock It

Thursday September 3rd, 7.30p.m. - Club Evening - Bath Geological Society
There will be a short presentation '90 years of geology' plus some exhibits by members. Everyone is welcome.

Saturday September 12th, 2.30 p.m. - Aust beach - from Permian Desert to Jurassic Sea. Beach walk to examine rocks on the beach and in the cliff. Leader John Toller, WEGA
Stout footwear advised. Minimum age 14 - Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult - minimum age 14
Please ring Heritage Open Days booking line between 9.00am -4.00pm on 01454 863592 weekdays to book a place.

Saturday 12th, Sunday 13th September - Oldwood Pit at Rangeworthy is open.
Members of Bristol NATs are meeting on 12th at 14.30 look around, in the light of David Hardwick's talk 'The Mines of South Gloucestershire and their Geology'.
The pit is up a narrow track, into a wooded area, off New Road(Wickwar Road on 25,000 OS), Rangeworthy. This is road runs eastward from the Memorial Hall, off of the B4058 as it passes through Rangeworthy. The grid reference for the pit itself is ST697863. There should be signs, at least from the B4058.
If you are likely to be there, please contact Bristol NATs.
If you are unable to be there at 14:30 on Saturday but would still like to visit, it is open from 14:00 until 18:00 on Saturday 12 and 10:00 until 18:00 on Sunday 13 September. There is, apparently, no charge for entry but a suitable donation would be gratefully accepted!

Saturday September 19th, 10.30 a.m. Bath Geological Society Southern end of the Malvern Hills, Leader: Dave Owen, Gloucester Geology Trust
We will visit Chase End Hill and Howlers Heath at the southern end of the Malverns and see Malvernian pegmatites and gneiss, Ordovician Shales and dolerite sills, Silurian sandstones and Permo-Triassic sandstones and breccia. Also the trip will have great views of landscape.Meet at 10.30 a.m. at GR SO 756349. A map and written details will be available on request. There is a steep climb at one point, and a steep descent at another.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Rock & Fossil Event - 31st August

On Bank Holiday Monday, 31 August, between 10am and 4pm, the annual 'Rock & Fossil' event will take place on the Bristol & Bath Railway Path at Saltford near Bristol. This popular day provides an opportunity for the public to talk to experts about local rocks, fossils and minerals and to bring along some of their own examples to have them identified. Members of the Bristol Naturalist's Society will also be present to answer your queries about local natural history.
Simon Carpenter, the event organiser, says "This popular event returns for the ninth year with something of interest for all ages. There will be displays of local fossils and minerals, a geological quiz for adults and free fossil samples for children to take away. There is also a serious message - that many of our quarries and rock exposures are disappearing. At the end of the day it is all about popularising and protecting our geological heritage".
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 31 August 2009 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.
Click here for more details.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Oldest human fossil in Spain

A small piece of jawbone has been found in a cave in Spain; it is the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor in Europe and suggests that people lived on the continent much earlier than previously believed. The fossil was found at Atapuerca in northern Spain, along with stone tools and animal bones and is up to 1.3 million years old. That would be 500,000 years older than remains from a 1997 find that prompted the naming of a new species: Homo antecessor, or Pioneer Man, possibly a common ancestor to Neanderthals and modern humans.
Further details here.

Friday 17 July 2009

Monday 13 July 2009

Earth Trek and marble gravestones

EarthTrek is a global citizen science programme, launched on 1st July this year. One of the projects that people are being asked to become involved in is the measurement of the weathering of marble gravestones; click here for more details.
Note - the measurement of the lead letters can be done with a tyre depth gauge if a micrometer is not available.
Participants could also look to see if there is any difference in the weathering of one side of the stone from the other side; this may indicate the influence of the prevailing wind. In the U.K. the latitude and longitude of the site can be found on Ordnance Survey maps so you don't need GPS.
The weathering rates of gravestones are an indication of changes in the acidity of rainfall between locations and over time. The acidity is affected by air pollution and other factors, and could be used as a measure of changes in climate and pollution levels.
'Weathering - rocks breaking up and breaking down' is the Earthlearningidea activity concerned with the various ways rocks are weathered.

Monday 22 June 2009

11thJuly - Huntsman's and Hornsleasow Quarries

This field trip is organised by Bath Geological Society and will be led by David Glenn of Huntsman's Quarries. Both quarries are SSSI sites in the middle Jurassic. Huntsman’s Quarry is famous for its exposure of ‘Cotswold slate’ (Eyford Member). It yields a rich and diverse collection of fossils - turtles, crocodiles, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, fish, starfish, insects, ammonites and many more. Footprints of Megalosaurus have been found. A geological leaflet will be available. Hornsleasow Quarry is a microvertebrate site and fossiling here requires sieving. However, effort is rewarded as salamanders, frogs, turtles, crocodiles, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, lizards, Sterognathus, mammals and more can be found.
Meet at 10.00 a.m. at Huntsman’s Quarry, Buckle Street, Naunton, Cheltenham GL54 3BA, SP124255. From here we shall travel to Hornsleasow Quarry, SP133323. Strong boots are essential. We can provide hard hats and reflective jackets but please bring your own if have them. A packed lunch will also be required.
Please let the field secretary know if you will be present.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Fussell's Balance Lock Excavation

I know that many of you are interested in the Somerset Coal Canal. This link may also be of interest. If you wish to use the site, the author requests that you acknowledge the source. More information about the Dorset and Somerset Canal can be found here.

Monday 15 June 2009

Neanderthals in Doggerland

Click here to find out what this is all about!
WEGA suggest this link will help you with your homework for the group's February lecture.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Late notice - Pembrokeshire 3 - 10 August

Harrow and Hillingdon GS is running a trip to Pembrokeshire 3-10 August and we have two rooms available; they are a double and a twin.
The trip will be led by Roger Suthren of the University of Derby and will be based at the Broadmead Hotel (as in photo) in Tenby.
Transport between sites will be by car.
The cost is £585 per person (or £560 if 19 or more go). This includes a field guide compiled by Roger. Single occupancy may carry a supplement.
Can you please email by 19th June to let the organisers know if you're interested in going.

Friday 5 June 2009

Climate through time - new poster from BGS

Have you seen this fantastic new poster Climate through time produced by The British Geological Survey? It really is extremely interesting and thought-provoking. Do have a look at the details on the website.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

More dates for your diary - June 11th and 13th

Bath Geological Society is organising the following events for June -

June 11th: Geology of Bath's Water Supply by Luke De Vial, Head of Water Resources, Wessex Water
Bath gets most of its water from aquifers. They provide a good supply of drinking water, but its abstraction is not without its difficulties, in particular the need for careful considerations of the impact on river flows. Luke will explain how supplies to Bath are maintained without drying up of surface flows.

June 13th: Geological Ramble through the Quantocks led by Charles Hiscock, Bath Geological Society and Avon RIGS Group
Our ramble will take us over rocks of the eastern Quantocks, examining them in outcrop where we can, and using the best alternative where there are no exposures - the parish churches of the area. We will look at Devonian slates, Permian and Triassic conglomerates and sandstones and many others besides. We will finish by visiting Hestercombe House to see the exquisite Lutyens gardens and, hopefully, some lovely flowers, and the exposure and use of the Hestercombe diorite.
Meet at North Petherton cemetery ref. ST295335 at 10.30 a.m. From junction 24 of the M5, join the A38 by turning left (south) towards North Petherton. After just over 0. 75 miles, turn right - the cemetery is on the right after about 100 yds. Bring a packed lunch, hand lens and wear stout footwear. The localities will be approached by car but we will need to walk over rough ground for short distances. Please contact the field secretary of Bath Geological Society if you wish your name to be added to the list.

Monday 1 June 2009

Sea Dragons of Avalon

Do you associate sea dragons with Street in Somerset? It seems you should - click here to view the details. The Sea Dragons of Avalon seminar will be held at the modern Strode Theatre in Street, on the edge of the marshes forming the Somerset Levels, opposite King Arthur’s legendary Isle of Avalon on July 31st 2009. It will offer a fresh look at the Street area, one of the classic source localities for marine reptiles during the 19th century alongside Lyme Regis. The seminar will be set in the wider context of the latest Triassic and early Jurassic faunal turnovers, and topics will include assessment of the Triassic-Jurassic marine reptile fauna together with contemporary changes in land reptiles, marine fishes and marine invertebrates. This is highly topical in light of interest in the end-Triassic mass extinction and recent resurvey of the Street area by the British Geological Survey. New vertebrate finds, together with posters by workers and institutions in the south-west of England, will be on display and we plan to visit the Alfred Gillett Collection of local fossil reptiles by kind courtesy of the archives of the Alfred Gillett Trust.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Dates for your Diary - 30th May and 27th June

Saturday 30 May
Tresham to Alderley

Field leader: Chris Townson
An informal circular walk from Tresham to Alderley back to Tresham with some geology along the way. Packed lunch essential. Expect fossils (e.g. brachiopod, bivalves, traces of belemnites and ammonites) in the bank & other areas near footpath. Return to village can be tailored to suit, but no later than 4pm.
Park /meet at Tresham Village 11:00 on grass verge looking down the valley Explorer 167, Ref ST794912. Contact Bristol Naturalists' Society.

Saturday 27 June 2009
Aust Cliff and Manor Farm, South Gloucestershire
Field leader: Simon Carpenter
Aust Cliff and Manor Farm are geological sites of national and international importance. Both localities expose rocks of Upper Triassic age (approximately 210 million years old) - with plentiful fossils. Of particular interest is the bone bed, containing a profusion of teeth and bones of marine reptiles and fish. The rocks also contain abundant invertebrate fossils including bivalves and many trace fossils - all of which are beautifully preserved. Simon will explain how these rocks were formed and using fossils from his own collection, describe some of the spectacular animals that once lived during this period. Following our visit to Aust Cliff, we will have lunch at the Boars Head in Aust village or alternatively bring a packed lunch. The afternoon will be spent at Manor Farm - a short distance inland from the Aust Cliff section.
Meeting: 10:30am at the old Aust ferry crossing, Old Passage ST 564889. Old Passage is located West of Aust and close to the banks of the River Severn estuary. Please bring hard hats and wear boots as both localities can be very muddy. Contact Bristol Naturalists' Society.

Monday 25 May 2009

Summer geology rambles

Those of you who like a good geology ramble may have already met Dave Green. His latest programme includes walks in Gloucestershire, on both sides of the Severn, on Tuesday evenings, starting at 7:00, from 2 June, going on to 14 July. Purely coincidentally, these walks often finish near a pub.
They are not free, but are excellent value at £8 each, £45 for the 7 weeks, payable on the day.
This year he intends to go to:
Haresfield, Cold Ashton, Sedbury, Capler Camp, Bream, Nottingham Hill and Chipping Sodbury.
Details are from Dave on 01594 860858 or email.

Friday 22 May 2009

Portland - May 24th

There is still time to join WEGA's trip to Portland this Sunday. All the details are on the WEGA website - go to 'Excursions'. Click on 'About Us' to contact the Secretary if you would like to join the trip.

Monday 27 April 2009

Bath and Bristol as a Cradle of Geology 1750 - 1850

The Colin Horstmann Memorial Lecture, Bath and Bristol as a Cradle of Geology 1750 - 1850 is given this year by Professor Hugh Torrens from Keele University.
It will be held at 7.30p.m. on Thursday 7th May
at BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath, hosted by Bath Geological Society.

"This area has held a special place in the history of geology ever since it was christened the ‘cradle of English geology’ in 1826 by Rev. Joseph Hunter. This was the result of the work there of William Smith (1769-1839) and who then responded to Hunter by noting that High Littleton had been its ‘birthplace’. But Smith had had several forerunners in this area, some quite forgotten, who will be discussed, as will Smith’s legacy in terms of the work of some of the many other later Bristol-Bath area geologists. The importance of the establishments of the two separate ‘Scientific Institutions’ in Bristol (founded 1820) and Bath (founded 1823) must also be considered, as will their quite separate, and instructive, legacies to the area."
Everyone is welcome to attend this lecture. It is free to members of Bath Geological Society and £4 for visitors. Refreshments will be served at the end of the talk.

Friday 17 April 2009

Future plans for Bristol's Museum

If you are interested in the future of the geology collections in Bristol Museum, you may be interested to know about this stakeholders' meeting. This is to discuss future plans for Bristol's Museums, Galleries and Archives Service and will be held at the Colston Hall between 4 and 6 on Monday 20th April.
The feed back from this meeting will, we are assured, be useful for the Museum's Select Committee at their next meeting. So if you can come please do so.

Monday 13 April 2009

April 18th - The Avebury Landscape - Monuments and Megaliths

As part of the Bath Geological Society programme, Isobel Geddes from the Wiltshire Geology Group will be leading this field trip on Saturday April 18th - 'The Avebury Landscape - Monuments and Megaliths'. This will be a walk relating local geology to archaeology in the pre-historic landscape of the Kennet valley, visiting the West Kennet long barrow, Silbury Hill, the Sanctuary and the Ridgeway then down the West Kennet Avenue to Avebury. This is a 4-5 mile walk.
Meet at Silbury Hill car park (free), SU 097 685 at 10.30am. We will be at Avebury at lunchtime so there are facilities/pub/cafe for those who prefer not to picnic. Participants can then return to their cars (1 mile) at their leisure after a tour around the stone circle/buildings (and those that have already done that, could go!). Avebury car park is free to NT members and we will arrange for some cars to be there.
Contact the Bath Geological Society's field secretary for further details.

Sunday 5 April 2009

From Fossil Fish to Fossil Forests

From Fossil Fish to Fossil Forests, Evolution of Life and Landscapes in The Marches, is a short residential summer school at Lucton School near Leominster - 9th - 12th July 2009.
All details and a booking form can be found on the website.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

April 2nd - 'After Darwin: where is evolution going?'

This lecture will be given by Professor Simon Conway-Morris from the University of Cambridge for Bath Geological Society
'Darwin still bestrides the evolutionary stage, but is it time to call for a scene change? Darwin got it very largely right, but is that all there is to say? Whispers of a post-Darwinian world are growing: a world where evolution has learnt to evolve and by no means is everything as random as is often thought.'
This lecture is celebrating
Darwin200, a national programme of events celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday on 12th February 2009. The BRLSI has organised its own programme, ‘Darwin and Beyond’ - further details on the BRLSI website.
BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath at 7.15 p.m.
Everyone is welcome to this lecture - free to members - £4 for visitors.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Geology collection under threat

Bristol City Museum’s world class geology collection is under threat and your support is urgently needed.
Currently there is now only one person actively employed across both the Geology and Biology departments at Bristol City Museum's Galleries and Archives. This situation has been created by the reluctance of senior management to replace curatorial staff. This is a highly unsustainable and unacceptable situation considering the large size (over 1 million specimens in total) and national importance (designated status of the geology collections) of these collections.
Requests for access to material by researchers have been met with some degree of reluctance and consequently researchers should not expect to be able to visit the collections or loan material easily. Potential donors may also find the museum reluctant to accept material.
This situation is to be further compounded by a proposed staff restructuring and a “shift in focus to the Visual Arts”. Senior management want a reduction in museum visitor opening hours with further reductions in front of house, curatorial and conservation staffing. The latter will result in the loss of 9 out of 26 curatorial and conservation posts as well as the merger of the remaining conservation and curation posts. The resultant savings are to be channelled towards public engagement and completion of the faltering Museum of Bristol project (See MA Journal Issue 109/01, p6, January 2009).
Although no official word on the detail of the new structure has been released and staff are apparently unable to comment, it is thought likely that the biology and geology departments will be combined to create a “Natural History Department” that will be staffed by a Senior Curator and a Curator, one with a biology background and the other with geology. This will entail a 60% reduction in staff with natural history backgrounds and provide no specialist conservation cover. The reason why this complex and confusing approach has been adopted is to reduce staffing resources whilst attempting to maintain designated status for the geology collections and thereby avoid compromising the service’s registered status. Instead of improving the service, management are opting for tokenistic curatorial care with essentially non-existent conservation cover. These proposals will reduce staffing to a skeleton level that will clearly compromise basic accessibility and collections care.
These problems are further exacerbated by a proposed “shift in focus towards the visual arts”, which, given the above, can only lead to the City Museum and Art Gallery primarily becoming an Art gallery. The management suggests in public documents that the intention is to retain an ‘encyclopaedic’ museum. However, the staffing proposals and the shift in emphasis toward visual arts suggest that this will be merely a token gesture. This amounts to neglect of public accessibility to a fundamental part of their heritage. It is also a stunning abrogation of the management’s and/or council’s responsibilities to a world class and UK designated collection.
Currently senior management is involved in discussions with union representatives (contact between management and staff has been inconsistent, disparate and vague) to discuss changes.
Bristol City Council has set up a select committee of councillors to oversee the changes. However, this group to date has only rubber-stamped the new staffing restructure on January 14th without even consulting staff or unions. A question signed by c.80 members of staff has been submitted to the select committee due to meet on 23rd March, asking that they reconsider their position and talk to staff.
This committee has invited statements and questions regarding the staffing structure in Bristol and the potential impacts this will have on existing collections. The more questions to the select committee the better so I hope that readers will duly oblige and send their statements and questions to this forum.
Questions and statements could focus on requesting reassurances that the geology collections will not only be adequately cared for but also continue to be developed and used for the public benefit.
Please send letters or e-mails to the councillors listed.
As internal negotiations are still taking place, the process of implementation has not yet started but if readers are concerned now is the time to act if there is to be any chance to influence the situation.

Thursday 12 March 2009

GA Field trip to Forest of Dean - 4th - 5th April

We still have places available on our Forest of Dean Field trip, 4-5th April
This trip will be led by Dr Bernard Cooper a consulting geologist. It will be a weekend looking at the beautiful landscapes of the Forest of Dean. There will be interesting walks, industrial archaeology going back to the Romans and, hopefully, the opportunity to go down one of the last remaining free mines in the forest
Contact Sarah Stafford at the GA as son as possible if you are interested.

Friday 6 March 2009

Osmington Mills Field Trip - March 15th

Bath Geological Society is organising a day trip to Dorset on March 15th. This will be led by Alan Holiday of the Dorset GA Group. It will be a brilliant day working west and east along the coast from Osmington Mills - Jurassic and Cretaceous geology.
Meet at 11.00 a.m. Smugglers car park GR SY735816. You will need a hard hat, boots and a packed lunch. We can provide some hard hats. Visitors £4.00.
Please let us know if you coming - email.

9th March - Obsidians

WEGA invites you to a lecture on 9th March - 'Obsidians' by Dr. Alison Rust. Alison will have some specimens to show at the cheese and wine party after her talk.
SH Reynolds Lecture Theatre,
Wills Memorial Building
Queens Road,
Bristol at 7.30 p.m.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

March 5th - Tsunami in the Bristol Channel

'The 1607 Flood: a Tsunami in the Bristol Channel?' This is the title of Professor Simon Haslett's talk to be given at the BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath on Thursday March 5th.
The Killer Wave of 1607 which caused the flood in the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary was the worst ever recorded in the British Isles. The area affected stretched from North Devon, through Somerset and Gloucestershire, and along the South Wales coast from Monmouthshire to Carmarthenshire, some 570 km of coast! The coastal population was devastated with at least 2000 fatalities, according to one of the contemporary sources. In some parts of the coast the population never recovered from the social and economic disaster. Professor Haslett has used documentary and fieldwork evidence to propose a new interpretation of its cause as a tsunami.
Everyone is welcome to this talk - £4 entry fee for visitors.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Fossil Sea Dragons at Radstock Museum

The exhibition of marine reptile fossils at Radstock Museum will be on display from February 2nd until March 25th 2009.
In 1996, Simon Carpenter found a giant marine reptile called a pliosaur at the Blue Circle Cement works at Westbury, Wiltshire. This was excavated by a team of geologists from Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery and the University of Bristol. The specimen was donated by Blue Circle Cement PLC to Bristol City Museum. Simon's new crocodile has been named Dakosaurus carpenteri after its discoverer. (Click here for more details - 'Fossil Collector is immortalised')
Radstock Museum
Waterloo Road
Tel: +44 (0)1761 437722
Tuesday to Friday inclusive, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays: 2pm to 5pm
Saturday: 11am to 5pm
Closed Mondays except for Bank Holidays