Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Registration for the HOGG Conference

The Geological Society HOGG (History of Geology Group) Conference on Geological Collectors and Collecting will take place on 4-5 April 2011 at the Flett Theatre at the Natural History Museum in London. The conference covers collecting of geological maps and books as well as fossils, rocks and minerals. It is timed to coincide with the Christies Sale of Travel, Science and Natural History Artefacts on 6 April 2011. Convenors include John Henry (HOGG member, and proprietor of 19th Century Geological Maps), Sarah Long (Head of Palaeontology Collections at the Natural History Museum London), and Nina Morgan (Science writer and HOGG committee member). We are now beginning our registration process. A full programme and timetable for the conference, a registration form, which provides full details about the conference costs and how to register and a poster about the conference can be downloaded from the HOGG website The conference will cater for a wide range of interests, and is open to all. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

17th Nov - Practical Sustainability in the Geological Sector

We still have a few places remaining for the Geological Society Western Regional Group and University of Bristol conference on Practical Sustainability in the Geological Sector. The event will be held on Wednesday 17th November in the University of Bristol Department of Earth Sciences (Wills Memorial Building, Bristol) between 1:30 and 6:30pm and is free to all delegates. If you or a colleague would like to attend please contact the event organiser, Nicola Berry.
There will be speakers from a range of professional backgrounds presenting and answering 'quick-fire' questions on topics including:
* Carbon Dioxide Storage in a Depleted Oil Field, Weyburn, Canada James Verdon, University of Bristol
* Engineered Geothermal Systems - Heat Mining and Tomatoes from Eden Gary Graveling, Buro Happold
* Case Study of a Sustainable Colliery and Cokeworks Remediation Project Paul Tilley, Environmental Scientifics Group
* Sustainable Waste Management - An Industry Perspective Emma Keen, Churngold
* Carbon Footprinting and Other Practical Tools to Measure Sustainability in Geo-engineering Projects Colin Harding, Mott MacDonald
* Net Environmental Benefit Analysis: A Tool to Assess Risks to Ecosystems and Assist with Environmental Decision-Making Anne Johnston, Environ UK Limited

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Somerset - Geological Sculpture

The photo shows views of the recently installed wooden sculpture at Staple Hill on the northern edge of the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Happily the stratigraphy is simple with mainly horizontal bedding and none of the Variscan complexity that we find in west Somerset. One problem was to decide how far the fine detail of the stratigraphy should be shown: do we divide up the Upper Greensand Formation into Foxmould and Chert Beds, or more modern equivalents; was it necessary to show various divisions of the Lower Lias clays as we see them in the cliffs at Charmouth?
A second problem was nomenclature: the British Geological Survey (BGS) Lexicon of Named Rock Units provides BGS definitions of terms that appear on their maps and publications; it revised wholesale the names of formations and members. It was an attempt to bring order into the haphazard terminology that had accumulated over the last 200 years. All very commendable except that well-used names were dumped (e.g. The Yeovil Sands Formation for shame). The Somerset Geology Group is finding problems in advising on which old or new name to use for building stones for the revised Pevsner architectural guide to Somerset. Fortunately, the term ‘Upper Greensand Formation’ and ‘Blue Lias’ remain and are widely understood by the public. Ought we to have used the term ´Charmouth Mudstone Formation´ instead of ‘Lower Lias clays’? Do we include the term ’formation’?
We decided that traditional semi-descriptive terms were most suitable especially as they include the words ‘sand’ ‘clay´, and ‘red marl’. After all we are trying to communicate with the interested public and not frighten them.
The upper photo shows the classic topography: plateau, convex upper slope, linear middle slope, concave lower slope and the vale. For technical reasons it was not possible to show the slip plane of the landslide. The topography is clearly related to the underlying geology: the Greensand makes a resistant capping to the escarpment thus preserving the eye-catching Blackdown Plateau and the Tertiary Clay-with flints and pebble beds that rest on that surface. The pebble beds are shown on the side panel; they are not distinguished on the recently revised BGS Wellington Sheet (2009) and this is a sore point! (Prudden, 2002, 2011 in press, Waters, 1960). They overlie the Clay-with-flints and represent an early Tertiary marine event. They are exposed in ditch sections at Staple Hill. The thicknesses of the pebble beds and the soil have had to be exaggerated on the sculpture. The Lower Lias clays crop out below the Greensand and underlie the clay vale seen in the distance.
The lower photo shows the face of the block. A symbolic landslip is shown. Water percolating through the Greensand emerges where the Greensand rests on impermeable clays; a spring line is shown by a metal strip. These landslides are some of the most extensive in Britain and ring the Blackdown Hills. They are not active today unless loaded or undercut as when the M5 was built; they must date to an environment in the past when melting permafrost resulted in instability. Freborough et al., (2005) point out that many of these landslides tend to have a linear rather than crescent-shaped backscar. Marshy grassland and forest are shown below the spring line.
The sculpture was assembled on the spot from components made in a workshop. The timber was sourced from a fallen oak tree from Neroche Forest. It will be allowed to weather naturally. It is hollow underneath - hedgehogs please note. The sculpture was formed from modules created in a workshop and the components bolted together on site. The sculpture was designed and made by Robert Jakes, sculptor and woodcarver.
Neroche Forest is a Landscape Partnership Scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a range of local organisations. Led by the Forestry Commission and working closely with the local community, the Scheme is working to protect and celebrate the heritage of the area, and to provide opportunities for quiet enjoyment, education and training in countryside skills. Neroche Forest is part of the Blackdown Area of Outstanding Beauty. The scheme involving a wooden sculpture was developed by the local stakeholders group.
Visitors may also care to explore via public footpaths the area 2.5km to the east below the site of the Norman Castle Neroche [ST 272 159]. There is a splendid backscar and pressure ridges at the toe of the landslide.
The coast between Charmouth and Lyme Regis shows what Staple Hill would have looked like during periglacial conditions when the landslides were active. Visitors to the coast can clearly distinguish the same rock formations as at Staple Hill and admire the seepages at the base of the Greensand and the active landslides and mudflows. One difference is that the landslides at Charmouth are the result of waves undercutting the cliff.
The Somerset Geology Group was pleased to cooperate in the project as one of its aims is to promote an awareness and understanding of the Somerset’s outstanding geodiversity.

Friday, 12 November 2010

19th November - The Geology of the Moon

Speaker: Peter Cadogan
Peter Cadogan, spent five years as a postgraduate student trying to date the moon rocks brought back by the Apollo crews. (Presumably that means we have to add 5 years to the figures he came up with.) On the face of it, the geology of a completely dead, arid, grey lump of rock might appear less than engaging. But far from it ! The variety of rock samples and the story that is contained within their make-up and structure is a fascinating and dynamic one. It provides some insight into the origins of the moon, its violent past and relationship to the earth. And yet as fast as one mystery is solved, more as-yet unanswered questions emerge. Certainly the geology of the moon as a topic is very much alive.
This is a Bristol Astronomical Society Meeting. It is held in the Lower School Hall of Bristol Grammar School, off the top of University Road. The Lower School Hall is in the building on your Right as you enter the car park (free parking). If you wish, you can enter via Elton Road, in which case the LSH on on your Left. The room is upstairs and is entered by following signs to 'Toilets'! but take the first door on your Right and go up the stairs. Please be early as the door is entry-controlled and we cannot reveal the code. Any BAS member will let you in. Entry is free for first-time visitors - others are expected to pay £2. The meeting will begin at 7:15 sharp.
Details provided by Bristol Naturalists' Society from which further details can be obtained.

17th November - BRLSI Geology Collection & Ilminster Project

Speaker: Matt Williams - Curator of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute Museum, 7:30pm
Matt Williams will give us insights into the collections of the BRLSI, Charles Moore (the principal collector of the palaeontological collection) and the JESBI (Jurassic Ecosystem of Strawberry Bank Ilminster) project which launched in March. In this exciting project, over 230 perfectly preserved fossils, excavated from a quarry at Strawberry Bank by Charles Moore in the 1840s, are set to be examined for the first time as part of the Jurassic Ecosystem.
This talk will now take place in the G8 Lab, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, BS8 1RJ. Contact Bristol Naturalists' Society for further details.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Scale of the Universe

Click here to view these amazing images showing the scale of the Universe. Move the blue block at the bottom of the screen to the right for impossibly large and to the left for impossibly small. The image above is showing the ´galaxy´ scale.
This is produced by Cary and Michael Huang.

9th November - Mineral Resources, Peru

The Western Regional Group would like to invite you to the Geological Society evening lecture on Tuesday 9th November 2010, ‘Challenges in Investigating Mineral Resources at La Granja Copper Project, Peru’, presented by Mark Howson, a Principal Advisor with Rio Tinto’s Technology and Innovation Department.
The talk will focus on Rio Tinto’s Pre-Feasibility Study of what is probably the largest known unexploited copper deposit in South America, including the range of techniques used in the exploration, and the environmental and social impacts.
The lecture will start at 6.30pm, but please feel free to come and have a few sandwiches and a chat with colleagues from 6.00pm. There is no charge for the event and non members are welcome.
The lecture will be 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. For directions see http://www.gly.bris.ac.uk/about/directions.html

Monday, 1 November 2010

Amazing Landscapes - November 4th

On November 4th, Dr Chris Wood from Bournemouth University will be talking about ´The Danxia (red beds) Landscapes of SE China: Defining a New World Landscape Type´.
It might be thought that there is little more to be discovered about the major types of physical
landscapes of the world, but recent work by the author, in association with Chinese and international colleagues, has drawn attention to the remarkable red beds landscapes of SE China and advocated in future all such landscapes in the world be known as ‘Danxia’. Red beds is a term signifying rocks made up of red-coloured sediments laid down in a terrestrial (continental) environment. These types of beds form such iconic places as Ayers Rock in Australia, Monument Valley in the USA, Meteora in Greece, and Petra in Jordan. The term 'Danxia' to describe red bed landscapes was first used by Chinese scholars more than 80 years ago. The name is taken from Danxiashan (Danxia Mountain), which serves as the type locality in China. China has more than 780 Danxia sites scattered across the country, although the best are in the SE provinces, developed in a very active tectonic environment and under a warm, humid, sub-monsoonal climate. The spectacular Chinese red beds landscapes have remained unknown to world geoscientists until now. This lecture describes the geology and geomorphology of the Chinese Danxia and comparisons with other red beds landscapes worldwide.
This talk is organised by the Bath Geological Society and will be held at BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath at 7.30p.m. Everyone is welcome - visitors £4 - free refreshments.

Natural Environment of England

The Government has invited the public to have their say on what they value in terms of the natural environment of England, in preparation for a White Paper (precursor to legislation) on the natural environment being published in Spring next year. This White Paper will shape government policy and thinking on the natural environment for the next 20 years and it is therefore crucial that we take this opportunity to ensure that Earth heritage is part of the document. Please fill in this very quick survey being done by Defra. There are only four questions and it should only take five minutes or so, but those five minutes could make the difference with respect to helping us build firm foundations for geological conservation for the next 20 years. Please follow this link to fill out the questionnaire.