Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bluestones of Stonehenge

In February of this year, Dr Bevins from the National Museum of Wales gave a WEGA lecture on the 'Provenance of the Bluestones of Stonehenge'. In the talk Richard described how, by using petrographic and geochemical analysis, he had pinpointed the most likely source of some of the bluestones as being at Pont Saeson on the edge of the Preseli Mountains. This work has now been published, and a report headed 'Bluestones glacier Theory frozen out' appeared in The Times on Saturday 17 December.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

More on the Mendip volcano

You may like to read two geologists' replies to the scare story that fracking may cause an eruption of the Mendip Hills volcano.
Click here to read the first and here to read the second.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wootton Bassett geology and fossils

Reminder to those who are new to the blog - there is a display of Wootton Bassett fossils in the public library of the town and there are geology display boards in the Museum. Sometimes the latter are hidden behind a projector screen, which the Museum staff will move for visitors.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Earth Heritage Magazine

There is a free online version of Earth Heritage, the geological and landscape conservation magazine.
You can now view and download the new issue of Earth Heritage, number 36 as well as being able to access past editions.
This is thoroughly recommended.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Subduction of undersea mountains

Amazing new images from the depths of the Pacific Ocean reveal one of Earth's most violent processes: the destruction of massive underwater mountains. They expose how tectonic action is dragging giant volcanoes into the ocean trench. The volcanoes are strung across several thousand kilometres of ocean floor and are moving westward on the Pacific tectonic plate at up to 6cm per year.
The extraordinary scene was captured along the Tonga Trench during a research expedition last summer. The trench is a highly active fault line running north from New Zealand towards Tonga and Samoa.

Horned dinosaur in the vaults

A new species of horned dinosaur known as Spinops sternbergorum has been discovered in the vaults of the Natural History Museum.
Read more

Sunday, 11 December 2011

New Bore Hole, Hot Bath Street, Bath

Wessex Water is drilling a new borehole into the thermal aquifer beneath the City of Bath. This is to provide a new supply of thermal water for the proposed Gainsborough Natural Thermae spa and hotel development. It will also supplement the supply of thermal water from other existing boreholes and help to safeguard the important spa facilities in Bath for the future.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Urgent request for a Treasurer

Wiltshire Geology Group needs a Treasurer urgently.  It is one of the three key voluntary positions vital to our survival (as per our constitution)!
The job of Treasurer is to monitor the finances of the WGG, in liaison with the Secretary and Project Officer/manager.
Please contact Isobel Geddes for further information.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Two 1-day Indoor Courses - March 3rd & 4th 2012

Dr Nick Chidlaw is currently offering two 1-day courses on the same weekend in Thornbury next March, describing locations he has run field trips to in the past. These courses may be particularly interesting to those who are not able to visit these field areas, e.g. because of work/family commitments, or health problems. You can enrol on either, or both, courses.
Each course comprises powerpoint-based lectures, together with
examination of hand specimens of relevant mineral and rock types, and published geological maps of the field areas.    
Saturday 3rd March 10.00 am - 5.00 pm
This course defines tectonic terranes and looks at evidence for where two meet along the Highland Boundary Fault. We will follow the Fault between the Isle of Bute and Stonehaven, looking at the character of the two terranes, the nature of the boundary between them, evidence for when they were separated, and when they finally became joined.
Sunday 4th March. 10.00 am - 5.00 pm
The relatively inaccessible islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm are located between Weston Super Mare and Cardiff. Composed of locally highly-deformed Carboniferous Limestone, and veined on Steep Holm with galena and baryte, exposures are widespread. The bedrock geology underlying the adjacent Bristol Channel will be described, indicating that the islands were once hills in a Triassic desert, and lay astride a deep ravine containing the River Severn 10,000 years ago.
Final deadline for receipt of tuition fees for both courses is 4th February.
For further details and to enrol, contact Nick Chidlaw

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Geological Society blog

Some of you may like to follow general geological news on this blog.

New Canary Island emerges from the sea

An undersea volcano erupting just south of Spain's Canary Islands may be the beginnings of a new island, or an extension to an existing one. For more than a month, the underwater volcano has been erupting three miles to the south of El Hierro, the smallest of the seven Canary Islands, about 50km (30 miles) south-west of its nearest neighbour, La Gomera, and 100km (60 miles) from the most populous of the islands - Tenerife. From about 60m below the sea, the so-called "submarine" volcano is spewing gases and burning lava, some of which is breaking the surface of the water.
Read more

December 13th - Jurassic Coast

Tuesday December 13 is the tenth anniversary of the Jurassic Coast being designated a World Heritage Site. Lyme Regis Museum marks the day, not only by opening free of charge but offering a free guided fossil walk to the first 30 who make a booking for that date. Museum director Mary Godwin said, ‘Lyme Regis Museum is at the heart of the Jurassic Coast and we feel a special affinity with it and the early scientists who hunted fossils here. Our museum building itself is on the site of Mary Anning’s birthplace. We hope everyone will come and see the magnificent Jurassic Coast fossils on display, and share some birthday cake!’

iGeology and William Smith

The recently released version 2 of iGeology includes a reproduction of the William Smith 1815 map. There is a 'fade-in' slider that allows you to change the transparency so you can compare William Smith's map with the BGS map. There is a brief biography of W. Smith and some other new features. These include improved descriptions of the units which include an indication of geological age (in million years) and period and the prevailing environment (which is based the Climate Through Time poster, though it doesn't actually say so in the app).

Monday, 5 December 2011

Iain Stewart - tomorrow

Prof Iain Stewart's talk on 'Seismic Faults and Sacred Sancturies' (Horstmann Lecture) will take place on 6th December at 19:30 in the school hall at Chew Valley School (BS40 8QB).
Note the school has a one-way access with the entrance by the B3114. Ample parking is available some 25 m on the left from the entrance. The entrance to the school hall is reached by following the path straight along from the entrance road, between the two buildings at the top right of school site.
The school hall has to be vacated by 21:00, so the normal post-talk wine and cheese will instead be available (for standard £1) prior to the meeting from 19:00.
Further details on the WEGA website

Sunday, 4 December 2011

January 7th - Chalk and Literature

Chalk and literature – Watership Down and the chalk ridge
A circular walk of about 2-3 miles to blow away the cobwebs after Christmas and New Year. A walk along the chalk escarpment. Includes art and music as well as literature! Part of the NWD AONB Chalk Links programme.
Good paths on mainly open access land.
Meeting point - car park on White Hill (B3051) SU516565
All welcome, no need to book, although if you have your own information about how the chalk has influenced the arts it would be good if you join in and tell us about it.
(Image from Watership Down Fan Club website)

Iceland Volcanic eruption - global impact?

Hundreds of metres under one of Iceland's largest glaciers there are signs of a looming volcanic eruption that could be one of the most powerful the country has seen in almost a century.
Mighty Katla, with its 10km (6.2 mile) crater, has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland's east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Click here for more information.

Monday, 28 November 2011

This Thursday - World Heritage Volcanoes: the best of the best?

'World Heritage Volcanoes: the best of the best?' This talk will be given by Dr. Chris Wood.
Click here and follow the links for further details.
1st December, 7.30 p.m. BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath
Everyone is welcome to attend - £4 for visitors - free refreshments

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Scottish Guides

National Museums Scotland co-publish with Edinburgh Geological Society, three geological excursion guides to :
- Rum
- The Moine
- The north-west Highlands.
These are available until the end of January post-free.
Details on the website.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Earthquake activity around Santorini

Seismic activity beneath Santorini volcano continues to be slightly above normal levels. Beginning since July this year, there is elevated activity in a SW-NE trending zone passing through Nea Kameni and the submarine Kolumbos volcano NE of Santorini. The alignment (also known as the Kameni and Kolumbus lines) is a c. 2 km wide zone parallel to a tectonic horst and graben structure of the crystalline basement of the area. Most of the known volcanic vents of Santorini during the past 2 million years were located on this alignment, more precisely either on its southern boundary (Kameni line) or on its northern boundary (Kolumbus line). Lacking other data sources, the information visible on the location and number of earthquakes is too weak, other than to vaguely speculate that the current earthquake activity around Santorini could be a precursor to new activity from this volcano. Santorini's last eruption was in 1950.
Read more here.

Friday, 11 November 2011

New Canary Island off EL Hierro - the continuing story - -

A brand new Canary island is emerging from the sea as an underwater volcano bubbles to the surface. Magma off the Canary Island of El Hierro has been spewing 20 metres high as the sea boils with a smell of sulphur. As it grows and gets closer to the surface, more and more debris such as stones start to shoot out of the volcano which, until now, has only shown its explosive power below the surface. It is now just 70 metres from the surface and islanders are already trying to come up with a name for the new island. It is quite close to El Hierro and if it continues to erupt it could eventually meet up with the mainland.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Smallest arthropod ever seen

An X-ray scan of Baltic amber at the University of Manchester has revealed what scientists have said is the "smallest arthropod fossil ever". The 50 million-year-old mite, which was found on a fossilised spider, is just 170 millionths of a metre long.
Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Volcanoes and Vineyards - November 10th

'From Volcanoes to Vineyards: how lava flows shape the landscape', talk by Professor Katharine V. Cashman of the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Colloquium and School of Earth Sciences' Whittard Memorial Lecture
10th November 4.00 pm
Chemistry Lecture Theatre 2
Click here for further details.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Fossil preparation & Bristol University's collection - 23rd November

This talk will be given on 23rd November for Bristol NATs by Remmert Schouten, Fossil Preparator, Bristol University
The talk will include an insight into fossil preparation and the University's geology collection (currently being re-organised).
S H Reynolds lecture theatre, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, BS8 1RJ. Further details on the website
Everyone welcome.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

27th November - Hornton & Edgehill Villages, North Oxfordshire

Sunday 27th November - Guided Geology & Landscape Walk around Hornton & Edgehill Villages, N Oxon. Incorporating a visit to Starveall Barn Quarry which is a local geology site on the Oxon/Warwicks boundary. Led by Lesley Dunlop of the Oxfordshire Geology Trust.
From 10:30am. This is a circular walk of about 4.5 miles with some stiles, some rough ground and one short section of road walking. Please wear suitable clothing & footwear for the weather on the day. You may wish to bring drinks & a snack.
Meeting place & directions: Travelling north from Banbury, turn right off the A422 down a minor road signposted Hornton & Horley. Our meeting place is approx 1/4 mile down this road at GR SP 378458. Please park on the hard standing on the left hand side of the road opposite Varney's Garage.
No booking required.

El Hierro, Canaries - update

On October 9th an underwater volcano started to emerge in waters off El Hierro Island in the Canaries, Spain. Researchers of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography only needed 15 days to map its formation in high resolution.The situation at the end of October can be seen in the lower image above.
And now the volcano has broken the surface water. Click here for a short video clip.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Profs Brian Williams and Iain Stewart

WEGA - next Tuesday evening, 8th November
'Rivers, rocks reservoirs and oil'
Prof Brian Williams (Aberdeen University)
Wills Memorial Building, Park Street, Bristol , 7.30pm.
Also, December 6th, 'Seismic faults and sacred sanctuaries',
Prof. Iain Stewart (Plymouth University)
Chew Valley School Hall, Chew Magna, Bristol BS40 8QB
Everyone welcome - check WEGA website for further details

8th November - Tracking Gondwanan ice sheets

This has changed - please view the latest post (above).
WEGA - next Tuesday evening, 8th November
Tracking Gondwanan Ice sheets using sedimentology and zircon dating - Oman and Australia
Prof Brian Williams (Aberdeen University)
Everyone welcome - Wills Memorial Building, Park Street, Bristol , 7.30pm.

More on Fracking

As regards 'fracking' (horrible cheap'n'cheerful American/Australian tag), have we not been here before, all through the centuries?  Coal, salt, gas, oil, even (in South Africa) ground de-watering to facilitate diamond mining - wherever a volume of material, and hence mechanical support, is removed from the Earth's crust and nothing put back to replace it, there is bound to be subsequent compaction/collapse, often at considerable distance and time from the event.  This technique, if unwisely applied in the West Somerset oilshale area (I assume this is the connection in the post of 3rd November), would undoubtedly affect the hydrology of the Lias basin where it abuts the fault planes of the Palaeozoic massifs and cause movement long term - not a great idea in the vicinity of Hinkley Point!  The rocks here are heavily fractured and folded already.
To illustrate the point, the photo above shows an unsuspected flexure recently discovered in the Charmouth Mudstone at Bishops Cleeve. This is due to valley bulging at the foot of the Cotswold scarp and just poised to go walkabout.  I think the human race really is going to have to start being very careful at this stage.
Victorian minemasters were very adept at simply ignoring the environmental consequences of their actions - vide the 1000 acre sulphuric acid swamp on Parys Mountain due to the uncontrolled tipping of copper mining waste nearly 200 years ago, and the terraces of cottages which still lie buried under the colliery batch at Dunkerton.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

All about Fracking - recently in the news

There are few technologies quite so popularly disliked today as fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, the practice of pumping high-pressure water into natural gas reserves deep underground to break up the rock and make the gas easier to mine.
Read some common sense and reality

Fossil eyes show wrap-around three-dimensional vision, half a billion years ago

Each of our eyes sees a slightly different view of the world, and our brain combines these signals into a single three-dimensional image. But this only works in one direction, because our eyes face straight ahead and their respective fields of vision only overlap in a narrow zone. But there was once a creature that had binocular vision in a massive arc around its body, not just in front but to the sides as well. It’s called Henningsmoenicaris scutula and it lived around half a billion years ago.
Click here to read more.

Geological outcrops worldwide

Outcropedia is a database of all the important and beautiful geological outcrops in the world. Have you got something to add?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fossils from Wootton Bassett

Richard has sent these photos of fossils found at Brynards hill, Wootton Bassett, recently.  He says that the fauna is all from the Bailei Zone, Inconstans Bed and Cementstone Bed, basal Kimmeridgian stage.
- Pictonia sp ammonite shown before and after separation from host rock,
- two Bathrotomaria,
- two Torquirhynchia inconstans.
He also found a 22-Kg Nautiloid, the same size and weight as one he found about 20 years ago nearby.
The fossils were dug up during drainage works. Unfortunately the digger driver backfilled it all two days later, and then rolled it all firmly beneath a skin of clay.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Secret Life of Ice

This image is taken from a short video clip from the 'Secret Like of Ice'
Click here to watch the programme.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Oct 29th - Landscape features near the Warminster Fault

Saturday October 29th - Landscape features of the Gault and Upper Greensand in the vicinity of the Warminster Fault led by Isabel Buckingham, Bath Geological Society
This area shows a simple correlation between the geology, landscape and land use, and in some, but not other places, the fault has resulted in clearly marked landforms. In the afternoon we’ll drive to the Cley Hill area, then Corsley.
Meet at the Horse and Groom Pub, East Woodlands at 10.00 a.m. ST792442. This is best approached from the Frome ring road. This pub serves excellent food, real ale and cider. Parking is limited so car sharing will be appreciated. Boots are advisable. We’ll be on paths at all times. It may be wet underfoot in places. The walking in the morning will be on permissive paths in the Longleat Estate.
Everyone is welcome - free for members of Bath GS, WGG, WEGA, Bristol NATs -  £2 for visitors

Friday, 21 October 2011

El Hierro Eruption

The eruption off the southern coast of El Hierro in the Canary Islands looks to be subsiding and from the sound of it, the focus of the activity is slowly migrating into shallower water. However, so far all the activity has remained submarine, producing an impressive discoloration of the ocean as tephra and volcanic gases are released from the vents.
Read more.


Archaeopteryx is one of the world's most iconic prehistoric animals - a dinosaur caught in the midst of evolving into a bird, some 155 million years ago. Click here to read more.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Evolution of Jaws - 26th October

Wednesday 26 October 7:30 - What can engineering and physics tell us about the evolution of Jaws? - Dr. Emily Rayfield, Bristol University organised by the Geology section of Bristol NATs.
Dr. Rayfield is Senior Lecturer in palaeobiology.  Her research focuses on how skeletal mechanics influences morphological evolution and the relationship between form and function in hard tissues - primarily, but not exclusively, the vertebrate skull.
She is interested in how Finite Element Analysis can inform on functional behaviour in individual taxa and elucidate functional ecology and morphological changes across evolutionary transitions such as the origin of birds and mammals.
The talk takes place in S H Reynolds lecture theatre, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Do you know about this amazing mine?

Fossil Hunting Walks from Lyme Regis Museum

Sunday 23rd October - Lyme Regis Museum, 2.30 p.m. - a talk by the museum's geologist Paddy Howe and marine biologist Chris Andrew with recently discovered fossils on display. Ask questions, handle fossils and bring your finds along for identification.

Find your own 190-million-year-old fossil on the beach with museum geologist Paddy Howe and marine biologist Chris Andrew.
Walks take around 3 hours:-
Thursday 13 October 11:15
Friday 14 October 11:45
Saturday 15 October 12:15
Sunday 16 October 12:30
Monday 17 October 13:00
Tuesday 25 October 09:00
Thursday 27 October 10:45
Friday 28 October 2011 11:30
Saturday 29 October 12:15
Sunday 30 October 12:00
Monday 31 October 12:30
Tuesday 1 November 13:15
Thursday 10 November 09:15
Friday 11 November 09:45
Saturday 12 November 10:15
Sunday 13 November 10:45
Monday 14 November 11:15
Tuesday 15 November 12:00
Friday 25 November 09:15
Saturday 26 November 10:15
Sunday 27 November 11:00
Monday 28 November 11:45
Tuesday 29 November 12:30
Friday 9 December 09:00
Saturday 10 December 09:15
Sunday 11 December 10:00
Monday 12 December 10:30
Tuesday 13 December 11:15
Thursday 15 December 12:30
Friday 16 December 13:15
Tuesday 27 December 11:30
Wednesday 28 December 12:00

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Book recommendation - 'Written in Stone'

A reader has recommended 'Written in Stone; the hidden secrets of fossils and the story of life on Earth' by Brian Switek 
This book gives the first popular account of the remarkable discovery of these fossils and how they have changed our perspective of the tree of life. Only now, with the marriage of palaeontology with genetics and embryology, can such a comprehensive story be given. One hundred and fifty years after the publication of Darwin’s 'Origin', scientists are finally beginning to understand how whales walked into the sea, how horses stood up on their tip-toes, how feathered dinosaurs took to the air and how our own ancestors came down from the trees. As this book shows, there is much still to discover and debates will continue, but this is truly a golden age for those looking to reconstruct the past.

Landslide in Cornwall

Geologist, Richard Hocking. filmed this massive cliff fall in Cornwall - click here to view video and read more. Thousands of tonnes of rock fell into the sea at North Cliffs near Hayle two weeks ago - just days after part of the coastal footpath was diverted.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Killerton House, Devon

One of our local geologists has sent the following:- " . . . . at Killerton House, Devon, where the building blocks are of fine black basalt, and the browner or purplish vesicular varieties are built into the gateway of the entrance yard. These are known as minette. They came from a localised outcrop on the estate, and have been dated as 290 MA - the Carboniferous-Permian boundary. What was new to me is a booklet on the local geology, available from the NT bookshop there:-  'Killerton - The Rocks Beneath. A Short Guide to the Geology' by Dr Richard Edwards, the Cullompton Press 2004 £1.99. The 15 good illustrations are in colour and show rock-types and buildings, as well as a sketch map and section."

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Oxfordshire's Contribution to Geology - October 20th

Please don't forget our chairman's talk on "Oxfordshire's Contribution to Geology" taking place on 20th October at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road at 7:30pm. 
The Oxford Geology Group has kindly invited our members to attend for a small charge of £2 per person. Not only will this lecture be fascinating, but this is also a rare chance to visit this impressive Department building opened in September 2010, with its dynamic narrative wall along the east side illustrating the Jurassic rock strata found in Oxfordshire.

East Knoyle: geology, landscapes and building stones walk

Saturday 15th October 2.00pm (finishing 4.30 - 5.00pm)
Isobel Geddes will lead a 2-3 mile walk around East Knoyle for the Cranborne Chase & North Wessex Downs AONB & Wiltshire Geology Group looking at Greensand and Chalk geology and how it affects the landscape and local buildings.
Meet at Windmill Hill on the road by the viewpoint west of the old windmill GR ST 872 311 (lay-by near the viewpoint)
Cost: £1.50 for Wiltshire Geology Group members (and for associated groups), £3 for non-members, payable on arrival.
Terrain: hilly, but on public footpaths - wear suitable walking shoes (maybe wet/muddy) - waterproofs required. Dogs welcome (on a lead)
Length of walk: 2-3 miles taking approximately 2.5 - 3 hours
Booking essential: Tel. 01380 871008 or email.

Monday, 3 October 2011

October 6th - isotopes reveal origin of people and their food

'Feeding Stonehenge: what isotopes can reveal about the origin of people and their food' - talk by Professor Jane Evans, Head of Science-based Archaeology, NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory
Thursday October 6th.
The strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of tooth enamel provides information on the origin of individuals and their livestock. This talk will describe the application of isotopes to burials in the Stonehenge area and look at the way in which we can assess sources of food for eating/feasting at Stonehenge.
Jane Evans is an isotope geologist by training and specialized in rocks that had been altered during low-temperature burial events.
7.30 at BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath
Everyone is welcome: visitors £4 - - students £2.
Free refreshments at the end of the talk

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Do you know about Geostudies? It has been in existence since 1996, and has been delivering classroom and field based geological courses up to the present. In an environment, over the past twenty years, of shrinking academic educational/recreational opportunities for adult students, it has been a vehicle for their delivery, particularly in the Stroud and Gloucester areas. Geostudies is run by Dave Green, a self-confessed geological enthusiast, who simply likes to pass it on!
Lots of courses are available with full details on the website.
Dave writes, "We are short of a couple of people on an evening course which started last week on Volcanoes, held at the Chantry Centre, Thornbury, which promises to encourage lively debate, if last week’s session is anything to go by!
If you want to join this course or any other - contact Dave

Wick Quarry and Golden Valley - October 1st

In the morning we shall visit Wick quarry and will be looking at the Carboniferous: Gully Oolite, Clifton Down mudstone and limestone, Hotwells Limestone, folds, faults, mineralisation, igneous intrusion, fossils (corals, brachiopods).
In the afternoon we plan to walk around the area - Golden Valley, exploring the red ochre works.
Further details from our field secretary - Bath GS website
Meet at 9·45 a.m. in the car park, Wick Quarry, (ST 710732) for a 10·00 a.m. start. Strong footwear essential. Hard hats and reflective clothing will be supplied if you do not have your own.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Field Geology and Opencast Mining of Coal, South Wales

This field trip, to be led by Dr. Nicholas Chidlaw, takes place on two consecutive weekends:
Saturday 15th, Sunday 16th, 
Saturday 22nd, Sunday 23rd October 2011
Click HERE for details and enrolment.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Hair pins down Aboriginal origins

A lock of hair has helped scientists to piece together the genome of Australian Aborigines and rewrite the history of human dispersal around the world. DNA from the hair demonstrates that indigenous Aboriginal Australians were the first to separate from other modern humans, around 70,000 years ago. This challenges current theories of a single phase of dispersal from Africa.
While the Aboriginal populations were trailblazing across Asia and into Australia, the remaining humans stayed around North Africa and the Middle East until 24,000 years ago.
Only then did they spread out and colonise Europe and Asia, but the indigenous Aborigines had been established in Australia for 25,000 years. Australian Aborigines therefore have a longer claim to the land in which they now live than any other population known.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Mary Anning Day - September 24th

Lyme Regis Museum celebrates Mary Anning Day on Saturday September 24 with a programme of activities and talks that continues into the evening when Tracy Chevalier, author of Remarkable Creatures and Girl with a Pearl Earring talks about the discovery of Mary Anning’s first ichthyosaur 200 years ago.
The museum is open free all day - where you can look Mary's first ichthyosaur in the eye! (it's on loan to us from the Natural History Museum in London).
Tickets for the talks (being held in the Marine Theatre) are available at Lyme's tourist information centre 01297 442138

Rock Edge Quarry, Headington, Oxford - 24th September

Practical Clearance Session at Rock Edge Quarry, Headington, Oxford
Rock Edge Quarry is a geological SSSI & is a remnant of the limestone quarries formerly extensively worked throughout the Headington area. The rocks exposed here are of Upper Jurassic age and are part of the Corallian Formation. Sediments include patch reefs of the Coral Rag transitioning laterally into the Headington Hardstone.
This event is being supported by the Oxford City Council with funding from the Heritage Lottery.
September 24th - from 10am to 12:30pm.
GR SP 550 064. Situated at the crossroads between Windmill Road & Rock Edge Road. We will be permitted to park up on the grass verge, as there is restricted street parking for permit holders only.
We will provide tools, safety equipment & refreshments. Please bring extra drinks and snacks.
Pre-booking is essential. Please contact Denise Dane by email to book your place.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Origins of Metallurgy in Eurasia - 13th October

Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society, Thursday 13th October, BRLSI, Queen Square, Bath at 7.30 p.m.
‘All that Glitters: the Origins of Metallurgy in Eurasia’. This talk will be given by Ben Roberts, British Museum Curator of European Bronze Age,
Before joining the Dept. of Prehistory and Europe, Ben worked for a number of years on archaeological projects in Britain, France and Central America.  Recently he had particular responsibilities for researching  and co-writing the first 40 programmes of the British Museum’s fascinating Radio 4 series ‘ A History of the World in 100 objects’. This lecture on the spread of Metallurgy from the Middle-East will address the question of when and where metal was first produced in Europe and Asia.
Everyone is welcome: visitors £4, members £2.
(Image: Gold Cape from Mold, North Wales - 1900-1600BC)

Feather evolution trapped in Canadian amber

Samples of 80 million-year-old amber in western Canada containing feathers from dinosaurs and birds have yielded the most complete story of feather evolution ever seen. Eleven fragments show the progression from hair-like "filaments" to doubly-branched feathers of modern birds. The find adds to the idea that many dinosaurs sported feathers - some brightly coloured.
Recent years have seen a proliferation of reports about the beginnings of feathers as we know them now in birds. So-called compression fossils found in China bear outlines of primitive "filament" feathers that are more akin to hair. But modern feathers are highly branched and structured, and the full story of how those came to be had not yet been revealed by the fossil record.
Now, a study of amber found near Grassy Lake in Alberta - dating from the Late Cretaceous period - has unearthed a full range of feather structures that demonstrates the progression.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Salisbury Cathedral building stones - 29th October

Steve Hannath, from the Wiltshire Geology Group, has kindly offered to give a presentation on 'The Cathedral Rocks - The Earth Materials used in the Construction of Salisbury Cathedral' on Saturday 29th October 2011. Agenda for the day:
- 1.30pm - meet in the cloister corner in the west corridor by the main visitor entrance to the Cathedral - to save time people should make their donation (requested voluntary donations Adults £5.50; Seniors/Students £4.50; Groups £4.50) at the desk before meeting up. People would, of course, be free to arrive in Salisbury at any time for the market/retail therapy and spend time looking at the Chapter house (Magna Carta)/lunch etc.
15 - 20 minutes guided tour to the Cathedral with a look at the main building materials. People would then be free to continue looking round on their own.
- 3.00pm - Make your way to Salisbury & South Wilts Museum (across the Close from the Cathedral about 200metres). There will be no charge for entering the museum but there is an expectation that people who wish to visit the general exhibits would pay the normal entry fee. There is a very nice cafe in the museum and also one in the Cathedral. You should make your way to the Lecture Hall for:
- 3.20pm - 4.30 - Lecture with questions at the end.
- 5.00pm Salisbury & South Wilts Museum closes.
Booking essential as numbers are limited to 20-25. Please contact Steve Hannath by email or on 01722 326714 by  20th October for further information, or if you would like to attend.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Dates for your Diary

* September 10th - Exploring Bradford on Avon with Isobel Geddes, Wiltshire Geology Group
See Bath GS website for details.
* September 17th - Guided Walk to De La Beche Site and Tedbury Camp with Vicki Griffiths
See Mendip Rocks for details.
*September 18th - Guided Walk at Uphill Quarry, near Weston-super-Mare, Chris Richards, North Somerset Council Ranger Service
See Mendip Rocks for details.
* September 19th - 'The Marlborough Mound and the other Giants of Wessex' talk by Jim Leary of English Heritage
See Wiltshire GG website for details.
* September 28th - Guided geology/archaeology gallery tour at Weston-super-Mare Museum, with Jane Hill, Weston-super-Mare Town Council
See Mendip Rocks for details.
* October 1st - Family Fun Day at Somerset Earth Science Centre with Christopher Hancock
See Mendip Rocks for details.
* October 6th - 'Feeding Stonehenge: what isotopes can reveal about the origin of people and their food' - talk by Professor Jane Evans
See Bath GS website for details.
* October 12th - Guided Walk around Black Rock/Long Wood Nature Reserve with Chris Richards
See Mendip Rocks for details.
* October 15th - East Knoyle: geology, landscapes and building stones with Isobel Geddes, Wiltshire Geology Group 
See Wiltshire GG website for details.

Friday, 26 August 2011

September 1st - Pleistocene Geology and Palaeolithic Archaeology

Professor Tony Brown and/or Dr. Laura Basell from the Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory of the University of Southampton will present the lecture 'New Research on the Pleistocene Geology and Palaeolithic Archaeology of SW England'.
The talk, hosted by the Bath Geological Society, will be held at the BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday September 1st.
Everyone is welcome - free to members - visitors £4.
Free refreshments at the end of the lecture.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

More on Etheldred Benett

A reader has sent the following information:-
"You might be interested to know that there is a copy of Etheldred Benett's book in Bristol City Museum's Geology Department. It was given by her to the Bristol Institution -in fact, she gave it twice as the first one went missing from the stagecoach from Warminster to Bristol! In the same year (1831) she gave the Institution a selection of fossils from around Warminster; the Museum may still have some of these, but they can't now be identified."

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Rare book - Etheldred Benett

Thought by many to be the first woman geologist, Etheldred Benett (1776-1845) was a keen collector of fossils, assembling in the years 1810-13, an extensive collection from a large range of sites within Wiltshire. Her publication 'Catalogue of the Organic Remains of the County of Wiltshire' with drawings by E.D. Smith, illustrates the vast number and extreme variety of fossils she discovered. The book is housed at The Geological Society in London.
If the life of Etheldred Benett interests you, then the book 'The Role of Women in the History of Geology' by Burek, C.V. and Higgs, B (eds) is recommended. It is Geological Society Special Publication 281 (2007).

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Safety kit and clothing

All geologists' safety kit and clothing (including steel toe boots) can be ordered from the websites of either Screwfix or UKGE.  The HSE recommend that plastic polymer hardhats should be replaced every fifth year (on British standard models; the date of manufacture is impressed under the peak).
This comment was sent as a result of the post about Field Geology in South Wales.

Tidy-up at Tedbury Camp

A small group of volunteers did some clearance work at Tedbury Camp yesterday. The before and after photos above show you part of the results on the dip section in the Carboniferous Limestone on the east side. Work continues today. This site is definitely worth a visit.
The best parking spot is at Fordbury Bottom (ST 749.492) near Little Elm, west of Frome. For more details see the website.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Field Geology and Opencast Mining of Coal, South Wales

Two consecutive weekends: 
Saturday 15th, Sunday 16th, 
Saturday 22nd, Sunday 23rd October 2011
led by Dr. Nicholas Chidlaw

 Key locations include Celtic Energy opencasts East Pit (near Brynamman) on 1st weekend, and Selar (near Hirwaun, N end of Neath Valley) on 2nd weekend.  A full day in each opencast site is arranged if the course runs. The other 2 days of the course will be located at natural exposures (river sections, cliffs) / cuttings and disused quarry sections.
For further information see website All enrolments are via the University of Cardiff.
Note: this course is accredited, involving attendees agreeing to take an assessment (not onerous!) of their learning.

Highlights of the course include:
-Appreciation of the Late Carboniferous Coal Measures strata from base to top: South Wales Coal Measures Group, and overlying Warwickshire Group (Pennant Sandstone Formation and Grovesend Formation).
- Appreciation of changing environments through time: equatorial freshwater deltas, lakes and peat mires with occasional marine influxes, through dominantly river channels, to 'red bed' lake deposition under a drier climate;
- Coal seams (anthracite and semi-anthracite) up to c. 2m thick;
- Very extensive exposures (opencasts) not otherwise available in the area, of coal-bearing strata and their deformation developed at the end of the Carboniferous period (Variscan Orogeny);
- Overview of modern coal mining on a national and local level;
- Opencasting: a key economic method of coal extraction in UK today. Scale of operations, technology used, transportation, processing, markets, associated social and environmental issues, site restoration and aftercare, future, will also be discussed.  
Note: everyone will need - hard hat (can be borrowed), High Vis waistcoat/jacket, safety glasses, steel toe-capped boots/wellingtons.  The High Vis and safety glasses can be bought cheaply in DIY stores. Safety boots can also be bought at the latter. Ideally, you will have such boots already or can borrow them. If buying a pair, they would be a useful investment for any future field trips and courses you attend. 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Geoconservation for science and society

The Geologists' Association Conference, 'Geoconservation for science and society: an agenda for the 21st Century' is now only a month away.  In the current economic climate and with the geological community arguing that geoconservation is an important and worthwhile activity that people care about and which government should support, it is an important time to be seen to be supporting geoconservation ourselves.
We have extended the deadline for registration to August 31st; it would be helpful if you are wishing to attend, that you register as soon as possible.   We now have the facility to take payments over the phone - 020 7434 9298.  

New Bath map available now

Sheet 265 Bath Bedrock and Superficial (flat and  folded) maps are now available from BGS. They are £12 each

Friday, 5 August 2011

Bath GS - Change of lecture programme

Please note that the Bath Geological Society lecture programme has changed. The previously advertised September lecture will now be given in November and vice versa.
In September Professor Tony Brown and Dr. Laura Basel, University of Southampton will talk about 'New Research on the Pleistocene Geology and Palaeolithic Archaeology of SW England'.

The SW of England is sometimes seen as at the ‘edge of the edge of’ the Palaeolithic world. However, work over the last ten years has increasingly shown this not to be the case. Apart from the well known sites such as Kent’s Cavern and the Mendip caves, open air sites along the river valleys of SW England have, and continue, to produce evidence of a long human record of occupation despite a much lower level of sand and gravel extraction than in SE England, the Midlands or East Anglia. This talk will describe this record with an emphasis on current work in the River Axe in Dorset, along with new techniques which are improving both our recording and dating of these geoarchaeological sites.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Some interesting websites

Ask a Geologist
Ever wondered why so many of the southern continents point south?  Dug up something odd in the garden? Ever thought that acid rain might be speeding up erosion? What is the oldest thing in the world? Can a crystal cure your bunion?
If questions like this keep buzzing around in your head, "Ask a Geologist" could be just the service for you.

Virtual microscopes at the Open University - there are many thin sections available to view shown in PPL (plane polarised light) and XPL (crossed polars). The image above shows a garnet mica schist in XPL.

Earth Day Pictures - 20 stunning shots of Earth from space. The image shows Lake Natron in Tanzania, reputed to be the world's most caustic body of water, and yet the tilapia fish manage to survive.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

NW Highlands of Scotland - new book

A Geological Excursion Guide to the North-West Highlands of Scotland Edited by Kathryn M. Goodenough and Maarten Krabbendam, co-published with Edinburgh Geological Society.
The area covered largely corresponds to the North-west Geopark.The 16 excursions:
• Loch Assynt and the Achmore Duplex
• A Transect through the Canisp Shear Zone,
• Stoer Group at Stoer Peninsula
• Stoer Group at Enard Bay
• Ullapool River, Creag nam Broc and Glen Achall
• Knockan Crag and the Knocken Klippen
• Traligill and Bealach Traligill
• Conival and Ben More Assynt
• Glen Oykel and the Loch Ailsh Pluton
• Cam Loch, Ledmore and the Loch Borralan Pluton
• Glencoul
• Scourie Mor
• Tarbet
• Durness, Balnakeil Bay and Faraid Head
• The Moine Thrust Zone at Loch Eriboll
• Roadside Stops around the North-west Highlands
Advice is given on travel and accommodation.
£15.99 - available from website, bookshops or contact the publisher on 0131 247 4083. Bulk order/trade discounts available.
This is the companion volume to An Excursion Guide to the Moine Geology of the Northern Highlands of Scotland by Rob Strachan, Ian Alsop, and Suzanne Miller at £17.99, available as above, as is A Geological Excursion Guide to Rum by C H Emeleus and V R Troll at £12.99.
Those of you with young geologists in mind may be interested in Scottish Rocks and Fossils by Alan and Moira McKirdy, aimed at 7-11 year-olds at £5.99.

Pregnant lizard - 120 million years old

A 120-million-year-old fossil is the oldest pregnant lizard ever discovered, according to scientists. The fossil, found in China, is a very complete 30cm (12in) lizard with more than a dozen embryos in its body. Researchers from University College London, who studied the fossil, say it was just days from giving birth when it died and was buried during the Cretaceous period. The fossil is especially interesting to scientists because it is a reptile that produced live young rather than laying eggs. Only 20% of living lizards and snakes produce live young, and this shows it is an ancient, if unusual, trait. The fossil comes from world famous rocks of the Jehol Group in north-eastern China, where the fine limestone there has been worn away to gradually reveal hundreds of exquisite specimens of dinosaurs, but also fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, plants and invertebrates. The mother lizard has been identified as a specimen of Yabeinosaurus, a large, slow-growing and relatively primitive lizard.
Click here for more details.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

BBC and new Geology programmes

In case you have not been checking up on TV listings lately - BBC1 at 9pm Tuesday 19th July and Tuesday 26th July
Richard Hammond (Top Gear) is off on a Journey to the Centre of the Planet this week and a Journey to the Bottom of the Ocean next week.

Mendip Rocks

Somerset Wildlife Trust has organised Mendip Rocks, an exciting series of geological events, trips and talks in Somerset over August and September, exploring the diverse geology of Somerset and it's relationships to Somerset's wildlife, habitats and historical buildings. 

New Bath geological map

Did you know that the new BGS 1:50,000 geological map of Bath (sheet 265, Bedrock and Superficial) is due to be published during the summer? The actual date will probably be announced on the website. The website is well worth investigating - lots of good info.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Reminder - South Devon Linear Walk

At the moment, there are not enough people interested in this trip (see previous post) to make it viable. Please note that the final date for the minimum number of enrolments is Sunday 24th July (2 weeks time).
Please let Nick Chidlaw, know if you are interested in attending by that date.
Also note that Nick's trips are always very well planned and very enjoyable!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Linear Geological Walk: Dartmoor to Bolt Tail

Linear Geological Walk: Dartmoor to Bolt Tail to be led by Dr. Nicholas Chidlaw
- This is a privately-arranged trip and does not involve any other organizations (e.g. a University) – no question paper at the end!!
- Dates: Sunday 11th – Tuesday 13th September inclusive. Three-day format.
- Reason for these specific dates: on the 2nd day, we cross the River Erme at low tide c. 1 pm using the established ‘South West Coastal Path’.  On the 3rd day we cross the River Avon by small passenger ferry (available only until end of September). Saturday 10th September can be used as a travel day to get to the start point of the walk, but those in work will need to take holidays Monday 12th, Tuesday 13th (and possibly Wednesday 14th if home area is some distance from the field area).
- Reason for ‘linear walk’ format: very effective way of studying landforms and underlying geology in areas where there is plenty of change in these aspects; a fuller understanding of the landforms and geology can be gained by walking a route essentially at right- angles to the grain of the ‘country’ rock and examining exposures en route. This is a format that has been tried out with adult ed. students at Bristol University, is popular and has worked well. Idea is that you carry your overnight belongings etc in a rucksack – contents would be lightweight and kept to a minimum. Water bottles can be replenished each night. Pubs / caf├ęs are included for short breaks during each day.
- The proposed walk crosses the ‘grain’ of part of the Variscan Orogenic Belt in South Devon: beginning near the S end of Dartmoor, and working south to the coast at Bigbury Bay, then along the coast to Bolt Tail west of Salcombe.
- Geology covered: Hemerdon Ball Granite (offshoot of Dartmoor Granite), metamorphic aureole / metallic mineralization around margin of the latter; deformed basinal metasediments (mainly turbidite sandstones and slates) and interbedded mafic bodies; major strike-slip fault of the Start-Perranporth Line; mica schists and hornblende schists of the Start Complex (possibly lateral equivalent of part of the Lizard Complex).
- Logistics: 3 day walk. Approx total distance walked 15 – 20 miles; many stops en route to examine geology / landforms. Vehicles would be left at a secure location (arrangement made in advance) near the beginning of the walk. Coach / minibus and driver arranged in advance to pick up field party at a stated location and return to the secure parking location. B&B accommodation to be arranged in advance: in / near Yealmpton (end of 1st day); in /near Ringmore / Bigbury village (end of 2nd day).
- Tuition fee: £69.00 per person.  Cost of hired coach / minibus and driver would be divided between attendees and paid in advance. There is a small charge for the Avon passenger ferry which is paid on the day of the crossing.
- Attendees would be insured against accident for the duration of the trip.
If you find the proposal of interest and are able to attend, please let me know, sending in your tuition fee by Sunday 24th July. In order for the trip to be viable and to work effectively, enrolled numbers will need to be a minimum of 10, and a maximum of 20.
I will contact those who have enrolled shortly after Sunday 24th July, to inform them whether the trip can be put on or not; if the former, arrangements will need to be made soon after for overnight accommodation, and transport (see below); if the latter, cheques will be returned to those who have sent them in shortly afterwards.
Contact: Dr. Nicholas Chidlaw.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mini Ice Age within 10 years?

US solar physicists have announced that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age. Will we be ice skating on the Thames by 2025?
Click here to read more.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Book review - Exe Valley

Hugh Prudden of the Somerset Geology Group has reviewed this new book as follows:-
The Quaternary of the Exe Valley and adjoining areas: Field guide.
Basell, L.S., Brown, A.G. and Toms, P.S. (eds).  2011. 
Quaternary Research Association.  
The Guide was produced to accompany the Field Meeting to the Exe Valley and adjoining areas 4-7 April 2011.The recently published field guide is an important contribution to our knowledge of the Quaternary of Somerset.  The following chapters are of particular interest for Somerset readers: -
The archaeological context of the Exe Valley and adjoining areas. (Basell, L. and Brown, T.) This chapter summarises the context, chronology, typology and raw materials of artefacts, and draws together the present state of knowledge.
Quaternary fluvial sequences and landscape evolution in Devon and Somerset (R. Westaway). This is a complicated chapter based on shoreline flats, river terraces and karstic features plus magmatic underplating.  Figure 3.3 shows there to have been an estimated post-Ipswichian uplift of 11-12m around Burroughbridge rising to 13-14m around Weston-super–Mare and the Mendips.
The Haldon Gravels Although in Devon this is a tightly argued assessment of the gravels on Haldon and is highly relevant to the wide spread of early Tertiary gravels on the Blackdown Plateau.
The Devil’s Punchbowl (S. Harrison).Visitors to Exmoor will be aware of the cirque-like feature above Winsford. It has been suggested that this was indeed the site of a small cirque but some of us wondered if non-glacial, as opposed to periglacial, processes could account for the features.  However, Stephen Harrison has researched the landforms and sediments in more detail and has added more supportive detail to his original suggestion that the evidence points to a cirque glacier.  Read the account and visit the site to see what you think. It may be relevant that recent research has suggested that the surface bedrock of Lundy in the Bristol Channel became exposed following deglaciation between 40-30 ka.  The presence of the nearby Irish Sea Ice Stream at a relatively recent date might explain increased snowfall and what seem to be fresh glacial landforms. Chard Junction Quarry and the Axe Valley gravels (Basell et al.) There are very few workable gravel resources in Somerset compared with Dorset except to the south of Chard in the Axe Valley; the Jurassic limestones are rapidly worn down and the clays are a non-starter.  However, there are considerably quantities of durable Cretaceous chert and flint outcropping on the sides of the Axe Valley together with a smaller contribution of Tertiary gravels from the Blackdown Plateau. These gravels are unlike the terrace staircases in most of our rivers; they from a stacked sequence resulting from erodible bedrock, high rates of sediment availability and periglacial transport.  Palaeoliths have recently been found in situ and optical age estimates give an intrinsic measure of reliability and a weighted mean age of 326+/- 22 ka.  The stacked gravels include periglacial structures at several levels; at the time of the field visit an excavated horizontal surface showed narrow vertical fissures filled with fine material as part of polygonal structures; it was like walking on the tundra!.
The Middle Pleistocene Deposits and Archaeology at Broom. (Horsfield et al.) The Broom sites are some 3km SW of the Chard Junction pits and were worked in the 1930s. C.E. Bean made valuable records and collections of Lower Palaeolithic hand axes at the time. This chapter summarises the stratigraphy, sedimentology and age of the deposits. Of particular interest is the Broom Member (Broom Gravel Member and Broom Sand and Silt Bed); the Bean archive suggests the association of the majority of artefacts with land surfaces contemporary with the Broom Member.  Recent pollen samples indicate a regional vegetation of boreal forest, with tree stands interspersed with wide expanses of open country and ericaceous heath.
The Doniford gravels (Basell, et al.) This is perhaps the most useful exposure for the general geologist as it has open access and is well-exposed.  The cliff is subject to erosion but this maintains a clear face.  It lies just to the east of Watchet harbour.  We owe much to the Wedlakes for their collections and observations together with those of C. Norman.  OSL samples do form a stratigraphically consistent time-series spanning from 65+/- 5ka to 25 =/- 3ka. These gravels are associated with periods of hillslope recession, mass wasting and periglacial solifluction which contributed to the gravels we see today.  It was a time of shallow braided rivers choked with rock debris.  The widespread angular unsorted head on lower valley sides is evidence of mass wasting; come the next glacial phase doubtless the head would be on the move again.
The geological setting and landform evolution of the Exe Valley and adjoining areas. (Brown, et al.)
This is a broad brush overview of the structure, topography, bedrock geology and superficial deposits.  It is thought–provoking.
Get your copy today from:
Quaternary Research Association.

Members £15: non-members £20.
Please note that on November 3rd Professor Tony Brown and/or Dr. Laura Basell will be talking to the Bath Geological Society about this new research.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Recent landslip affecting A46 in Gloucestershire - June 14th

The Western Regional Group would like to invite you to a Geological Society evening lecture on Tuesday 14th June, where Jonathan Merrick of Atkins and Gloucestershire Highways will be presenting a case study (including investigation techniques and preventative options) of a recent landslip which affected the A46 in Gloucestershire.
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.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Yet more dates for your diaries

Bath Geological Society:-
Thursday June 2nd - Lager, lager, lagerst├Ątten! A tour of exceptionally preserved German fossil deposits by Dr. Ian Harding, University of Southampton - further details on the website. 
Oxford Geology Trust:-
Sunday June 5th - guided geology & landscape trail along the Ridgeway National Trail.
Saturday June 11th - practical clearance session at Kirtlington Quarry
Our heritage lottery funded geoconservation project is now in its third and final year and is progressing well.
Cheltenham Mineral and Geological Society:-
Sunday 26th June  - mineral auction at Uckington & Elmstone Hardwicke Village Hall.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Ash from Iceland

There is a limited window of opportunity from today through tomorrow across the UK for volcanic ash fall from Grimsvotn in Iceland. The British Geological Survey (BGS) along with Edinburgh University and the Met Office are coordinating an exercise in ash collection and schools and individuals can get involved. The instructions are on the BGS website. This can be done with basic items available in any home or classroom.
Click here for some background information about the eruption.

Monday, 16 May 2011

21st May - Whitehall Quarry near Burford

Fossil Hunt to Whitehill Quarry near Burford, led by Lesley Dunlop of the OGT - 10 a.m. - 12 noon.
By popular request we are running this repeat field trip to Whitehill Quarry. This trip was over-subscribed in January, despite the very cold weather. In March, we completed the new local geology site designation assessment process for this Middle Jurassic site. The junction between the White Limestone Formation and the overlying Forest Marble Formation can be seen. We found numerous small bivalves & some gastropods at this site in January.
Members of the Cotswold Rare Plants Group will be present so there will be information about the flora too.
This trip is open to adults & children (aged 8 & over). There is no charge but pre-booking is essential.
Meeting place & directions will be confirmed on booking.
Please wear suitable clothing & bring snacks & drinks. Hard hats, goggles & safety jackets will be provided.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Lots of Dates for your Diaries

Tuesday May 10th - The Western Regional Group - ‘High Frequency Ground Gas Monitoring Applications’, presented by John Naylor, Ground-Gas Solutions Ltd.
6.30pm, refreshments and a chat from 6.00 p.m. Free - non-members welcome. S H Reynolds Lecture Theatre (Room G25), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ. 

Tuesday May 10th - WEGA AGM:
NOTE: Earth Sciences room G8 at 19:3
University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building (as above).

Saturday May 14th - Bath Geological Society - Saltford - a geological ramble, led by Simon Carpenter. Further details on the website

Thursday June 2nd - Bath Geological Society 'Lager, lager, lagerstatten! A tour of exceptionally well preserved German fossil deposits, Dr. Ian Harding, Southampton University.

Sunday June 12th - WEGA Field trip Glamorgan coast and Barry Island. Booking deadline Friday June 3

Saturday June 25th - Bath Geological Society members and their partners are invited on a circular walk looking at the Middle Jurassic of the Bybrook Valley - bring-your-own picnic in a Box garden afterwards. Further details from the Chairman.

Saturday June 25th - The Western Regional Group ‘Where the Pterosaurs Lived: a field trip to the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary strata of the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset’ led by Dr. David Martill, a reader in Palaeobiology at the University of Portsmouth. Contact Francesca Ryan if you are interested.

Friday, 29 April 2011

11th May - The Anthropocene: A New Epoch of Geological Time?

This important international and interdisciplinary conference features:
Keynote Address from Nobel Laureate Professor Paul Crutzen
Eminent speakers from the worlds of geology, Earth systems science, ecology, law and the media – including Will Steffen, Dennis Dimick, Davor Vidas, Andrew Revkin, James Syvitski, Dorothy Merritts, Erle Ellis and Toby Tyrrell
Venue:  The Geological Society (Burlington House)
Has humanity’s impact on the Earth been so significant that it defines a new geological epoch?  In the blink of a geological eye, through our need for energy, food, water, minerals, for space in which to live and play, we have wrought changes to Earth’s environment and life that are as significant as any known in the geological record.
In 2000, Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen first characterised this ‘perfect storm’ of human impacts on the planet, its ecosystems and the geological record as constituting a new ‘Anthropocene’ geological epoch, and the concept has since gained a firm foothold, both in the geological community and more widely.  Its significance is not simply a matter of geological taxonomy – it constitutes a new organising principle for natural and social scientists from a wide range of disciplines studying our interactions with life and the planet, for policy makers addressing resource use and environmental challenges, and for a broader public engaging with these debates through traditional and new media.
Registration rates:
Fellow / corporate affiliate £45.00
Non-Fellow £90.00
Student £0.00
Retired £25.00

To register, or to find out more about this conference, visit our website.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Geology walk - Blaise Estate - 8th May

Sunday, 8th May - Blaise Estate Geology Walk 10.30am-12noon
Discover the secrets and stories behind the amazing limestone formations.
Pre-booking essential, meet at cafe. £4 per person
Contact Blaise Estate office on 0117 353 2266 for details

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival - 29th April - 1st May

There is a free Grand Marquee on the beach in Lyme from 10am to 5pm, with lots of hands-on art and science for the whole family. The Natural History Museum will have about 35 scientists on hand with activities and displays, and they are keen to chat to visitors too. There is a Fossil Fair with a dozen Lyme and Charmouth collectors, and other exhibitors, most with hands-on activities, including the Jurassic Coast team, Natural England, Lyme Regis Museum, Dorset AONB, D.I.G.S., RockWatch, Isle of Wight's Dinosaur Isle, National Museum of Wales, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, National Oceanography Centre (including their research vessel, RV Callista moored in Cobb Harbour for visits), Plymouth University, the Buckland Club, and the Dorset Wildlife Trust, National Trust. We have guided Fossil Walks in the mornings, Rockpool Rambles, Shore Thing, Monocot Nature Walks, and workshops for kids from the Bristol Dinosaur Project. On Friday evening the Marine Theatre will host 'Desert Crossings', inspired by the Jurassic Coast, and on Sunday there are two shows of Forkbeard Fantasy 'All at Sea' cabaret.
The Festival is not just for youngsters either - we also have 18 great geo-talks in the afternoons and evenings.
Click here for further details.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Volcanoes, tropical reefs and copper ores - June 11/12th and 18/19th

Field Geology in Mid Wales: volcanoes, tropical reefs and copper ores led by Dr. Nicholas Chidlaw
Two consecutive weekends: Saturday 11th, Sunday 12th, Saturday 18th, Sunday 19th June 2011.
Base near the towns of Kington (first weekend) and Builth Wells (second weekend). For further information see website. All enrolments are via the University of Cardiff.
Note: this course is accredited, involving attendees agreeing to take an assessment (fairly painless) of their learning.
Highlights of the course include:
* Welsh Borderland landforms with hogsback hills and craggy uplands
* Precambrian sediments and igneous rocks correlated with Shropshire further north
* Coral-rich limestones of mid-Silurian age (collected unrestricted - working quarry)
* Oldest dated rocks in southern Britain
* Traces of copper ores within fissures in the rocks
* Igneous intrusions with baked margins
* Felsic lava domes and tuffs, and basaltic pillow lava.
This course is to be run through the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University, and assumes no prior knowledge on the part of those enrolled.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

April events - Oxford Geology Trust

Saturday 9th April - “Oxfordshire Goes Wild” at the Natural History Museum, Parks Road, Oxford. OGT staff will be on hand to tell you more about our work. Activities include handling dinosaur teeth & claws, digging in the sand for fossils, viewing specimens down a microscope and more!!
From 12 to 4pm. This annual family event is a chance to meet wildlife & conservation groups from around the county, and to find out more about their work.
At 4pm there is the opportunity to watch the premier showing of 'Devil Birds', narrated by David Attenborough, a film detailing the lives of the swifts in the Museum Tower. The film lasts 50 minutes.
All activities are free with no need to book.
Saturday 16th April - Fossil Hunting trip to Shorncote Quarry in the Cotswold Water Park, Gloucestershire.  Fossils are numerous in this Upper Jurassic Cornbrash Formation. We may also have time to search for fossils in some of the Quaternary Gravels.
Field trip to be led by Alan Banyard of the OGT.
From 10:30am until 2:30pm.
This trip is open to adults & children aged 10 plus. There is no charge but pre-booking is essential. Meeting place & directions will be confirmed on booking. Please wear suitable clothing and boots or wellingtons. Hard hats, high visibility jackets & safety glasses will be provided. Please bring your own if you have them.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Two dates from WEGA - April 24th and May 10th

Easter Sunday - 24th April - A Geological Traverse across North Wiltshire with Dave Green
This trip will start in the mid- Jurassic near Alderton, travel across the Oxford clay to the Corallian escarpment, then onto the mud springs in Kimmeridge Clay, and finishing in the Cretaceous with the Chalk near Hackpen Hill.
Registration and booking needed by deadline of Friday 15 April, via WEGA web site.
10th May - WEGA AGM - Wills Memorial Building, 7.30 p.m.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ice Age in Ebbor Gorge, Mendip Hills

'Where the wild things are: the Ice Age in Ebbor Gorge'. This talk will take place on Wednesday 13th April, 7.30 - 9.00 p.m. at The Avalon Marshes Centre, Westhay.
A fascinating opportunity to learn about the ongoing excavations in a previously-unexplored cave in Ebbor Gorge that have brought to light a remarkable series of fossil remains dating back to the closing phases of the last Ice Age.
Booking for this free event is essential. To book please call Natural England on 01458 860120 or email.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

April 7th - Caves and Cannibals: a Mendip perspective

Bath Geological Society invites you to an evening lecture on Thursday April 7th. 'Caves and Cannibals: a Mendip perspective' will be presented by Professor Danielle Shreve.
The area of the Mendip Hills in Somerset contains some of the most important Pleistocene cave sites in western Europe in terms of their vertebrate assemblages, Palaeolithic archaeological finds and early human remains. These sites span the period from c. 500,000 years ago until the end of the Pleistocene, c.10,000 years ago and provide a unique insight into changing climates and patterns of animal and human movement and behaviour. This lecture reviews some of the classic localities, such as Westbury-sub-Mendip and Gough’s Cave, focussing on the inferred age and palaeoenvironmental signatures of the fossil faunas, the taphonomic origins of the deposits and the significance of the archaeological assemblages. In addition, new research from a previously unexplored cave containing a rich terminal Pleistocene fauna will also be presented.
The talk begins at 7.30 p.m. at the BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath. Everyone is welcome - visitors £4.00 - free refreshments.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Japan - earthquake and tsunami

This photo shows images of Yagawahama, Oshika Peninsula, before and after the tsunami struck the coastline. Click here for similar photos.
The earthquake struck on 11th March, 2011 at 5.46 a.m. - 38.322N 142.369E. It occurred 129km off Sendai, Honshu at a depth of 32km. Its magnitude was 8.9 - 9.0. The tsunami height was 10m and, to date, the estimated death toll is 18,000 people.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Geological and Geotechnical Mapping using LiDAR - March 15th

The Western Regional Group of GS would like to invite you to a Geological Society evening lecture, ‘Geological and Geotechnical Mapping using LiDAR’, presented by Adrian Wilkinson of QuarryDesign Ltd.  This event is taking place on Tuesday 15th March.   
Detailed geological and geotechnical data can sometimes be hazardous to obtain, particularly in areas of instability such as quarry faces or landslips. Traditionally, a quarry survey would have been undertaken using differential GPS or by total-station surveying, with more detailed discontinuity data collection being undertaken at distance by direct-reflective techniques or at the rock face using compass clinometers.  However, recent significant improvements in LiDAR (light detection and ranging) surveying means it is now possible to use LiDAR to obtain data at faster speeds and over a greater distances, in the order of 3,000m from the rock face.
Adrian will demonstrate how long-range high definition LiDAR techniques can be used as part of an integrated approach to geological and geotechnical mapping, allowing more accurate data to be collected both quicker, and more safely. Furthermore, the enhanced survey detail obtained using LiDAR can be combined with advances in computer processing power and software engineering to allow more complex and realistic simulations and potential hazards, such as rockfalls, to be undertaken.
Adrian is Geotechnical Director at QuarryDesign and is an aggregates geologist with over 17 years experience within the quarrying industry undertaking site investigations and producing quarry development plans.  He is a Chartered Geologist and Fellow of The Geological Society of London, a Member of the European Federation of Geologists, a Member of the Institute of Quarrying and a Member of the Irish Mining and Quarrying Society.  QuarryDesign and its associated consultancy QuarryPlan Ltd provide geological, geotechnical, mineral planning and estates management advice to the quarrying industry.
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.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

4-5th April - Geological Collectors and Collecting 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.
Click here for further details.