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.