Monday 31 December 2012

Natural gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking)

Click here for more information.

Bath Geological Society has a talk about fracking on April 4th 2013. The full programme is available on the website.

Friday 21 December 2012

New app for iPads - NHM Evolution

As its name suggests, the app is validated by the Natural History Museum, London. However, what the name does not really indicate is that it is essentially a history of life, mostly focussing on the last 635 million years since Ediacaran times. It is based on a book written by Douglas C. Palmer in 2009, also endorsed by the Natural History Museum. The core of the app is a running sequence of 100 reconstructions of past scenes based on specific sites and populated with over 800 named and described organisms, so it provides quite a good coverage of macroevolution in both marine and terrestrial environments.
The app also has a number of other features and one of the most important of these is a spinnable timeglobe, which uses Dr Alan Smith’s well known Timetrek programme. Plate motion since Ediacaran times can be tracked and manipulated with the globe turned and expanded.

Thursday 20 December 2012

9th January - Conference at University of Bath

Free Microscopy and spectroscopy conference with some really good geology-related talks, e.g. Chemical ghosts in the Fossil Record.
Email to register.

Early Career Geologist Award and Photographic Competition

The Geological Society Western Regional Group
Early Career Geologist Award 2013
Western Regional Group Photo Competition
Further details

China uses geology to challenge Japan on disputed islands

After making its first aerial incursion into Japanese-controlled airspace near disputed islands, China compounded tensions with Japan by bolstering its territorial claims at the United Nations. On Dec. 14, two days before elections in Japan, China submitted to the world body an 11-page report citing the continental shelf's geology to claim ownership of the islands in the East China Sea, which may be surrounded by undersea oil and natural gas fields. "Physiognomy and geological characteristics show that the continental shelf in the East China Sea is the natural prolongation of China's land territory," China said. On that basis, China extends its claim to resource rights beyond the standard 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Read more

Friday 14 December 2012

8th January - Volcanic Terrains across the Solar System

Mapping the Volcanic Terrains across the Solar System
8th January
Dr. Ellen Stofan
6.30 - 7.30 p.m.
Rosalind Franklin Room, At-Bristol
Many planets and moons of our solar system show evidence of volcanic eruptions. The early missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus and Mercury were truly missions of discovery, with great debates in the scientific community on the roles of impacts and volcanic eruptions in shaping their surfaces.
Discover how these alien volcanic features are mapped and interpreted with knowledge and techniques developed from studies of volcanoes on Earth. A perfect way to celebrate BBC Stargazing Live.  
This is a free lecture, suitable for over 12s, and is supported by the University of Bristol.
Book your place!
Book on-line or 'phone 0845 4586499 (working hours)

Monday 10 December 2012

Shale Gas

Blackpool shale gas deposit is 50% larger than first thought.
Read more

Tribute to Patrick Moore

Click here to see The Geological Society's favourite Patrick YouTube outing.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Saturday 8 December 2012

Huge cracks on the Moon

Ebb and Flow, the twin spacecraft that comprise NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, have created a gravity map and other analyses of the moon, and it seems that it is riven by deep cracks. The gravity map reveals an abundance of features never before seen in detail, such as tectonic structures, volcanic landforms, basin rings, crater central peaks and numerous simple, bowl-shaped craters. The map also reveals evidence for fracturing of the interior extending to the deep crust and possibly the mantle. The Moon's crust has an average thickness of between 21 and 27 miles (34 and 43 kilometres), which is about 6 to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometres) thinner than previously thought.

Oldest known dinosaur?

Palaeontologists have found what is likely to be the oldest known dinosaur, filling in an evolutionary gap. Nyasasaurus parringtoni, a new species from 10-15 million years before the previous earliest dinosaur specimens. It walked on two legs, measured 2-3m in length with a large tail and weighed between 20 and 60kg.
Read more

Thursday 29 November 2012

4th Dec - Adjaristsqali Hydropower Cascade, Georgia

Tuesday 4th December 2012,
'Adjaristsqali Hydropower Cascade, Georgia’,
presented by Finlay Booth of Mott MacDonald.
Located within the Lesser Caucasus of southern Georgia the proposed
Adjaristsqali Hydropower Cascade consists of three schemes with a total installed capacity of 400 MW. This presentation will describe how the Mott MacDonald geotechnical team went about carrying out the geological and geotechnical investigations and how the findings fed into the iteractive design process leading to a final scheme layout, which was quite different to that envisaged at project inception.
Refreshments, including a festive buffet will be available from 6.00 p.m. and the evening lecture will commence at 6.30 p.m. The event is open to non-fellows, so please feel free to invite your colleagues or friends.
Venue: S H Reynolds Lecture Theatre (Room G25), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ.
Contact: For enquiries regarding this event or for any queries regarding the Western Regional Group and forthcoming events please contact us.

Explore Treasures at the Natural History Museum

Discover the history and science of each object in the Treasures collection. Learn what each tells us about our world and the remarkable people who have helped explore and understand it.
Read more

Saturday 24 November 2012

Things that are built on top of supervolcanoes!

As most people know, Yellowstone, Rockies, USA is a supervolcano capable of exploding into an eruption thousands of times larger than that of 'ordinary' volcanoes, like Mount St. Helens or the one on Montserrat. How many other magma cannons have been built over by oblivious engineers and planners? There are at least six:-

Secret weapons lab, USA - Los Alamos National Laboratory, built almost directly over the supervolcano Valles Caldera

Space Centre - Tanegashima Space Center, the largest rocket facility in Japan, sits on an island very close to the sea floor supervolcano Kikai Caldera
Los Alamos National Laboratory, which housed the development of the Manhattan Project, was built almost directly above a supervolcano dubbed Valles Caldera

Read more:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, which housed the development of the Manhattan Project, was built almost directly above a supervolcano dubbed Valles Caldera

Read more:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, which housed the development of the Manhattan Project, was built almost directly above a supervolcano dubbed Valles Caldera

Read more: Valles Caldera (pValles Caldera (p
Space centre, Japan - Tanegashima Space over the supervolcano Kikai Caldera
National capital - Guatemala City residents wonder which one of the four volcanoes surrounding the city is going to erupt. However, they can't see Atitlan Caldera, a supervolcano 73 miles away

Resort town - Mammoth Lakes, in California's Central Valley, home to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and above an active supervolcano, Long Valley Caldera

Naples, Italy - The Phlegraean Fields is a massive areaaround southern Italy; it contains Mount Vesuvius

North Island, New Zealand -  Taupo Caldera, one of the most active supervolcanoes in the world. 80% of the population live on North Island

For full article, click here

Saturday 17 November 2012

9 - 14 June 2013 - Geology of the North Pennines Field Trip

This will be part of the joint 2013 field trip programme organised by the West of England Geologists' Association, Bristol NATs and Bath Geological Society. We are publishing this early because confirmed reservations and deposits have to be made by Friday 7th December
Click here for full details.
Contact to reserve your place.

An Ice Age is coming - only C02 can save us

A group of Swedish scientists at the University of Gothenburg have published a paper in which they argue that spreading peatlands are inexorably driving planet Earth into its next ice age, and the only thing holding back catastrophe is humanity's hotly debated atmospheric carbon emissions.
"We are probably entering a new ice age right now. However, we're not noticing it due to the effects of carbon dioxide," says Professor of Physical Geography. Lars Franzén, from the Department of Earth Sciences at GothenburgUniversity.
Peatlands grow in height and spread across their surroundings by waterlogging woodlands. They are also one of the biggest terrestrial sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Each year, around 20 grams of carbon are absorbed by every square metre of peatland.
The scientists have calculated that the potential is there for Swedish peatlands to triple in extent, enormously increasing their carbon sink effect. By extrapolating to include the rest of the world's high-latitude temperate areas - the parts of the globe where peatland can expand as it does in Sweden - they project the creation of an extremely powerful carbon sink. They theorise that this is the mechanism which tends to force the Earth back into prolonged ice ages after each relatively brief "interglacial" warm period. Carbon sequestration in peatland may be one of the main reasons why ice age conditions have occurred time after time.
With no other factors in play, the time is about right for the present interglacial to end and the next ice age to come on. Indeed, Franzén and his crew think it has barely been staved off by human activity. The researchers believe that the Little Ice Age of the 16th to 18th centuries may have been halted as a result of human activity. Increased felling of woodlands and growing areas of agricultural land, combined with the early stages of industrialisation, resulted in increased emissions of carbon dioxide which probably slowed down, or even reversed, the cooling trend.
Other scientists have attributed the Little Ice Age to a quiet period in the Sun's activity: others say it was purely a local effect in Europe.
Thus, on a global scale, carbon sequestration in peatlands may have had important climate cooling effects towards the ends of previous interglacials ... It cannot be ruled out that similar effects would be seen in a hypothetical Holocene lacking human presence.
It's probably worth noting that the great physicist Freeman Dyson long ago suggested that only relatively small amounts of new peatland would be enough to sequestrate colossal amounts of CO2 from the air. Other scientists have noted in recent times that brief warming spells like that observed at the end of the 20th century appear to have occurred towards the end of previous interglacial periods - just before the glaciers returned.
If Franzén and his team are right, the big chill is now under way, and is only just being held off by increasing human carbon emissions - perhaps explaining why temperatures have been merely flat for the last 15 years or so, rather than descending.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Dec 6th - Eight Evolutionary Myths: the closing of the Darwinian mind?

Eight Evolutionary Myths: the closing of the Darwinian mind?
Professor Simon Conway-Morris, F.R.S., Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
Prof. Conway-Morris’ focus of research concerns the study of the constraints on evolution, and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity, especially with respect to the construction of the major animal bodyplans in the Cambrian explosion. His work is central to palaeobiology, but is also of great interest to biologists and bioastronomers, as well as the wider community.
Click here to read 'Rethinking Evolution'
BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath, 7.30 p.m. 6th December
Everyone is welcome - visitors £4 - free refreshments

Nov 16th - Visit to Moon's Hill Quarry and Somerset Earth Science Centre

Bath Geological Society is organising a visit to this quarry on November 16th. There are two places still available.
Please contact our field secretary - email or tel. 07712776117.

Friday 26 October 2012

Fossil Rock Anthem

What do you think of this?

Limbed Fish

Recent discoveries of advanced fish-like stem-tetrapods (for example, Panderichthys and Tiktaalik) have greatly improved our knowledge of the fin-to-limb transition. However, a paucity of fossil data from primitive finned tetrapods prevents profound understanding of the acquisition sequence of tetrapod characters. However, a new stem-tetrapod (Tungsenia paradoxa gen. et sp. nov.) from the Lower Devonian (Pragian, ~409 million years ago) of China, extends the earliest record of tetrapods by some 10 million years. Sharing many primitive features with stem-lungfishes, the new taxon further fills in the morphological gap between tetrapods and lungfishes. The X-ray tomography study of the skull (photo) depicts the plesiomorphic condition of the brain in the tetrapods. The enlargement of the cerebral hemispheres and the possible presence of the pars tuberalis in this stem-tetrapod indicate that some important brain modifications related to terrestrial life had occurred at the beginning of the tetrapod evolution, much earlier than previously thought.

Thursday 18 October 2012

West Country Geology field programme 2013

A meeting was held at Box during August where it was agreed by representatives of BNS Geology Section, Bath Geological Society and West of England Geologists’ Association that, as a one-year trial, the three societies will organise a joint programme of field meetings for 2013.  This should be of benefit to members of all the societies, as we can all draw on a wider base of expertise, avoid clashes and repetitions, and ensure good attendance.  I am sure that this will be a positive improvement for all involved.
Please add any comments, thoughts and suggestions to this post.

24th October - The Forgotten Engineer

'The Forgotten Engineer'
19:30 Wednesday 24 October
Speaker: Trevor Thompson
This an illustrated talk on Charles Richardson (1814-1896) former President of the Bristol Naturalists’ Society Engineering Section. His many engineering feats, some of which are known to us all, could not have been achieved without the required knowledge and understanding of geology.
Talks take place in the S H Reynolds lecture theatre, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, BS8 1RJ.
Further details - Bristol Naturalists' Society - geology

Thursday 11 October 2012

21st October Itchington Lane clearance

John Toller is organising a clear-up of the exposure at Itchington Lane (Nr Thornbury) on Sunday 21st October
Map Ref ST 655877
Simple gardening tools will suffice. Bring gloves, wellies and a drink
The limestone outcrop is next to "Bristol's Time Gap" geological information sign, adjacent to road bridge under M5 motorway.
Please let John know if you may be free - otherwise he can try for an alternative date - email.

Amazing sight in the South Pacific

A reader sent the link to this video clip. He says some of the descriptions of the material are a bit suspect!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Somerset Geology Group - Autumn Newsletter

Please click here to download the Somerset Geology Group Autumn Newsletter from Hugh Prudden.

'Ammonite order' in architecture?

What are those on top of the fluted pilasters that bookend the façade in the photo above? Ammonites!
The ‘ammonite order’ was the brainchild of George Dance, who used it in London in 1789. It was taken up enthusiastically by Amon Wilds and his son, also called Amon, builder-architects who did a lot of work in Sussex, especially Brighton. Perhaps they liked ammonites because the name afforded the opportunity for a visual pun. Fossil-collecting was already a popular pastime by 1810, and ammonites, or ‘snake stones’ as they were often called, were prized by collectors. Their likeness fits wonderfully, if eccentrically, on top of the pilasters on this Lewes house, and no doubt acted as a kind of advertisement for the builders. In 1816 Castle Place was bought by a Dr Gideon Mantell, who was a geologist. No doubt he liked the ammonites too. 
Read more

Fossil reveals spider mid-strike

A hundred million years ago, an amber flow spoiled a spider’s day: it had waited, possibly for hours, to ambush a wasp in its web, and just as it decided to strike, spider, wasp and web were all trapped forever.
The good news for us is that it’s turned up at a dig in Myanmar's Hukawng Valley.

The early Cretaceous fossil preserves – with stunning clarity – the juvenile spider about to make a meal of a parasitic wasp that was trapped in its web. The spider is an orb weaver and relatives still exist today, although the kind in the amber is extinct. The wasp is a relative of species which today are parasites on both spiders and their eggs. There are also fifteen unbroken strands of the spider’s web also preserved in the fossil.

Monday 8 October 2012

Somerset Earth Science Centre and Tedbury Camp

Because of blasting in the quarry and the loss of the little Silurian fossils, Bath Geological Society's field trip on Friday 12th October has changed. We shall visit the Centre in the morning and tour one of the local quarries and then visit Tedbury Camp in the afternoon. There are further details on the website.
Booking is essential because of space in the Centre's minibus.
Contact: 07712 776117 or email.

Friday 5 October 2012

Scary-looking cat-sized dinosaur

A two-foot long dinosaur with the beak of a parrot, fangs and covered in bristly quills is the latest new dinosaur to be identified. The Pegomastax africanus scampered around the earth 200 million years ago. The new dinosaur, Pego, is a member of the Heterodontosaur family, and measured less than 1m and weighed less than a small cat. It had a beak and fangs and looked terrifying according to the mock-up created by the University of Chicago.
A Pegomastax skeleton had been sitting in a drawer in Harvard for the past 50 years, embedded in a piece of red rock. The rock was unearthed during a dig in South Africa in the 1960s.
Palaeontologists have speculated that the beaked two-legged cat creature may also have been covered in porcupine quills, saying that it would have been like a "nimble two-legged porcupine".
The volcanic ash in which the skeleton was buried has preserved hundreds of bristles that spread from Pego's neck to the tip of its tail.
The fangs tucked behind the beak - unusual in herbivores - were likely used for sparring and mating competitions. Maybe they were used mainly for nipping, in the manner of today's fanged deer.

Break-up of a plate?

An April 2012 earthquake in Indonesian may signal the breakup of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate and gave the earth's crust such a shaking that earthquakes happened all over the globe. That's the thrust of new articles in Nature, one of which analyses the quake and says the 11 April 2012 event had an extraordinarily complex four-fault rupture. The event was also noteworthy for being a slip-strike, an unusual type of earthquake that sees the crust split. Subduction, which happens when one plate slides beneath another, is a more common source of earthquakes. The article notes that “Occurrence of great intraplate strike-slip faulting located seaward of a subduction zone is unusual” and goes on to explain that the event started with one shock that "initially expanded bilaterally with large slip (20–30 metres)” before a “bilateral rupture was triggered on an orthogonal left-lateral strike-slip fault … that crosses the first fault.” Next came “westward rupture on a second … strike-slip fault” and the event finished when “rupture was triggered on another ... fault about 330 kilometres west of the epicentre crossing the Ninetyeast ridge.”

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Ancient streambed on Mars

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has made its first major science discovery.
Water—fast-running and relatively deep—once coursed over the now bone-dry surface; a finding based on the presence of rounded pebbles and gravel near the rover's landing site in Gale Crater.
What's more, the team has concluded that the water was present for "thousands or millions of years," though the researchers said it would take far more research to get a clearer picture of the flow's longevity.
The discovery is the first proof that surface water once ran on Mars. Planetary scientists have hypothesized that the cut canyons and river-like beds photographed by Mars satellites had been created by running water, but only now do researchers have on-the-ground confirmation—and the promise of learning much more about the nature and duration of the water flows.
"We've now identified pebbles and gravel at the landing site that clearly have been carried down by water, have been broken down and very much smoothed out," said William Dietrich, a geomorphologist working with the Curiosity imaging science team. "This is the beginning of our process of learning how much water was running and how long this area was wet."
Click here for full account.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

October 6th - Geology around Chew Valley and Broadfield Down

A Geostudies Saturday field dayschool
Saturday 6th October 2012, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Geology around Chew Valley and Broadfield Down
The area lies between the northern face of the Mendips and Broadfield Down, the site of Bristol Airport, and is the location for two of Bristol’s water reservoirs; Chew Valley Lake and Blagdon Lake, which use the impermeable Triassic Mercia Mudstone as their foundation.
We will aim to study the geology and landscape of this
attractive area, within a metaphorical stone’s throw of Bristol and Keynsham; together with an examination of the changing environments recorded by the sequence of rocks laid down over almost 200 million years.
To Enrol contact Dave Green or go to the Geostudies website
As usual, Dave will inform participants signed up to the course a week in advance of the date, as to the meeting point for the start of the course.

Saturday 22 September 2012

26th September - The Cabinet Maker's Daughter

The Cabinet Maker's Daughter is a play about Mary Anning, an early 19th Century Fossil collector in Lyme Regis. Created by local theatre company As One Productions from Dorset, it recently performed at the Jurassic Coast Earth Festival.
Wednesday 26 September, 8pm
The Brewhouse, Taunton
Age: 10+
Running time: 2 hrs
Full £9  60+ £9 Conc. £7

Mary Anning weekend

Mary Anning weekend 
Lyme Regis Museum
September 29th and 30th
10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
See the website for further details.

Mountains in the Sea

WEGA's first talk of the new season is 'Mountains in the Sea' to be given by Prof. Tony Watts, Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oxford. 
Tuesday 9th October, 19.30 
Wills Memorial Building, Bristol
Prof. Watts' recent work attracted much media attention late last year, with pictures showing volcanic seamounts being subducted into an oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Everyone is welcome.

Saturday 15 September 2012

October 7th - Kirtlington Quarry

Sunday 7th October - 10am - 1pm
Bio and geo-conservation Open Day  

organised by Oxfordshire Geology Trust (OGT) & Kirtlington Wildlife and Conservation Society (KWACS)

This disused quarry is a regionally important SSSI geological locality that exposes a sequence through the Great Oolite Series (Middle Jurassic) deposited between 167 to 164 million years ago, during the Bathonian to lower-most Callovian times – when this part of Oxfordshire was covered with warm, tropical seas.
Members of both OGT and KWACS will be available to discuss the local geology, flora and fauna of the site.
Geological tours of the Quarry: 10.30, 12.00
Light refreshments will be available

Friday 7 September 2012

Banwell Bone Caves - 8th and 9th September

Banwell Bone Caves are open this Saturday and Sunday from 10.30 - 4.30. Admission is free but donations towards further restoration can be made in the various collection boxes.

Isle of Purbeck - 28th - 30th September

Isle of Purbeck
Leader: Prof John C.W. Cope (National Museum of Wales)
Stay in Wareham or surrounding villages
Meet Sat 10am at viewpoint at SY905816
Need hard hat but not hi vis
Packed/pub lunch both days 

This meeting is arranged to coincide with the publication of Prof Cope’s revised GA Dorset guide. It will begin with an introductory talk, probably in Wareham Public Library, on the Friday evening. Saturday and Sunday will be spent in the field examining the succession in the Isle of Purbeck, which ranges in age from the Upper Jurassic, through the Cretaceous and into the Palaeocene;  many of the rocks are fossiliferous.  The principal structure of the area is a major monoclinal fold which has caused local overturning of the succession. The area is also famous for magnificent coastal scenery and its evolution, whilst economically Purbeck is important as the site of the largest onshore oilfield in western Europe. The new guide should be available before the trip.
Please note that the trip will be quite strenuous physically. There are steep climbs from sea-level to some 130 m (425 ft), together with steep descents that are likely to be muddy.  Beaches are often rough and traverses will involve boulder-hopping, seaweed covered rocks and soft shingle.  Boots with good ankle support are strongly recommended. Good waterproof clothing may well be needed as the coast is exposed to Atlantic weather. We hope to be in the vicinity of at least one hostelry each day for lunch.
Contact the GA for further information.

Siccar Point - bad development

Help to save Siccar Point and Hutton's famous unconformity.
Read more.

Monday 3 September 2012

Lifelong Learning 4 day course

Field Geology from the Malvern Hills to the Cotswolds
Tutor: Dr Nick Chidlaw
Two weekends in October: 6th, 7th and 13th, 14th
10.00 am – 5.00 pm each day

This highly scenic area spans the boundary between older folded rocks seen in much of Wales, and younger flatter rocks in southern England. Our study includes those from Precambrian to Jurassic age: metamorphics on the craggy Malverns, red desert strata in a cliff on the River Severn, and shelly oolitic limestone limestones (some formerly containing dinosaur bones) in Cotswold quarries.
No prior knowledge of geology or the locations is assumed. Attendees arrange their own transport and lunches. Meeting locations to be provided to those enrolled.
The course is organized through Cardiff University. It carries assessment, which is very difficult to fail!; attendees usually find assessment on these courses useful for consolidating what they have learned.
Tuition fee is £122.00 (Concessionary fee available £98.00).
Enrolments can be made by ‘phoning 029 2087 0000 or see website. For more information on course content and specific field locations, contact tutor.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Interested in Curiosity on Mars?

If you are interested in the adventures of Curiosity, the latest robot on Mars, click on the The Geologicial Society's blog on the right-hand side of this blog.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

More diary dates for September

Sunday 2nd September, 11am - 5pm - The Wychwood Forest Fair
Southdown Farm, Crawley Road, Hailey, Oxon
This has become a popular annual event celebrating the diversity and
richness of the Wychwood Area & the working and leisure activities of the people living there.
Stalls will include: Local foods, rural arts, crafts, community
groups, conservation groups, educational organisations, tourism,
recycling, competitions for children and adults, Hatwell’s Famous Fun
Fair, refreshments, story tellers, Morris dancers, The Wychwood Brewery, bookstall, local produce and many more!

Wednesday 5th September, 7.30 - 9.30pm - Oxford Geology Trust AGM followed by a lecture on the ‘Geology in Oxfordshire Churchyards’  by Lesley Dunlop
Display of local fossils and geological specimens, sale of OGT literature.
The Morgan Room, Horspath Village Hall, Oxford Road, Horspath,
Oxfordshire OX33 1RT

Saturday 8th September, 10 - 1pm - Practical Geo-conservation Site Clearance Session Lye Hill, Wheatley Road, Forest Hill, OX33 1EP
Leader Owen Green
Pre-booking is essential - email
This regionally important SSSI geological locality exposes the most
complete succession of the Wheatley Limestone. Led by Owen Green. Walter Coaches have kindly given us permission to meet in the quarry car park (SP 592 068) We will provide tools, safety equipment, refreshments. Please bring  extra drinks and snacks.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Diary dates for September

6th September - Microbialites (stromatolites), tufa and reservoirs
Professor Maurice Tucker, University of Durham
Microbes have a lot to answer for - in geological terms they produce some spectacular rocks and their deposits are also very important hydrocarbon reservoirs, (recent huge discoveries offshore Brazil). Stromatolites provide evidence of the earliest life on Earth. Tufa, common in the Bath/Cotswolds area, is also produced by microbes (some say!). So should make for an exciting talk.....
Further details: Bath Geological Society

8th September - Geology and Mining in the High Littleton - Camerton area
Dr. David Workman, Bath Geological Society
Meet at 10.30 a.m. at the Church in High Littleton ST646580 (easy on-road parking around - not on the A39!) There is a convenient pub, The Hunter's Rest or we can picnic at the Nature Reserve at Camerton mine.
Further details: Bath Geological Society

15th September - Portishead coast and Clapton in Gordano area
Andrew Mathieson, Avon RIGS
The morning will be a walk along the Portishead coast, where we will examine a superb sequence of Devonian rocks, with a variety of sedimentary structures. These are overlain by Triassic deposits on well exposed unconformities and are also tightly folded with fossiliferous Carboniferous limestones.
After lunch in Clapton-in-Gordano we will follow a circular walk to explore the puzzling arrangement of the local Carboniferous rocks, and try to work out the structure and succession of the Clapton coal field. This is a complete contrast to the morning, with only limited exposures and seldom visited by geologists.
Western Region GS
Contact Frankie Ryan for details and to book before 7th September
Non members are welcome.

Friday 17 August 2012

Karst - 22nd August - 1st September

presents an exhibition of live rock at
The Walcot Street Chapel
Bath BVA1 5UG
Wednesday 22nd August until Saturday 1st September
11am - 5pm, Thursdays 11am - 9pm

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Curiosity - robot on Mars

NASA has successfully landed a third robotic rover on Mars, Curiosity, to accompany its sisters Spirit and Opportunity. Equipped with a HD camera, it is sending us beautiful colour imagery of the surface of Mars. Its task is to sample the geology and look for evidence of microbial life on the red planet.
Already, images transmitted back reveal an environment that wouldn’t look out of place in any geologist’s dream. Death Valley-like rifts, dune fields, and cratered landscapes all form part of the Martian surface, each feature with a unique geological history to unravel. Scientists have been able to determine that Mars is in a primitive stage of plate tectonics by looking at high-resolution images of Mars’ geomorphology and fault systems. Valles Marineris, a 2,500 mile long gash in Mars’ surface may actually be a horizontally-moving fault separating two huge tectonic plates. As Curiosity continues its mission, more about the geology of Mars may be uncovered, and may help us to understand the geological history of life on our own planet. You can read more about Curiosity’s crater-hopping adventures on the Geological Society’s blog

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Somerset Geology Group Newsletter Autumn 2012

Hugh Prudden of the Somerset Geology Group has sent the following;-
The centre of Yeovil is noteworthy for excellent displays of the condensed, algal facies of the Barrington Beds (Beacon Limestone, Upper Lias Limestone, Junction Bed, or what you fancy) in walls and buildings. There has been a long-standing need for a supply of this building stone but it is no longer worked. There were once shallow quarries all over the outcrop. Recycled stone is not always satisfactory as it tends to break up.
This is just one example of the need to find small quantities of new sources; the idea is to exploit temporary exposures and take the stone for preparation in established work shops. Ben Miller, Minerals Planning Officer, Environment Directorate of Somerset County Council, together with Geckoello Consultants, are interested in seeking new sources of building stones, especially for renovation work.
a. They need information on the which building stones might be needed but are no longer available e.g. North Curry Sandstone, Wedmore Stone, Calcareous Grit from the Upper Greensand, White Lias.  We need more suggestions.
b. We also need more potential sources of stones.
At present there are good supplies of Doulting Stone, Ham Hill Stone, Blue Lias, Budleigh Salterton Pebble beds (sandstone facies) at Capton, and Upper Westleigh Limestone. The Morte Slates in the old waste screes at Oakhampton Quarry are being used for walling. I would be happy to coordinate suggestions.

We are in the early stages of setting up a collection of Somerset building stones at the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton. We need good examples of North Curry Sandstone, Pennant Sandstone, Downside Stone.
Contact: Hugh Prudden with any information

Somerset Geology Group - other news
We no longer have meetings for various reasons but keep in touch with an occasional Newsletter.  This goes out to some 60 recipients, both local worthies and many in academia. Hugh welcomes news of recent publications, research and meetings. SGG is a loose association with no formal constitution or subscription. We do not seem to have a formal website yet but perhaps one day....this is Somerset! However, if you Google appropriate names and topics you will find much of interest including a useful Somerset Good Rock Guide to Somerset. It is a quick reference guide to the best places of general geological interest in Somerset. It is a starting point for exploring ...  Members are very active in various fields.  Please let me know of anyone who would like to be on the mailing list.

Websites of interest:-
a. this one! It contains news of events at home and abroad and useful links to associated groups in the region, one of which is the Bath Geological Society which has a superb programme of speakers and are recommended if you live in the area. 
b. Outcrop - blog of the Avon RIGS Group-promoting geology in the West Country’.  It contains news of forthcoming events, RIGS of the month spot, local minerals, fossils etc. It is clearly written and usefully highlights the various aspects of Avon and nearby areas.  Worth a look at.
c. Doreen Smith of the Dorset GA  Group issues a fine Newsletter with accounts of Dorset’s  geological highlights and events.  Details on their Website.

18th August - Beachley Point and Tidenham Chase

Saturday 18 August
An all-day geological ramble around Beachley Point and Tidenham Chase with Dave Owen, formerly of Gloucestershire Geology Trust.

We start at 10.00 hrs directly underneath the old Severn Bridge at Beachley, map reference SO 552 906.
Beachley Point is the confluence of Rivers Wye and Severn (which have their sources on either side of the same mountain in Wales, Plynlimon). The Lower Carboniferous Rock is overlain by Triassic mudstones, sandstones and conglomerates in an angular unconformity, as well as brought together by a fault. This will take about two hours.
In the afternoon we will drive to the village of Tutshill, walk around the southern end of Tidenham Chase, looking at the Wye Gorge, the Drybrook Limestone exposures at Wintour's Leap, then heading east, to see the entrance to the old railway tunnel (which emerges again at the base of Tintern Quarry, then into Dayhouse Quarry, where the Lower Dolomite is exposed (now home to the National Diving and Activity Centre).
Sandwiches, or for those who would prefer, the Live & Let Live at Tutshill can provide pub lunch. It is advisable to warn them of numbers in advance (contact details below). We can leave cars in their car park for the afternoon walk. This will be about 2.5 to 3 hrs, depending on speed of walking.
If the weather is warm, please bring plenty to drink and sun protection.
Live & Let Live Inn, Coleford Road, Tutshill, Chepstow, Gwent, NP16 7BN 08714 329005
(If anyone could offer a lift to a member coming from St. Philips, Central Bristol, could they please contact me as soon as possible?)

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Two Autumn courses

Dr Nick Chidlaw is proposing to run the following 2 indoor courses in the autumn, if there is sufficient interest and availability of people to make the courses viable. The courses focus on exposures that are no longer extant / minerals that are rarely seen today in the area described. The courses would run on the same weekend, although independent of each other. They would be held at The Chantry in Thornbury. They would comprise powerpoint-based lectures, together with examination of hand specimens of relevant mineral and rock types, and published geological maps. No prior knowledge of geology or the study areas is assumed.

Saturday 27th October 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Some 26,000 years ago, much of northern and western Britain lay below continuous glacier ice, and adjacent lands were occupied by inhospitable tundra. The Wye Valley Glacier, over 200 m thick, reached as far east as Hereford, where local hills protruded island-like above the ice sheet. This course offers an opportunity to study the legacy of a glacier, located some 40 miles from Bristol, from the most-recent cold climatic phase. Highlights include the plugging of the pre-glacial valley of the river causing its re-direction to that seen today, and the pond-studded kettle-kame moraine with its striking fold structures produced during melting of contained ice. 

Sunday 28th October 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

Following the end of the Carboniferous period around 300 million years ago, the area of the earth’s crust that became the British Isles began to stretch and heat as the North Atlantic Rift basin began to form. In the west of England, subsiding rift basins developed where the Cotswolds and Somerset Levels now lie. Between these places, in the Bristol – Mendip area, the crust was under tension at times, causing opening of lines of weakness including faults, joints and fissures. Into these created spaces, and cave systems, descending and ascending chemical-rich fluids accumulated, cooling and crystallizing to form mineral deposits. They include deposits of iron and manganese in Triassic times, and chiefly lead and zinc sulphides in Middle Jurassic times. Associated with the latter, other fluids spread extensively through porous strata in some areas, metamorphosing them to a silica-rich rock. Subsequently, many of these mineral deposits became of significant economic importance to man. This course will familiarise attendees with the history and character of this mineralization, and the impressive variety of mineral types that have been collected in the area in the past.

Tuition fee per course is £25.00 per person. The deadline for receipt of fees is 27th September. For further details of either or both courses, contact Nick Chidlaw.

Job opportunity - Somerset Earth Science Centre

A new post is being created at the Centre for a full-time assistant. The post is ideal for a graduate with teaching experience who wants to enter the environmental education sector.
Contact the Somerset Earth Science Centre if you are interested.

Mendip Rocks - events

Click here for full programme of festival events 

Sunday 12 August: 10.30 am – 4 pm
Guided walk to De La Beche Site and Tedbury Camp Fossil Collecting

Tuesday 14 August: 2 pm – 4 pm
Ebbor Gorge Guided Walk

Wednesday 15 August: 10 am – 3 pm

Mendip Quarry Geology

Friday 17 August: 2 pm – 5 pm
Geology, landscape and caves of Burrington Combe

Saturday 18 August: 2 pm – 5 pm

Westbury Quarry

Sunday 19 August: 2.30 pm

Asham Woods Walk

Tuesday 21 August: 10 am – 3 pm
Limestone Link

Wednesday 22 August: 10 am – 3 pm
Drystone Walling Training Day

Wednesday 22 August: 2 pm – 5 pm

The Geology and Scenery of Weston-super-Mare

Wednesday 29 August: 10 am – 4 pm
Rocky Roadshow

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Rock Circus in Box takes shape

Click here to view progress on this project.
The quarry blocks, obelisk, fossil rubbing table and climbing blocks will all be arriving next week from Tuesday. We hope the play surface, with its dinosaur footprints, will be poured on Tuesday 7th August. Hopefully, we shall be holding a small, unofficial opening ceremony on Thursday 9th August at 11.00 a.m Selwyn Hall car park, Box. Please come if you can!
Email for further details.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Chemical ghost of 120million years-old bird

This is the 120 million year-old fossil of Confuciusornis sanctus, a bird from China; the earliest known bird with a beak. About the size of a pigeon, it had long twin tail-feathers strongly suggestive of sexual selection. This bird was one of a flock that was caught in a volcanic explosion and ended up fossilised at the bottom of a lake. The fossil shows clear impressions of feathers, bones and soft tissues but what is even more amazing, there are chemicals which indicate its colour in life.
Read more - it's amazing, especially the ipad technology!

Scale of the Universe

Lyme Regis Museum activities

As ever, Lyme Regis Museum will be very active throughout the summer. There are fossil walks, Mary Anning walks and the new 'Facts on Fossils' sessions. These are mini master class for all ages and levels of interested fossilists, with plenty of fossil handling, tips on how to find and identify, and lots of recently-found extraordinary fossils to see and hear about, as well as an invitation to bring your own fossils for identification.
Visit the website for dates and details

Ancient relative of man

South African scientists claim they have uncovered the most complete skeleton yet of an ancient relative of man, that was hidden in a rock excavated three years ago. The skull is from a juvenile male Australopithecus Sediba species. It is not certain whether the species, which had long arms, a small brain and a thumb, was a direct ancestor of humans' genus, Homo, or simply a close relative.
Read more

Thursday 5 July 2012

How Volcanoes shaped Britain's Landscape

Have you seen this article?
Also, Volcano Live BBC2 9th July at 8.00 - Prof Iain Stewart and Kate Humble

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Monnow Valley - Landscape evolution on the Old Red Sandstone

Dave Green will talk about the Monnow Valley tomorrow, Thursday 5th July and lead a field trip to the area on Saturday July 7th
Everyone is welcome to both the talk and the field trip. £4 for visitors to the talk and £2 for visitors on the field trip.
The talk takes place at BRLSI, 16 Queens Square, Bath - free refreshments.
On Saturday, meet at 11.00 a.m. at St. Maughan's Church car park SO461171. Car sharing is recommended as we shall be on narrow roads with restricted parking. Strong shoes and a packed lunch are required.
Further details

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Outcrop - another west country geology blog

Have you seen Outcrop, Avon RIGS group blog? The Group's aim is to identify, survey, protect and promote geological and geomorphological sites in the former County of Avon - the modern unitary authorities of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. RIGS are selected for their educational, research, historical and aesthetic value.
There is a live link to Outcrop on the right-hand side of this blog so you can always see what is happening in the west country.