Tuesday 31 January 2012

Origin of Modern Humans?

The tip of a girl’s 40,000-year-old pinky finger found in a cold Siberian cave, paired with faster and cheaper genetic sequencing technology, is helping scientists draw a surprisingly complex new picture of human origins.The new view is fast supplanting the traditional idea that modern humans triumphantly marched out of Africa about 50,000 years ago, replacing all other types that had gone before. Instead, the genetic analysis shows, modern humans encountered and bred with at least two groups of ancient humans in relatively recent times: the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia, dying out roughly 30,000 years ago, and a mysterious group known as the Denisovans, who lived in Asia and most likely vanished around the same time. Their DNA lives on in us even though they are extinct.
Read more

Sunday 29 January 2012

February 10th - Supernova fallout

Prof. Tim Elliot of the Earth Sciences department, University of Bristol will be talking on the composition of meteorites in his Inaugural Lecture - "Fallout from a supernova neighbour".
6.00 p.m. Friday 10th February
Reception room, upstairs, Wills Memorial Building, Bristol
Free - further details from Nicola Fry - email or 0117 928 8515.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Next week with Bath Geological Society

Bath Geological Society is holding its AGM at 7.p.m. on Thursday 2nd February - BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath.
This will be followed by our first lecture for 2012, 'Testing Macroevolutionary patterns in the fossil record' by Dr. Matthew Wills, University of Bath.
Biologists studying extant organisms have a huge battery of methods at their disposal. Morphology can be observed and dissected in great detail, physiology and biochemistry can be made the subject of experiment, behaviour can be observed, and heritable changes within populations can be studied from generation to generation. Information is available at tremendously high temporal resolution (the ‘ecological’ time scale). But life has a history spanning something in the region of 3.5 billion years, with Metazoa originating at least 540 million years ago. The extant biota is just one time slice of this history. However great our understanding of living animals, we could never have predicted the existence of dinosaurs from looking at today’s birds and reptiles, or giant 5m long sea ‘scorpions’ (eurypterids) from studying spiders and mites. Fossils provide us with less detailed morphological and palaeobiogeographical information, but over vastly longer (geological) time scales.
Everyone is welcome - £4 for visitors - free refreshments

On Saturday 4th February, the Society is hosting a field trip to Brown's Folly, geological SSSI for the Middle Jurassic, with Elizabeth Devon
Click here for further details about Brown's Folly. The morning is also our annual clear-up of the Geological sites on this reserve. If you know the site well and do not want to join the tour, then please come along with gardening tools and help to keep the sites open for others.
Meet at 10.00 a.m. at Brown's Folly Car Park (G.R. ST 798663). Strong boots, waterproofs, hard hats are required.

Thursday 19 January 2012

BBC 4 Tuesday 24th January - The Great Dying

'The Great Dying', a series of cataclysms that took place over a million-year period 250 million years ago - start of a new 3-part television series.  
Palaeontologist Richard Fortey investigates why some of Earth's species have survived for millions of years, and explores the characteristics that gave them the ability to endure events that led to the extinction of other creatures.

Bristol Naturalists' Society - Geology section

AGM and Members' Evening - Wednesday 25 January 2012 7:30
Please bring your specimens to show and talk about. Tales of geological trips, presentations and anecdotes are all welcome.
At the AGM we elect the President, the Secretary and a committee.
We should be very grateful for someone to volunteer to be secretary. 
Everyone welcome.
A link to the group can be found on the right-hand side of this blog

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Darwin's lost fossils found down the back of a cupboard

Fossils collected by a young Charles Darwin have been discovered in a gloomy corner of a British Geological Survey vault.
The treasure trove of fossilised wood, stone and vegetation includes samples that Darwin collected on the HMS Beagle journey, during which he came up with his theory of evolution. Lost for 165 years, the cabinet belonged to Darwin's good friend Joseph Hooker and also contained specimens from Darwin's mentor at Cambridge University, the Rev John Henslow.
Dr Howard Falcon-Lang, a palaeontologist at Royal Holloway University, stumbled across the old wooden cabinet shoved in a dark corner of a vault belonging to the Geological Survey in Surrey.
The slides include dense volcanic rock and samples gathered from all over the world - from Dorset to Antigua, India and Australia.
One of the fastest growing areas of research in the geosciences is what is now called 'geomicrobiology'. Although bacteria and other microbes have long been used in industrial processes such as bioleaching, where  metals are extracted from their mined ores, it is only now that the role played by microbes in geological processes is being fully appreciated. At and near Earth's surface, such organisms can be involved in electron transfer reactions that have a great impact on the chemistry of sediments, soils and waters, influencing the cycling of major elements such as sulphur and iron, and of trace toxic elements such as arsenic.
The reasons for the growth in interest in geomicrobiology is partly due to development of  techniques which can probe the composition of natural microbial communities and their genetic makeup. It is also because we now have techniques to study the very fine particle minerals, and the surfaces of those minerals, involved in many mineral-microbe interactions.
Geomicrobiology is fascinating partly because it is, literally, where geology and biology meet in the living world. Many questions about  mineral-microbe interactions remain to be answered, not least the question of how such interactions work at the molecular scale (as when an organism such as the bacterium Geobacter respires through an electron transfer reaction that involves the reduction of highly insoluble ferric iron oxide minerals to a much more soluble ferrous form).
Geomicrobiology is not just a subject of academic interest;  microbes can be set to work in helping to solve practical problems, such as in the clean-up of contaminated land and water, or the synthesis of novel mineral products.
As part of the initiative associated with the launch of the Geological Society's Environment Network, the Society is co-sponsoring (with the Society for General Microbiology, and the Mineralogical Society) a 2-day conference on 'Geomicrobiology- the roles and activities of microbes in processes of fundamental importance to geology'. This is planned for 19-20 April, 2012 in Manchester.

Monday 16 January 2012

Nature's Treasures 4

Nature's Treasures 4
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Parks Road, Oxford
Saturday 3rd March
10.00 - 16.30
Click here for further details and to register

Sunday 15 January 2012

A Job for someone?

Gloucestershire Geology Trust work to promote conserve and enhance the geology and landscape of Gloucestershire and, in partnership with other like-minded organisations, the surrounding area.
The Trust has a vacancy for a self-motivated capable individual to work as a project officer on the Huntley & Longhope Geowardens Project. The work will involve recruiting a team of volunteers from the community to carry out conservation and enhancement of an established geology and landscape trail.
Click here for further details.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Alternative Jurassic coast

Sent by a reader:-
"The recent stormy weather has washed clean the sea front at Clevedon and removed a lot of beach pebbles, sand and, more importantly, mud. The strata are much clearer than normally seen. South of the pier slip-way numerous steeply inclined strata have been revealed and these show similar folding to that seen on the Portishead shore. I have not examined these beds for fossils but I assume they are of a similar age. 
Between the slip-way and the cliff, by the pier, an expanse of near horizontal beds can been seen at low tide.  These lie just above the unconformity and the same near horizontal strata can be seen at Ladye Bay. Again these are exposed at low tide. 
Perhaps both bays in the present shore line were features of the Triassic and the present topography is an exhumed "Jurassic coast" unlike that mis-named along the south coast."

Thursday 12 January 2012

Google Street View does Fossils!

Ammonite Streetigraphy! One of the most famous French fossil localities is La Dalle à Ammonites (the Ammonite Slab) 1.5km north of Digne-les-Bains in the geological reserve of Alpes de Haute Provence. There are about 1500 ammonites, mostly Coroniceras multicostatum dating from the Lower Jurassic.
To find it type 44.119451,6.234215 (the latitude and longitude) into Google Earth and then just drag the little orange human figure on the left hand side on to the location and swing around. Fantastic!!

Fossil hunting on the Jurassic coast

Get Fossilling on the Jurassic Coast! Join one of Lyme Regis Museum’s famous fossil walks along this historic stretch of Dorset coast with Geologist Paddy Howe and Marine Biologist Chris Andrew. Some families return time and again to search with Paddy and Chris among the sand and rocks for fossils that have been washed down onto the beach after 190 million years. For adults and children alike, it’s an unforgettable experience.
Your fossil walk ticket gives you FREE access to the museum where you will be able to see displays of rare fossils, learn all about Mary Anning, the famous early palaeontologist who once lived on the site of the museum and much more. 
Cost: £10 adults, children and students £5.
Each walk is limited to 15 people per guide. Start times for walks vary according to the tides and take about three hours. Walks can fill up quickly on the day so before travelling any great distance please contact the museum and book a place: telephone 01297 443370 or email.

Walks Timetable - January 2012
Sunday 8 January 2012 09.00
Monday 9 January 2012 09.45
Tuesday 10 January 2012 10.30
Thursday 12 January 2012 11.45
Friday 13 January 2012 12.30
Sunday 22 January 2012 09.00
Monday 23 January 2012 09.45
Tuesday 24 January 2012 10.30
Thursday 26 January 2012 11.45
Friday 27 January 2012 12.15
Saturday 28 January 2012 12.45

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Google Doodle

Have you seen this today? It's to celebrate Nicolas Steno's 374th birthday. He changed the way we see the world.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall - June 2012

4 day course 17th - 20th June 2012 
Tutor: Dr Nick Chidlaw
This course examines the field evidence for the assertion that the Lizard Complex is composed of the remains of ancient ocean crust, metamorphosed in a plate tectonic collision zone and brought into contact with altered deep water sediments (including some formed in underwater landslides), discrete igneous intrusions and slices of older crustal basement. Varieties of the mineral serpentine, for which the Lizard is famous, will be examined. No prior knowledge of geology or the area is assumed.
The course (which involves some fairly painless assessment) is being offered through the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Cardiff University.
Further details on the website 
or 'phone the Centre 029 2087 0000.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Box Rock Circus

Box Rock Circus is planned for the village of Box, Wiltshire. It will be a facility designed to be both educational and recreational. We have been very fortunate so far in that most blocks of stone have been generously donated by the companies linked in Sponsors on the website.
However, your help is needed! We should like another rock block. As you can see, we have Box Stone, Carboniferous Limestone, andesite and a sandstone. A block of metamorphic rock would be ideal but any suggestions will be gratefully received - email contact.

Monday 2 January 2012

5th January - Eruption of Tambora

Bristol Natural History Society (Geology) - The Eruption Of Tambora - Jessica Kandlbauer  on Thursday 5th January 2012 at 19.30.
The 1815 Tambora eruption was one of the largest explosive eruptions in the last 1000 years. Over 60,000 people lost their lives during the eruption, mostly due to the consequent famine and epidemics as the ash fall destroyed crop harvests and contaminated water supply. The ash and gases released cooled the atmosphere by more than 1deg.C and the year of 1816 became known as 'the year without summer', leading to high food prices and serious famine even in Europe and North America. Would society face similar consequences today if such an eruption were to happen in the modern world?
Venue: Guide Association Hall, Westmoreland Rd, BS6 6YW