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