Wednesday 18 December 2013

Wonderful world

Yellowstone and more

Evidence has been found of twenty ancient supervolcanoes near the Utah-Nevada border. Supervolcanoes are giant volcanoes that blast out more than 1,000 cubic km of volcanic material when they erupt. They are different from the more familiar straddle volcanoes because they aren’t as obvious to the naked eye and affect enormous areas.
Read more.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Science Rocks - today on Radio 4

Science Rocks! Today at 23.00 BBC Radio 4
This week, Brian Cox and Robin Ince are travelling back in time, to discuss when and how geology became a science, what the dinosaurs ever did for us and why cryptids, creatures of popular mythology, hold such fascination for those on the fringes of science. Joining the panel are paleobiologist Dave Martill, geologist and BBC broadcaster Hermione Cockburn, the comedian Ross Noble and legendary actor, writer and performer, Eric Idle.

Monday 2 December 2013

GS and Advent Calendar - sort of - -

Did you know that the GS is writing a post on its blog for every day in advent?
Click here to catch up. Doors 1 and 2 have already been published.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Date for 2014 - Oxford Colloquium, March 8th

The Oxford Colloquium will be held on March 8th, with fringe events happening on March 8th & 9th.
Further details
Book the dates now!

Monday 25 November 2013

WRGS Offshore Wind farms - November 26th

Challenges of Investigation and Design in Complex Ground for Offshore Wind farms
Imad Alobaidi & Andrew Benson
26th November / 6:30pm refreshments from 6pm
As part of the drive for a low carbon economy, offshore renewables are becoming increasingly important with major investments in offshore wind farms expected over the next ten years. With the increasing size of offshore wind farms being constructed in deeper waters with complex ground conditions, a reliable ground model and engineering parameters are essential for efficient design and construction.
Atkins, The Hub (Ground Floor), 500 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4RZ
Further details from WRGS

New volcanic island south of Japam

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Build a dinosaur - 24th November

Build a Dinosaur!
Sunday, 24 November 2013
11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm

Discover the science behind reconstructing dinosaurs and work with Robert Nicholls, the man rebuilding the Bristol Dinosaur, to create your very own dinosaur model and paint it in your choice of colours. More information on Bob's work is on his website, Paleocreations.
Suitable for 7 - 12 years. Aprons will be available but be prepared to get messy!
£10 per child. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
For details on how to book a place, contact M Shed reception on 0117 35 26600 or via email at

Friday 15 November 2013

Friday 8 November 2013

Tuesday 5 November 2013

November 12th - WEGA AND Western Region GS

On Tuesday 12 November, as well our regular WEGA session, there is a Western Regional Group (WRG) lecture. This coincidence continues with the respective speakers, Profs Brian Williams and Ted Nield, who are friends and also went to the same grammar school in Swansea!

WRG lecture: Ted Nield: Incoming! Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Meteorite
Meteorites have been the stuff of legend throughout human history, and since 1980 the idea that dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite strike 65 million years ago has become one of the most widely known scientific ideas of all. However, the causes of the end Cretaceous mass extinction were complex, and the idea that major meteorite strikes are always bound to be bad news for life on Earth is being challenged by fresh discoveries. New research is suggesting that 470 million years ago, a stupendous collision in the Asteroid Belt (whose d├ębris is still falling, to this very day) bombarded the Earth with meteorites of all sizes. A revolutionary idea is emerging that the resulting ecological disturbance may have been responsible not only for massive worldwide submarine landslides, but for the single greatest increase in biological diversity since the origin of complex life the hitherto unexplained Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event.
Ted Nield will be known to people from his role as editor of the Geological Society’s monthly magazine Geoscientist, and for his books Supercontinent and his most recent book, Incoming! 
WRG has extended an invitation to WEGA members to attend this lecture.
This talk will be in the Reynolds Lecture theatre (G25) and starts at 18:30

WEGA lecture: Brian Williams : From Bergs to Ergs: the Permo-Carboniferous glaciation of gondwana and its hydrocarbon potential
The supercontinent of Gondwana during Permo-Carboniferous times covered a vast area of some 120 million km2. It mainly comprised the land masses of Africa, Arabia, Australia, Antarctica, South America, India, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. Individual, largely intracratonic basins are of huge dimensions; over 600,000 km2 in South America (Parana Basin) and 450,000 km2 in Australia (Canning Basin). Glaciations shaped the landscape of the supercontinent particularly in the Late Carboniferous and Early Permian when it lay between 35o and 75o S. Petroleum prospectivity within this domain is still in an early phase although in excess of 100 fields have been discovered and are appraised at some 20 billion bbl of oil in place, mainly in Arabia, and 7-10 TCF of gas, largely in Australia. Hydrocarbon occurrences are most common within intracratonic basins with some restricted to foreland and rift basins. Source rocks tend to comprise older or younger mudrock sequences; trap styles are variable, and seal and reservoir rocks occur within the glaciogenic realm.
Glaciogenic facies comprise deposition in a bewildering kaleidoscope of environments and subenvironments assigned to supraglacial, subglacial, terminoglacial and proglacial settings although seal and reservoir facies are normally restricted to the latter two depositional realms. Basin infill-architecture is complex due to rapid changed in facies, both spatially and temporally, and the influence of periodic ice sheet advance and retreat producing multiple phases of erosion.
Current research, centred on Oman and West and South Australia, is addressing these key issues relating to the global evolution of the Permo-Carboniferous ice sheet, climatic versus tectonic control on sedimentation, characterisation of reservoir units and integration of outcrop with subsurface data.
The WEGA lecture will be in G8, and will start at 20:00. The regular WEGA wine and cheese event will be held at 19:30 following the WRG lecture

Monday 4 November 2013

Glaciation of the Polar Regions

November 7th - Glaciation of the Polar regions, James Cresswell, Geoworld Travel
James Cresswell has spent the last six years working as an expedition guide in the Polar Regions. This visual presentation, full of photos and video clips, gives an overview of the different forms and changing nature of 'ice' in these regions. The presentation discusses the great ice sheets, the floating ice shelves, as well as icebergs and sea ice. With the recent collapse of several Antarctic Ice Shelves, negative mass balance recorded for both the West Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets, and 2012 being the year with the minimum ever recorded extent of Arctic Sea Ice; it is clear that polar ice is currently undergoing dramatic change.
7.30 p.m. at BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath
Everyone welcome, visitors £4 - free refreshments

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Chemical Analysis at NHM & Zoning in Volcanic Phenocrysts - October 29th

Reminder from Western Region GS -
Chemical Analysis at the Natural History Musuem, London & Chemical Zoning in Volcanic Phenocrysts
Dr. Emma Humphreys-Williams, Natural History Museum

29th October / 6:30pm refreshments from 6pm          
Atkins, The Hub (Ground Floor), 500 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4RZ

Lead and zinc mining in Bristol/Mendip area - 30th October

'The environmental affects of historic lead and zinc mining in the Bristol/Mendip area'
Charlie Bacon, University of Bristol, Department of Earth Sciences.
7.30 pm - Wednesday 30 October 2013
S H Reynolds Lecture Theatre, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, BS8 1RJ. Charlie Bacon is currently undertaking research into heavy metal pollution and its environmental affects on the Mendips and Somerset Levels that arises from historic Lead and Zinc mining in the area. It is hoped to follow up this talk with a field meeting next summer. The talk will look at the geochemistry of mine-related contamination from the Mendip mines.
Everyone welcome
Bristol NATS - Geology

Sunday 20 October 2013

Fantastic Bath/Bristol trip to Gower yesterday

View over Rhossili Bay, Gower, taken on 19th October on the combined Bath GS/WEGA/Bristol NATS field trip. Dr. Geraint Owen from Swansea University was our leader for the day and complemented his excellent hand-out with clear, concise descriptions of the fantastic geology of Gower. Many thanks! Brilliant!

Geraint explaining the karstic upper surface of the Caswell Bay Oolite.
Photo sent by Helen

Thursday 10 October 2013

de la Beche unconformity, Vallis Vale, near Frome

Have you ever seen the site looking like this? Alan Holiday has sent the photos after he had done some more final clearance at the site.

Become a young Rock Detective - 28th October & 9th November

28th October - Become a young Rock Detective!
At the Court Hill Centre in Wantage (off A338). OX12 9NE, OS Map Ref SU394849
Fabulous Fossils and more: including an introduction to geology, fossil handling & identification, recognising rock properties and walking a landscape trail in the grounds of the centre.
For children aged 6 to 12, accompanied by an adult.
Cost £3.00 per child.
Organised by the Oxfordshire Geology Trust with support from the North Wessex Downs AONB
Booking essential, please email

9th November - Become a young Rock Detective!
At Devizes Museum
Lots of hands-on practical activities organised by Wiltshire Geology Group
Booking essential
For further details contact the Education Officer at the Museum.

Friday 4 October 2013

October lectures - Western Region GS

15th October - The Moral Case for Mining - is it a question the mining industry can answer? Mike Harris, Rio Tinto
The mining industry operates in an environment increasingly demanding of its products. However, establishing the moral case for taking natural resources from one area to benefit another with most of the profits leaving the host country is becoming increasingly difficult. The same is true of the often irreparable change to delicate ecosystems from mining - why should plants, animals and peoples suffer, often die, in one place to benefit development in another while dominantly enriching distant investors?        
S.H. Reynolds Lecture Theatre (Room G25), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ.
6:30pm, refreshments from 6pm
29th October - Chemical Analysis at the Natural History Musuem, London & Chemical Zoning in Volcanic Phenocrysts  Dr. Emma Humphreys-Williams, Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum, London not only provides an area for the display and curation of thousands of specimens from the natural world, but also houses extensive imaging and analytical facilities that perform work for both in-house researchers and external clients. The chemical analysis performed in the labs covers a range of techniques (e.g. ICP-AES, ICP-MS, LA-ICP-MS, CHN, IC) but is mainly focused on determining major and trace element compositions in natural samples. Emma will give a brief presentation of the work they do and the range of techniques that have developed as a result of the unique environment. The second half of Emma's talk will be devoted to her research, which concerns the petrogenesis of intra-plate magmas, in this case, an example from Calatrava, Spain. This work has focused on clinopyroxene and olivine crystals which exhibit a range of textures and chemical compositions, but help to inform how these unusual melts form.
Atkins, The Hub (Ground Floor), 500 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4RZ  6:30pm, refreshments from 6pm

Tuesday 1 October 2013

October 3rd - two lectures

'Volcanic risk communication: a heart-breaking subject - - still with almost no light at the end of the tunnel' by Professor Robert Thompson
Further details on the Bath GS website
7.30, BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath.
Everyone welcome - visitors £4 - free refreshments

'Kimmeridge Clay, Crinoids and Plesiosaurs' by Tim Ewin (ex Geology Section President, and now of the Natural History Museum)
Further details from Bristol NATS - geology
7:30, Guide Association Hall, Westmoreland Road, Redland.

13th century eruption traced to Lombok

Scientists think they have found the volcano responsible for a huge eruption that occurred in the 13th Century. The mystery event in 1257 was so large its chemical signature is recorded in the ice of both the Arctic and the Antarctic. European medieval texts talk of a sudden cooling of the climate, and of failed harvests.
The volcano responsible may be Samalas Volcano on Lombok Island, Indonesia.
Read more.

Monday 30 September 2013

FREE textbook - Earth's Dynamic System

This textbook is available FREE on-line
Click HERE

Very Temporary Exposure in Clifton, Bristol

Bristol NATS Geology has just received notice of a very temporary exposure in Clifton, Bristol.
It is described as follows " . . . looks to be Westbury Beds, sitting on Norian red marls and then on Carb Limestone . . . a really exciting exposure that would be important for someone(s) to visit and log the sequence and collect fossils from the Westbury (if that what it is). looking at the geological map only the Mercia Mudstone Group is depicted at that locality . . . finding Westbury would be important---notwithstanding the fact that it overlies red marls on Carb Lst . . . maybe the shoreline of a Triassic island.
Anyone interested in investigating? Please get in touch directly on 07789 507460  or 0117 973 2028
Please note: This is urgent - Must be done in the next couple of days. The site is private, and a building site, so access is extremely limited.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Pakistan Earthquake creates new island in the sea

A major earthquake that hit a remote part of western Pakistan killing at least 200 people has also created a new island just off the country's southern coast.
From the United States Geological Survey - 7.7 magnitude quake struck 145 miles southeast of Dalbandin in Pakistan's quake-prone province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran.
The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mud volcano island about 600 meters off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea. Television channels showed images of a stretch of terrain rising above the sea level, with a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.
Officials said scores of mud houses were destroyed by aftershocks in the thinly populated mountainous area near the quake epicenter in Baluchistan, a huge barren province of deserts and rugged mountains.
Read more

Monday 23 September 2013

West Country Geology Field trip to SW USA, 2014

Geology of the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range Province in the SW USA.
To date the number of people expressing a strong interest in this trip is close to it being viable.
In order to provide more information about the trip and hopefully to attract further interest, I have arranged a meeting for Sunday 6th October.  I will give an introductory lecture on the Geology of the western USA, followed by an overview of the planned route, with geology and road maps of the area on display, plus opportunity to ask questions about any part of the trip. Thus, if you have a potential interest in the trip and the geology of the area, then please come along to the meeting.
A link to download further details about the trip (costing, route, itinerary) is available via 'Next year's field trips' on the Bath Geological Society web site
The meeting on Sunday 6th October at 13:00, will take two to three hours, and be held in the village hall (BA5 1BA) in Wookey Hole (where I live). Free parking is available in the Wookey Hole Caves car park adjacent to the village hall. There would be a small charge to cover room booking and to provide tea and coffee (~ £1-2 per person). People might also wish to make a day of it and visit Wells city, or even the Wookey Hole caves?
If you wish to attend, please email me, so I have an idea of numbers. I will send a map showing the position of the village hall, closer to the time for those attending.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Clearance at Tedbury Camp

Alan Holiday sent the photos. He says that the work party had a good session at yesterday. A party of 15 worked on the rock faces as well as the steps leading to the site. We have visited the site in 2009 and 2011 and it seemed to me that this time work was a bit easier because of earlier sessions. The group also benefited from having three brush cutters and a chainsaw which facilitated clearing work. I think this again shows the benefit of having a group of committed individuals who are also interested in what they are doing (making the geology accessible). Some of the walkers going through the site were interested in what we were doing but were completely unaware of the geological significance of the site. There is clearly a need for raising awareness.
The session goes on tomorrow too.

Gold from outer space?

Read more

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Mary Anning - Mother of Palaeontology

Read more
There is a very good Earthlearningidea activity; go to 'search categories' on the home page and then select 'Evolution of Life'. Click here if you wish to download the pdf directly.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Mike Benton, mass extinctions and Bristol Dinosaur Project

Prof Mike Benton from Earth Sciences at Bristol was on The Life Scientific on BBC radio this week. The programme is available via the BBC iPlayer
Life on earth has gone through a series of mass extinctions. Mike Benton talks about his fascination with ancient life on the planet and his work on the Bristol Dinosaur Project.

Friday 13 September 2013

Clearance at Tedbury Camp - 18th - 20th September

The quarry faces and access steps at Tedbury Camp are now quite overgrown, with the quarry floor and SW perimeter also suffering from littering and camp fire debris. The rate of regeneration of silver birch and buddleia is staggering but, as always, it's the littering that's most annoying. Compared to its pristine condition a couple of years ago the situation is rather depressing.
 However, I'm confident that this can be remedied with our planned restoration campaign on Wednesday 18th - Friday 20th September 2013. If you know of any volunteer groups or individuals who may be prepared to roll up their sleeves during that period, I'd be delighted to hear from them. There are sufficient jobs to suit all tastes and energy levels. If you can bring some hand tools, such as a branch lopper, small spade, wire rake, secateurs, pruning saw, trowel or stiff-bristled brush, that would be very helpful. Tools with a bit more muscle - petrol-driven strimmers, hedge trimmers or chain saws - command an extra chocolate biscuit! Gardening gloves, a stout plastic rubbish bag and a bite to eat are essential, as is an ability to drink tea and eat biscuits ...
Some people will come for the three days, others will drop in for a few hours, but any level of support will be much appreciated. Access details are available on the website and day visitors can park at Fordbury Bottom (ST 749 492) and walk to the site.
For camping details or any queries please email.

Arctic sea ice and misleading data

No, the world isn't cooling.
Read more

Monday 9 September 2013

De la Beche, Vallis Vale site AFTER clearance

Many thanks to everyone who helped to clear this important site yesterday. You can see from the photos that it is much improved.
At the start:-
Nearly finished:-
The happy volunteers:-

Sunday 8 September 2013

Global warming or cooling?

There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, the equivalent of almost a million square miles.
In a rebound from 2012's record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia's northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin.
The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes.
Read more. 

AND YET - from another newspaper
Arctic sea ice delusions strike the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph
Read more.

Largest volcano on Earth

At a size equivalent to the state of New Mexico or British Isles, the underwater shield volcano known as Tamu Massif is the largest individual volcano ever documented on Earth, according to new research to be published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The underwater behemoth is nearly as big as the giant volcanoes on the surface of Mars, making it not only the largest on Earth, but among the largest in the solar system.
Estimated to be 145 million years old, Tamu Massif's summit is located beneath about 6,500 feet of water in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the east coast of Japan. Parts of its base are believed to be in waters almost four miles deep.
Read more.

Rock fall and lucky escape

Monday 2 September 2013

Mendip Geology

Mendip Geology - this trip involving a ~ 4 hour walk from Wookey Hole to Wells has proved popular, and over subscribed, so an additional walk has been arranged for Saturday 5th October. The details are the same as posted for the original walk, and there are places available.
Click on 'September' on 'This year's field trips' page on the Bath Geological Society website to reserve your place on 5th October.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Events in September

September 5th - Bath Geological Society - NOTE CHANGE TO PROGRAMME
Using energy from Bath's Hot Springs at the Abbey
Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director, Bath Abbey
It is proposed to take hot water from the Roman Great Drain, which would otherwise flow into the river, and use it, through a heat exchanger, to heat not just the Abbey but also other surrounding buildings, as part of a district heating scheme.
7.30 p.m. BRLSI, Queen Square, Bath
Visitors welcome - £4 - free refreshments

September 8th - clearance of de la Beche SSSI site, Vallis Vale, near Frome
10.30 in large layby on the north side of the road at Hapsford Bridge BA11 3NN
GR: ST 761495. We hope to finish by about lunchtime but a packed lunch is recommended.
Sturdy footwear, waterproof and warm clothing, hardhat, handlens, and notebook.  Water if it is hot.  “Gardening equipment” (e.g. gloves, secateurs, loppers, rake, fork, etc.) It is about 500m from the cars to the site.
There will be an opportunity to explore Tedbury Camp too.

September 10th - Western Region, Geological Society
Peat Stability - Risk and Hazard Assessment
Ian Uglow, Chief Engineer - Atkins
Peat instability is a natural occurrence which is influenced by many factors including, peat thickness, hill slope gradient and subsurface hydrology. The importance of assessing the stability of peat deposits, particularly in relation to wind farm development, came to the fore as a result of a major peat failure during the construction of the Derrybrien Wind Farm in Ireland in 2003.
Although no fatalities were associated with the failure, there was a significant environmental impact and the instability highlighted the sensitive and critical nature of highland peat bogs, particularly in relation to the development of windfarms.
Ian has many years experience in geotechnical engineering and has been involved with wind farm development and peat stability for the last 8 years, mainly on sites in highland Scotland. 
Note change of Venue           
Atkins, The Hub (Ground Floor), 500 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4RZ. 6.30pm, refreshments from 6pm. Everyone welcome.

September 14th - Western Region, Geological Society
Field trip - click here for further information.

Jurassic giant fish could grow more than 16m long

Read more

Monday 26 August 2013

Want to study dinosaurs?

 If you always wanted to study dinosaurs, you will soon be able to do so online - but, alas, no field work.
This latest stage in the rapid expansion in online university education is the University of Alberta's "Dino 101" course. Students at the university can take the same course and count it as a credit towards a palaeontology degree. The online course materials will use interactive techniques developed for the gaming industry. The course in dinosaur palaeobiology will be available from September through the California-based Coursera online network, which has gathered 4.2 million students and 86 universities and other partners since it launched last year.
Read more.

Danger from Space?

The discovery that a colossal solar flare hit Earth in the Dark Ages reminds us that catastrophe could strike at any time.
Read more.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Fracking again - -

 Scientific view from the Geological Society
 Good scientific (unbiased) discussion by Professor Davies of Durham
 Report by the Royal Society
 The Government's position:
 Report by the House of Commons Energy Committee
The reader sending these links has been told by a number of Professors that the ready availability of pseudo data on the web has decreased the ability of students to research and analyse data and develop their own arguments. This is the first time I have encountered it for myself.

Saturday 17 August 2013

More on fracking - a balanced view

Sent by another reader:- The fracking links post of August 14th open up a can of worms. The links are to Ingraffea - his position at Cornell is 'Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering' He is anti fracking and has published with Howarth Cornell 'Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology'
Their work has been challenged (condemned?) by at least 12 other sources - amongst them

May 2011, U.S. Dept. of Energy report: Emissions from natural gas are low compared to other fuels.
  •  'Howarth [and Ingraffea] found a large fraction of produced gas from unconventional wells never made it to end users, assumed that all of that gas was vented as methane, and thus concluded that the global warming impacts were huge. As the [Dept. of Energy] work explains, though, 62% of that gas isn't lost at all, it's used to power equipment.'
June 2011, Cornell Univ. Professor Lawrence M. Cathles "Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences"
  •  'Ingraffea's and Howarth's analysis is seriously flawed in that they significantly overestimate the fugitive emissions associated with unconventional gas extraction .....' 
  • 'The assumptions used by Howarth et al. are inappropriate and ....... their data, which the authors themselves characterize as 'limited', do not support their conclusions'.
April 2011 John Hanger, Head of the Pennsylvania Dept of Env. Protection: -
  •  'Professor Howarth's & Ingraffea's conclusion that gas emits more heat trapping gas than carbon, flies in the face of numerous life cycle studies done around the world'.
  • 'Professor Howarth & Ingraffea just adopted an extreme and false assumption of no flaring that conveniently moved the result of his life cycle analysis in the direction that he wanted'.
August 2011, Carnegie Mellon Univ. report on life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Marcellus shale production.
  • 'The GHG emission estimates shown here for Marcellus gas are similar to current domestic gas.'
  • 'For comparison purposes, Marcellus shale gas adds only 3% more emissions to the average conventional gas, which is likely within the uncertainty bounds of the study. Marcellus shale gas has lower GHG emissions relative to coal when used to generate electricity.'
  • 'Lead researcher Paula Jaramillo (with reference to Ingraffea and Howarth's paper): 'We don't think they're using credible data and some of the assumptions they're making are biased. And the comparison they make at the end, my biggest problem, is wrong.' 
Cornell organised an internal debate between Cathles and Howarth/Ingraffea over these issues.
I do not think we should publicise one side or the other in this debate. We certainly should not provide a link to a biased source. 
The only defensible link would be to
this is the regulatory authority which is currently conducting a 5 year R&D program into the impact of hydraulic fracturing. So far the news flow has not been kind to Professor Ingraffea's position.

Friday 16 August 2013

Lifelong Learning 4 day course

Field Geology in South Shropshire (Part 1)
Tutor: Dr Nick Chidlaw
Two weekends in October: 12th, 13th and 19th, 20th
10.00 am – 5.00 pm each day

In this tract of the Welsh Borderland is found some of its most attractive scenery and varied geology. Part 1 looks at rocks of Precambrian to Ordovician age: these include e.g. ancient volcanics, intrusives and reddish strata on the Stretton Hills, white quartzites near the Wrekin, and fossiliferous sandstones and shales along the Onny Valley. No prior knowledge of the area or geology is assumed.
Please note that you will need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements, with meeting time and place to be confirmed.
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 £140.00 (Concessionary fee available £112.00).
Enrolments can be made by ‘phoning 029 2087 0000 or see website.
For more information on course content and specific field locations, contact tutor.

September 14th - Huntley and Longhope, Glos

Saturday 14th September
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Leader: John Moseley, Gloucestershire Geology Trust
The WRG annual field trips are designed to be of interest to Society members working in a variety of professions including ground engineering, structural geology, palaeontology and education.  However whether you are a professional, student or just generally interested in a 5 miles leisurely and fascinating walk (with the occasional steep gradient), please feel free to come along and take part in the annual WRG field trip.
 This year’s trip will look at the challenging and complex structural geology in and around the local area of Huntley, with the obligatory pub lunch!
Confirmation of you attendance by Friday 6th September would be much appreciated.
Further details on the website.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Trym Gorges field trip cancelled - 17th August

Please note that the field trip to Trym Gorges on 17th August, organised by Bristol NATS - geology section has unfortunately had to be cancelled. This was part of the West Country Geology field trips programme

Fracking - questions and answers

A reader has sent more information about fracking
and more - - 

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Energy from Bath Hot Springs at the Abbey - September 5th

September 5th
Using energy from Bath's Hot Springs at the Abbey
Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director, Bath Abbey

 It is proposed to take hot water from the Roman Great Drain, which would otherwise flow into the river, and use it, through a heat exchanger, to heat not just the Abbey but also other surrounding buildings, as part of a district heating scheme.
Buro Happold has been working with the Bath Abbey over the last three years to facilitate redevelopment plans which include the creation of linked spaces, a dedicated choir rehearsal room and modern catering facilities.  Integral to this redevelopment is a review of the existing heating system in line with the Abbey’s vision to reduce its energy consumption.
Read more

7.30p.m. at the BRLSI, 16 Queen Square, Bath
Everyone welcome, visitors £4 - free refreshments

Thursday 18 July 2013

Ancestor's Trail - August 24th and 26th

Ancestor's Trail
24th - 26th August
Wills Memorial Building, Bristol 
This year we are celebrating the life of Alfred Russel Wallace (on the 100th anniversary of his death) and, especially considering his bio-geographical insights.
Lectures, including one by Richard Dawkins

Walk along the Quantock Hills where we 'walk the Tree of Life' in what has been described as a 'biological pilgrimage'.

Background on the Trail: Inspired by Richard Dawkins' book 'the Ancestor's Tale', we drape the Tree of Life over the Quantock Hills so that its various branches line up with the hills' many footpaths. On the day, the tips of these branches are populated by various groups of walkers, who, with a little pre-planned choreography, are guided, such that our ever-increasing band of pilgrims arrive together at a rocky beach representing our shared origins 3.8 billion years ago. 130 people took part in our last event and, along the way, we were treated to words of wisdom, poetry, art and music. The concept has been described as a 'biological pilgrimage' and raises money for biodiversity organisations. This year's charity cause is support for a life-sized statue of Alfred Russel Wallace to be placed at London's Natural History Museum.
Full details on the website.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Clearance at Tedbury Camp (and de la Beche)

Wednesday 18th - Friday 20th September - Tedbury Camp
The focus will be on 'gardening' activities (e.g. felling, lopping, trimming, weeding, strimming) and the less pleasant task of litter picking and disposal. We could also do with a tonne of gravel chippings to top-up the step profiles if any of the local quarries are prepared to deliver it, along with a mini-skip for the rubbish that won't burn.
Please come to help even if it's only for half an hour!

Reminder - 8th September - clearance at de la Beche site at Vallis Vale.
This site is in a sorry state and, considering it's an important SSSI for a fabulous unconformity, the situation is very sad.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

July 4th - Geological evolution of Gower, South Wales

'Geological evolution of Gower' will be given by Dr Geraint Owen from Swansea University on Thursday July 4th.
Further details can be found on the Bath Geological Society website.
7.30 at BRSLI, 16 Queen Square, Bath
Everyone is welcome - visitors £4 - free refreshments
This talk will be followed by a field trip to Gower, led by Dr. Owen on October 19th - further details on the website.

Monday 1 July 2013

Earthlearningidea has reached 1 million downloads!

By the end of June, over one million activities had been downloaded from the Earthlearningidea website!
Many thanks to all Earth scientists in the west country who have supported us since our launch in 2007.
It is amazing that 3 people, with no funding, can reach almost all over the world, thanks to the internet. If you are interested, have a look at 'ELI in the world' on the website.

Friday 28 June 2013

Geology in West Country JULY field trip

It is with regret that we have to cancel the field trip to Coln in July; the management has banned all future trips due to significant health and safety concerns and a change in company policy. The leader has tried to secure an alternative location  but without success so is giving as much notice as possible.
The full field trip programme for 2013 may be seen on the Bath Geological Society website.

Friday 21 June 2013

Mendip Rocks Festival 2013

Mendip Rocks Festival programme is now available to download from the Somerset Wildlife Trust website.
Lots of exciting events.

Bristol Dinosaur project

Prof. Mike Benton’s group at University of Bristol is one of seven finalists in the National Lottery Heritage Award with the Bristol Dinosaur Project. The award is based on the number of online votes that each project receives. Anyone who has come across this project might be interested in adding their vote. Details are given at the National Lottery website.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Fracking - Horizon BBC2 tonight

Iain Stewart will be talking about fracking for shale gas on Horizon this evening - BBC2 at 9.00p.m.

Saturday 8 June 2013

Rise of the Continents

New series starting on BBC2 on Sunday 9th June at 9 p.m.

Victoria Falls is a 100m-high waterfall in Southern Africa, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. For the BBC series Rise of the Continents, geologist and presenter Iain Stewart opted for the ultimate way to experience the cascade. He jumped into a rock pool at the edge of the falls, which are said to be the largest in the world, and catches a vertigo-inducing view.
In the programme Iain Stewart examines the evidence for a long-lost landmass called Pangaea - from which all modern continents originate.
Victoria Falls was formed from intense volcanic activity in an ancient landmass called Gondwanaland, almost 200 million years ago.

Friday 7 June 2013

How Britain became an Island

Dr Jenny Collier's talk was so popular yesterday evening at the Bath Geological Society meeting that we thought we would share this short video of the highlights.

Monday 3 June 2013

Thursday 6th June - How Britain became an Island

How Britain became an island
Dr. Jenny Collier, Imperial College, London
Megaflood events involving sudden discharges of exceptionally large volumes of water are rare, but can significantly affect landscape evolution, continental-scale drainage networks and climatic patterns. In this talk, Dr. Collier will present a new regional bathymetric map of part of the English Channel derived from high-resolution sonar data, which shows the morphology of the seabed in unprecedented detail. These data image a large bedrock-floored valley that contains a distinct assemblage of landforms, including streamlined islands and longitudinal erosional grooves, which are indicative of large-scale subaerial erosion by high-magnitude water discharges. The data support a megaflood model, in which breaching of a rock dam at the Dover Strait instigated catastrophic drainage of a large pro-glacial lake in the southern North Sea basin. It is suggested that this event permanently isolated Britain from mainland Europe and prompted a large-scale reorganization of river drainage patterns across northwest Europe. In turn these consequences significantly influenced the patterns of early human colonisation of Britain.
BRLSI, 16 Queen Square - 7.30 p.m. free refreshments. 
Everyone welcome - £4 for visitors
Details about the Bath Geological Society can be seen on the website.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

New EarthCache at Brown's Folly

Have you ever tried EarthCaching? It is similar to geocaching but instead of finding a box or container you find something  of interest, geological, geomorphological or environmental.
A new EarthCache has just been accepted for Site 1 of the geological trail at Brown's Folly. Please try it out and let me know how you get on.

Geology Southern Malverns/Geology & Landscape of Gloucestershire

Geology of the Southern Malverns
A Saturday day school on 22nd June, from 10am to 5pm
This course will attempt to unravel for you the complex geological history of the Malvern Complex (igneous and metamorphic rocks of late PreCambrian age) and its partially stripped-off cover of younger Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, and Permian sediments and igneous rocks. The story is dominated by movements on the Malvern Fault system – a fundamental fracture that may cut the whole thickness of the crust (30km), and which has moved in several different ways at different times, and which is responsible for bringing up the usually deeply buried basement rocks of England and Wales to the surface. Fault movements have also been responsible for the metamorphism seen in the oldest rocks, for providing pathways for magma to rise towards the surface, and for folding, faulting and uplifting the overlying sedimentary rocks into positions from where they were eroded.
The course will attempt to demonstrate the unfolding history, by looking at the relationships between rocks exposed in some of the disused quarries in the area, by noting the effects on landscape of rocks where they are unexposed, and trying to tie the whole picture together, with the help of evidence gleaned from the rocks in the laboratory; notably accurate radiometric dates, and geochemical analyses of the Malvern Complex. The last twenty-five years has seen a tremendous advance in the accuracy of our understanding, largely because careful analysis has been able to see through the geological “noise” caused by the very violent movements on the fault, with its attendant shearing and recrystallisation.
Handouts will be provided.
Further details from the website: please book at least a week in advance

Geology and Landscape of Gloucestershire and surroundings
A weekly field-based introductory course.
No previous knowledge of geology is assumed
Tuesday evenings 11th June to 23rd July 2013
Gloucestershire is one of the most geologically diverse counties in Britain,  and as a result displays an incredible variety of scenery. The aim of this field-based course is to take you towards an understanding of local scenery.  We will look at:-
- the highly diverse  rocks and their structure; and processes
- weathering, slope formation and erosion - which have combined to  produce this equally varied landscape
- the materials from  which the scenery has been sculpted
- processes that have acted upon them since the area emerged from the sea 65 million years ago (about the same time that the dinosaurs became extinct)
No special equipment is necessary, apart from stout footwear and possibly waterproofs - although we will hopefully have seven balmy  summer evenings! 
Meetings are held on Tuesdays each week meeting at 7.00 pm, finishing at 9.00 pm or later (whenever the party feels in need of refreshment !!) 
Cost: £50 for 7 week course or £9 per session
Further details from the website

Sunday 19 May 2013

Google Earth Engine

Have you tried Google Earth Engine? It shows Landsat annual timelapse images between 1984 and 2012. The following are available:-