Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Oxford Colloquium - March 16th

The Oxford Colloquium is an amazing one-day event based at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  The Oxford Colloquium gives you the opportunity to attend six lectures given by eminent speakers from distinguished UK academic and research institutions. The topics are drawn from across the Earth Sciences. This year, despite the Museum being closed to the general public, the Oxford Colloquium will be held on Saturday March 16.  Our line-up of speakers this year is truly stellar:
Professor John Tellam (University of Birmingham) 'Nano particles in sandstone groundwaters'
Professor Simon Conway Morris (University of Cambridge)  'The Cambrian explosion & re-running the tape of life: what really happens?'
Professor Peter Burgess (Royal Holloway, University of London)   'Numbers, models and layered rocks'
Professor Martin Siegert (University of Bristol)   'Exploration of sub-glacial Lake Ellsworth, West Antarctica'
Dr. Dave Waters (University of Oxford)  'Building Mount Everest: the inside story'
Dr. Richard Walker (University of Oxford)  Earthquakes on an urban world: challenges for the 21st Century.'
In addition Professor Paul Smith (Oxford) and Professor Derek Siveter (Oxford) will be demonstrating  specimens from the Sirius Passet and Chengjiang Cambrian Lagerst├Ątten and Dr Monica Price will be showing off the Wager Collection in all its glory.
You can learn more about the Oxford Colloquium by visiting our website.
You can purchase tickets at £15 each in person from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History shop, the offices of the Geologists' Association, Burlington House, Piccadilly and at one of the monthly lecture meetings of the Oxford Geology Group. Alternatively you can email Alison Saunders and purchase your tickets by post.

On the trail of the dinosaur rustlers

Dinosaur fossils are big business, with complete skeletons fetching millions. And that much cash attracts swindlers – whose illegal trade damages science in its wake.
The skeleton purported to be that of a Tarbosaurus bataar
seized by US authorities after fetching a price of $1m. 
It turned out to contain bones of several species. 
Photograph: Heritage Auctions, New York

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Himalayan mysteries and Brown's Folly

Bath Geological Society invite you to:-
February 7th - Unravelling the mysteries on the eastern Himalaya by Catherine Mottram, Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems, The Open University
The collision of India and Asia, which began around 50 Ma, resulted in the formation of some of the largest and most dramatic mountains in the world: the Himalayas. Geologists have long been drawn to the soaring heights of these mountains, in order to understand the processes of continental collision and mountain building. There are several structures in the Himalayas which have been fundamental in facilitating the deformation caused by the collision of the two continents. The Main Central Thrust (MCT) is one of these key tectonic structures which spans over 2500 km along the length of these majestic mountains.
This talk is preceded by the BATH G.S. A.G.M.
BRLSI, Queen Square, Bath at 7.00 p.m. Everyone is welcome - £4 for visitors - free refreshments.

February 16th - Brown's Folly (one of the West Country Geology Field Trips)
This is our annual clear-up of the Geological sites on this SSSI reserve. Come along with gardening tools or just take the opportunity to visit the sites and talk about geology. Elizabeth Devon will lead a walk around the reserve.
Meet at 10.30 a.m. at Brown's Folly Car Park (G.R. ST 798663). Strong boots and waterproofs are required. Hard hats should be worn under or near exposures. Please bring one if you can; we do have some available. 
Full details of all the Society's events are on the website.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Western Region GS - NO meeting tonight

Proposed AGM postponed
Due to not being able to secure a speaker for this evening we have to postpone our proposed event.  We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause you.
Our next scheduled meeting is on February 19th, and we shall endeavour to bring you a talk on that date, as well as re-schedule the AGM for this date.
If you would be interested in talking for us in future, please get in touch.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Earthquakes and art

A sand tracing pendulum, in Washington, USA, produced some very interesting patterns after an earthquake of magnitude 6.8. The smooth curves you can see on the outside are what you normally see when someone sets the pendulum in motion to make a tracing ... without seismic assistance. The earthquake's handiwork is the design in the centre.
The motions caused by the earthquake moving the pendulum's base started small, and the initial tracings were overwritten as the strength of the ground's motion increased. Once everything started to slow down after the shaking stopped, the pendulum slowed to a stop, gradually "writing" the pattern in tighter circles as it moved back to its natural centre. If you look at it closely, you can see that the pendulum was apparently centreing in one spot, and then moved a final time to come to rest in a slightly different location. This may be explained by last minute settling in the ground.
It's interesting to think that such a massive and very destructive release of energy can also contain such delicate artistry within its chaos. 

Friday, 18 January 2013

West Country Geology Field Trips

As most of you know, Bath Geological Society, Bristol Nats Geologists and WEGA (West of England Geologists' Association) have joined forces to produce the field programme for 2013. All members of all these organisations are welcome to join the field trips and, of course, visitors are welcome for a small fee. Each field trip will be run by the group which is organising it.
The final field trip for September has just been added to the list so please look again!
Full details of the trips can be seen here.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

22nd January AGM

We would to invite the membership to the AGM, which will be held next Tuesday, 22nd January.  The AGM will be followed by a shorter talk, subject to be confirmed.
Venue: S H Reynolds Lecture Theatre (Room G25), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol

Photo Competition & Early Career Geologist Award (ECGA)
We would also like to encourage more submissions for the photo competition and ECGA which are running this quarter.


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

A few places have unexpectedly become available on this trip.
Further into here

Are wind turbines really eco-friendly?

Read more

Saturday, 12 January 2013

15th January - Three talks from Bristol PhD students

WEGA is hosting this event in the Wills Memorial Building, Bristol on 15th January at 7.30 p.m.
Everyone is welcome.

Carbon mitigation could increase ozone

A team from Lancaster University has poured cold water on Europe’s plan to increase the biomass it uses in electricity production, saying that while non-fossil fuels can improve the carbon picture, it comes at the cost of air quality on the ground.
The problem is that many of the forest crops that are favoured for biomass can increase ozone down at ground level. Poplar, willow and eucalyptus trees – all fast-growing and relatively high-yield sources of biomass for conversion into fuel – emit high levels of isoprene while they’re growing. When this mixes with other pollutants in sunlight, isoprene forms ozone. Ozone causes an estimated 22,000 deaths annually in Europe and a European plan to expand tree plantations under a plan to ramp up its biomass use could add another 1,400 deaths to the list. Ozone from the plantations could reduce wheat and maize output since ozone impairs crop growth. Trees could be genetically engineered to reduce isoprene emissions, and plantations should be located away from urban pollution.
Read more

Sunday, 6 January 2013

June 2013 - Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire

Lifelong Learning 4 day course
Precambrian Geology at Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire  
Tutor: Dr Nick Chidlaw
Saturday 22nd – Tuesday 25th June 2013
10.00 am – 5.00 pm each day

In the eastern English Midlands, the generally subdued relief is conspicuously interrupted by the craggy, locally-wooded hills of Charnwood Forest, a few miles north-west of Leicester. Here are found rocks formed from explosive volcanic eruptions about 600 million years ago, together with lavas and igneous intrusions. Within rocks that were once volcanic ashes have been found world-famous fossil sea pens and jellyfish, pre-dating the earliest known shelly fossils.
No prior knowledge of geology or the area is assumed. Attendees arrange their own travel arrangements, meals and accommodation – tutor can provide advice.
Meeting location 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 visiting the website
For more information on the course contact tutor.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Meteorite from Mars

A Martian meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, contains more water than any other rock found from the Red Planet. The space stone, discovered in Morocco, is believed to come from the Martian crust 2.1 billion years ago. It weighs about 320g and has 10 times more water than other Martian rocks. Black Beauty is made up of cemented fragments of basalt, mostly feldspar and pyroxene, most likely from volcanic activity.
It tells us what volcanism was like on Mars two billion years ago. It also gives us a glimpse of ancient surface and environmental conditions on Mars that no other meteorite has ever offered. It is believed that the large water content comes from the interaction of water-logged rocks in Mars’ crust. The rock also has a different mixture of oxygen isotopes than most Martian meteorites, which could have come from interaction with the planet’s atmosphere.
Read more

The Ediacran fossils: a big surprise

The first macroscopic life forms were the enigmatic bag-like and quilted fossils in sedimentary rocks dating back to 635 Ma in Australia, eastern Canada and NW Europe. They are grouped as the Ediacaran Fauna named after the Ediacara Hills in South Australia where they are most common and diverse. Generally they are not body fossils but impressions of soft-bodied organisms, often in sandstones rather than muds. Some are believed to be animals that absorbed nutrients through their skin, whereas others are subjects of speculation. One thing seems clear; these first metazoans arose because of some kind of trigger provided by the global glacial conditions that preceded their appearance. It has always been assumed that, whatever they were, Ediacaran organisms lived on the sea floor, probably in shallow water.
New sedimentological evidence found in the type locality by Gregory Retallack of the University of Oregon seems set to force a complete rethink about these hugely important life forms. So momentous are his conclusions that they form the subject of a Nature editorial in the 13 December 2012 issue.
Retallack, a specialist on ancient soils of the Precambrian, examined reddish facies of the Ediacara Member of the Rawnsley Quartzite of South Australia, whose previous interpretation have a somewhat odd background. Originally regarded as non-marine, before their fossils were discovered, when traces of jellyfish-like organisms turned up this view was reversed to marine, the red coloration being ascribed to deep Cretaceous weathering. A range of features, such as clasts of red facies in grey Ediacaran rocks, the presence of feldspar in the red facies – unlikely to have survived deep weathering – bedding surfaces with textures very like those formed by subaerial biofilms, and desiccation cracks, suggest to Retallack that the red facies represents palaeosols in the sedimentary sequence. Moreover, some features indicate a land surface prone to freezing from time to time. The key observation is that this facies contains Ediacaran trace fossils representing many of the forms previously regarded as marine animals of some kind, including Spriggina, Dickinsonia and Charnia  on which most palaeontologists would bet good money that they were animals, albeit enigmatic ones.

Dickinsonia (credit:Wikipedia)

If Retallack’s sedimentological observations are confirmed then organisms found in the palaeosols cannot have been animals but perhaps akin to lichens or colonial microbes, and survived freezing conditions. As they occur in other facies more likely to be subaqueous, then they were ‘at home’ in a variety of ecosystems. 
As the Nature editorial reminds us, from the near-certainty that early macroscopic life was marine there is a chance that views will have to revert to a terrestrial emergence first suggested in the 1950s by Jane Grey. Uncomfortable times lie ahead for the palaeontological world.

This article is from 'earth -pages - Research News from the Earth Sciences'. 
This site has been added to 'Geology blogs' on the right-hand side of this blog.