Tuesday, 30 August 2016

I span TWO geological epochs!

It is now thought that the Anthropocene started about 1950. It has still to be formally approved - and may not be - but vigorous debate will, no doubt, ensue.

Weather bombs could help us see deep inside Earth

Using severe weather as a substitute for earthquakes! 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The problem of Medieval villages and earthquakes

An interesting article about why there was so much destruction in the recent Italian earthquake.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Geological Society - Western Regional Group - September Events

Dear all,

After a quiet summer break (in terms of our even talks and events), we are pleased to announce two events for September:

What has laboratory testing got to do with it?

20th September 2016

The Western Regional Group is pleased to invite Dr Way Way Moinet form Atkins Ltd.  Dr. Moinet will be sharing her experience modelling engineering conditions in the laboratory on different geomaterials under a variety of conditions

S H Reynolds Lecture Theatre, Bristol University
Refreshments from 6pm, for a 6.30pm start.

Download Flyer

WRG Summer Field Trip
The Avon Gorge

2pm Sunday 25th September 2016

This year’s WRGS field trip will be led by Richard Arthur. We will be meeting on the Circular Road on the Downs at the Avon Gorge Viewpoint (Sneyd Park, Bristo, BS9 1PG, where the ice cream van parks). The fieldtrip will consist of a circular walk, probably taking 2.5hrs. We will be starting at the viewpoint, walking down to the Portway, along the Portway, up Bridge Valley Road and back to the original starting point. We will see lots of exposures including dolomitic conglomerates and fossilised crinoids along Bridge Valley Road (which will be shut to road traffic) and faulting amongst others. We recommend walking/safety boots as a minimum.

After the field trip we will be travelling back into Clifton and will order food and/or pint at one of the local pubs.
The cost of the trip is FREE.
Please e-mail
 louisa.mcara@atkinsglobal.com to reserve your place.

Download Flier

Britain’s recent wet summers can be blamed on the Atlantic jet stream, says new study

Not really geological but, even so, very interesting!

Italy’s deadly earthquake is the latest in a history of destruction

Here are a couple of links about the recent Italian earthquake

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Some GA Excursions

This has come my way. The second and last items may be of interest to us.

Dear Members,

I hope you are all enjoying this spell of super Summer weather.

This is a reminder of a few of the GA field trips coming up and of course the GA Conference which is in October.  You can book for all of these events through the GA Website http://www.geologistsassociation.org.uk
Fossils in the City led by Mike Howgate Sunday 25 September at 2pm
Spend an enjoyable afternoon fossil hunting in London. Most of us will be familiar with the use of Portland Roach Stone in London buildings with its abundant Portland Screws (Aptyxiella portlandica) and Osses ‘Eds (Laevitrigonia gibbosa) but there is much else to see.
Danish Ordovician nautiloids will vie with Irish Carboniferous productids and crinoids for your attention. While German Solnhofen ammonites and belemnites abound on Fenchurch Street. Not forgetting the dinosaur footprint hidden in a back alley near Bank Underground Station.
Equipment: Suitable clothing and footwear. Hand lens, note book, camera. Cost £5

Dorset/ Devon Weekend 1 - 2 October led by Prof John Cope
The Dorset-Devon boundary coast has magnificent exposures of the transition from the desert conditions of the Late Triassic from red to green mudstones as the Triassic deserts were replaced by marine condition in the latest Triassic with marine faunas in the Penarth Group.  The latter is succeeded by Lower Jurassic fully marine rocks with a rich fauna dominated by ammonites.  The unconformably overlying Upper Greensand and Chalk cap the cliffs in the east along a spectacular landslipped coast, but are at beach level in the west where they can be examined in detail.  The trip will be based in Lyme Regis where there are many hotels, fossil shops and the Philpot Museum.   Precise locality details will depend upon the weather, but footwear providing ankle support is a must as are helmets.  There is no need for hi-vis jackets. Cost £15

Geology and Coastal Change around Selsey West Sussex led by David Bone Saturday 8 October
An excursion around the Selsey area looking at coastal changes illustrated by Ice Age erratics, raised beaches, lost medieval harbours, offshore quarrying and the creation of one of the largest managed retreat and coastal realignment schemes in recent years. A wide-ranging day covering geology, landscape, archaeology and local history.
Equipment: Suitable clothing and footwear. Hand lens, note book, camera. Pub or packed, Cost £5

GA Annual Conference, The Jurassic Coast - Geoscience and Education.  Friday 21 Conference, Field trips Saturday 22 October
Full programme details are now on our website - Book Now!

Best wishes
Sarah Stafford
Executive Secretary

Monday, 22 August 2016

Box Rock Circus is now a "Gym Level 3" for Pokemon Go!!!!

Elizabeth Devon has sent me an email telling me (and you) that Box Rock Circus is now a "Gym level 3" in the mobile game Pokemon Go. No doubt this is exciting news for some. 

Before I get too far into grumpy old man mode I will download the ?game? onto my phone and give it a go! You can get more information at, and through, http://www.boxrockcircus.org.uk/

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Giant ancient supervolcanoes threw rock right across Australia

Zircon crystals found in Western Australia thought to have come from the north east coast of the continent. 

Actually not rocks - zircon crystals!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Proposed Course by Nick Chidlaw:-

"Geological Connections Using Hand Specimens"

Sandi Shallcross has forwarded this to me. Sounds rather interesting.

Dear All,
I have been very pleased with the interest and availability shown in recent years of the course format ‘Geological Connections using Hand Specimens’, catering for those studying geology both formally and informally. Three such courses have been run to-date, the most recent of which was provided primarily for OU Earth Science students.  
This particular course format not only develops hand specimen identification skills, but also knowledge of the geological 
connections between the specimens. As those who have attended these courses in the past will know, it’s hard work, but it develops your powers of practical analysis and geological reasoning!  In practise, attendees enjoy the intellectual challenges involved. Details of the purpose, aim and structure of the course are given below.
Level of interest / availability
I am happy to run a ‘Connections’ course again this autumn for both those studying geology informally, as well as those on formal courses, if 
enough people can attend for viability.
The dates of this proposed indoor Connections course is:
                                                                    Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November 2016
Deadline for minimum fees to be received fees to ensure the course is viable:
                                                                      Saturday 17th September 
Please note that:
  • The course would involve analysis of a different set of specimens and geological connections to those used on previous Connections courses run to-date. If you have attended any of these past courses, you will be seeing new specimens and connections
  • It is not necessary for you to have attended any of the previous courses in order to successfully complete the one offered this year
Many thanks for your attention to this proposal. 
If you have any queries, do let me know.
Hope to hear from you soon.

Course proposal

The central purpose is to develop in attendees an awareness of the connections which are found in the geological record between rocks, minerals and fossils. Such connections occur as geological processes take place: for example, certain rocks, minerals and fossils characterize the deposits laid down in a shallow, clear tropical sea; other rock and mineral types are indicative of thermal metamorphism around a felsic magma intrusion. Furthermore, within each process, it may be possible to discern an order of formation of these rocks, minerals and fossils over time : so, for example, with thermal metamorphism around a felsic intrusion, the unaffected rock into which the felsic magma was intruded was clearly present first, before it was metamorphosed by the intruding magma, the latter finally cooling and crystallizing out to form solid rock.          

The aim of the course would be to achieve the course’s purpose by attendees analyzing and identifying hand specimens provided, then using the evidence accumulated from these analyses, to connect the specimens to several geological processes as stated by the tutor . Handout materials would be provided and consulted by attendees to enable this process of systematic ‘inductive’ reasoning. I would also be on hand to see how each attendee is progressing, and to provide guidance as and when required. Attendees may wish to work on their own, or if preferred, in small groups. Discussion between attendees would be encouraged. A list of suitable reference books would be provided in advance, so that attendees may bring copies they might have / borrow themselves, for use on the course. Copies of some of these books would also be brought by the tutor, for attendees to use.  

An informal lecture by the tutor using powerpoint slides and whiteboard would be given in the last 2 hours of the course, in order to provide attendees with correct identifications of all hand specimens, and their allocation to each stated process. Examples of each process from the geological record will be described, for illustration.

On completion of the course, attendees would have a new / better appreciation of the set of geological processes focused on, and the legacy of these processes as manifest in the rock record. This should prove useful in the future, when attendees may be studying geology in the field and recognise the types of geological connections they have studied; equally, when reading about geological processes in books, the experience on the course of handling specimens and learning how they may be connected through such processes, should prove helpful in understanding.    

Items you would need to bring
An A4 pad of drawing paper, pens (including a black one that produces a good strong line for completing your drawings), pencils, rubber, a ‘copper’ coin, a steel pen knife, a hand lens (x10 magnification), metric ruler. If you can obtain some dilute (10%) hydrochloric or acetic acid, a steel file, and a magnet, they would be useful (but not essential). Good light is of paramount importance in doing this work – bringing a desk lamp for your own use would be very useful to avoid eyestrain if ambient light is poor. Hand lenses can be purchased from opticians, or specialized geological suppliers e.g. ‘Geosupplies’ tel. 0114 245 5746.      

Details and length of the course
The course would focus on commonly-occurring geological processes, with a total of 16 hand specimen types provided to allocate to these 4 processes. In many cases more than one specimen of each type would be available to study. These 4 processes would be stated at the start of the course, and the number of specimen types to be allocated to each process would also be given . Some specimens would be allocated to more than one process. The task attendees then would have is to:

·                 firstly analyse systematically each specimen they choose, as on the hand specimen course(s) they have attended previously, and come to a conclusion(s) as to what it is.
·                 secondly look through the handouts / books provided, for background information, and begin to consider which of the 4 stated geological processes each specimen is likely to belong to.  
·                 thirdly, through accumulation of data on all the specimens analysed, work out for each of the geological processes, any order of formation over time that may be discernible, of the specimens analysed.

There would be nothing misleading built in to this inductive procedure: the course aims to develop in attendees good observation, logical thinking, and confidence.

Using 16 hand specimen types, I propose that an average of 30 minutes is spent on analyzing each specimen. This would total 8 hours; time would then be needed to decide on the connections between the specimens studied and the 4 stated processes, and any order in time these specimens may be connected together. The time for this I propose would be 30 minutes on each of the 4 stated processes, totalling 2 hours. Together with the summary 2 hour lecture, this amounts of a course of 12 hours in length , similar to that used on the hand specimens courses. Like the latter, it is proposed that the course is run on 1 weekend: a Saturday and Sunday, using 6 hours on each day. The 6 hours on each day would be 10.00 am – 1.00 pm, and 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm, with a 1 hour lunch break between.

It is important to note that there would be no pressure for attendees to work to the average of 1 specimen per 30 minutes. Everybody would work at their own pace quality is far more important than quantityIt would be far better to analyse a lower number of specimens well, and make some well-reasoned connections (where evident in their time order) to the 4 geological processes, than many more poorly-analysed specimens with rushed and poorly-reasoned conclusions. The informal lecture towards the end of the course will allow all attendees to know the correct identifications of all specimens, how they are connected, and which of these groups of connected specimens are allocated, in their time order where evident, to which of the 4 processes.    

Venue for the course
It is proposed that if the course becomes viable, it is based at The Chantry, Thornbury, in South Gloucestershire. This is an excellent venue I have used for a number of indoor courses before. Details of the venue and its location can be seen at https://www.thechantry.org.uk

Proposed date
Saturday 12th / Sunday 13th November 2016

Tuition fee per person
£42.00 per person

Payment of tuition fee
Cheque payable to me sent to: 8, Silver Street, Dursley, Glos. GL11 4ND. Bank Trans can also be arranged – let me know if you wish to do this.

Number of course attendees for viability
Minimum of 10 enrolments or fee equivalent. Maximum of 20.  

Fees Deadline for viability

Minimum of 10 enrolments to be received by:

Saturday 17th September

Should the minimum of enrolments not be reached, the course will be cancelled and fees received will be returned shortly afterwards to those who have sent them in. If the minimum of fees is received, those who have enrolled will be notified that the course is to run; enrolments will be able to continue up to 2 weeks before the course runs, i.e. up to 29th October.  

If the course becomes viable, I will advise attendees who are travelling beyond commuting distance of sources of information for them to book accommodation suitable for their own preferences and budget.   

World's oldest ocean crust dates back to ancient supercontinent

The oldest patch of undisturbed oceanic crust on Earth may lie deep beneath the eastern Mediterranean Sea – and at about 340 million years old, it beats the previous record by more than 100 million years.

Or perhaps not.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The volcanoes no one has ever seen

Pillow lavas like these are only formed when lava erupts into water. Here they are covered with a dusting of deep sea sediment (Credit: GEOMAR)

The outstanding thing about this is the quality of the pictures. Thanks to Isobel Buckingham for the link

Friday, 12 August 2016

Newfoundland’s Ediacaran biota gets World Heritage status

From seabed to seabed – the Ediacaran age strata of Newfoundland’s Mistaken Point were originally deposited on the seabed some 565 million years ago and are now being worn away by Atlantic waves. (photo courtesy of Dr Emily Mitchel)

Coincidentally this will be the subject of a lecture given by Dr Liu at Bath on November 3 and at WEGA in 2017

Rainbow cake mountains show stunning slices of colour

I suspect the colours have been improved (note the pinkish tinge to the road!) but it is one of the places I would like to go to!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

30+ Photos That Prove Being A Geologist Is The Best Job In The World

Some nice photos. And, from my experience, not wholly inaccurate.

Is this the first deep soil?

This article discusses a paper describing something which looks like a deep soil but formed before the development of trees.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Implications of Jade Axe Heads, from the Italian Alps, found in Scotland

Not particularly geological but still fascinating!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Visualisation of Plate Tectonics

An up to date video of how the earth has moved since the break up of Pangea. You can change the globe to a map, zoom in and lots of other things. Hours of innocent fun! And have a look at the reference.

Geomythology: Can geologists relate ancient stories of great floods to real events?

This article gives a longer perspective on the previous (or following - it depends how you look at it!) article. And it is very interesting in its own right!

First evidence of legendary China flood may rewrite history

The Jishi Gorge in northwest China's Qinghai Province  CREDIT: QINGLONG WU/NANJING NORMAL UNIVERSITY