varied programme of illustrated lectures runs from October to Easter. Speakers
and topics are carefully chosen to provide interest for both the amateur and professional
These meetings also provide an informal opportunity
to chat to other members, and to gain advice from local experts on visiting geological
localities. Each year, a celebrity lecture is given by a geologist of international
repute, who is invited jointly by the Society and the Geological Society of Glasgow.
At the annual Fellows' Night, members can give accounts of their own geological
interests, specimens or travels.
are usually on Wednesday evenings at 7.30 pm. These meetings are open to the public,
there is no charge, and visitors are most welcome. Tea and biscuits, also at no
charge, are served following the lecture in the Cockburn Museum of the Grant Institute.The
lectures usually take place in the Hutton Lecture Theatre in the Grant Institute
of Geology, on the University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings campus.
a map of the campus.
October Andy Dugmore University of Edinburgh Well-adapted, communal practitioners
of environmental sustainability, but still extinct: poignant messages from the
end of Norse Greenland abstract below
30 October Graham
Leslie BGS Edinburgh Accretion and tectonic amalgamation in East Avalonia
– a geological evolution of Ynys Môn (President’s Lecture) abstract
13 November Mike Bentley University of Durham The Antarctic
ice sheet and climate change abstract below
Dave Schofield BGS Cardiff The problem with terranes: accretionary tectonics
in southern Britain abstract below
11 December Fellows’
Night & Social Evening at BGS, Murchison House, Edinburgh. This meeting, close
to the anniversary of the founding of the Society, is a chance to meet other members
of the Society informally, with a series of short talks given by members, followed
by a wine and cheese reception, expertly selected by John Mendum. (Soft drinks
will be available.) Booking for the event is not required and tickets will not
be sold in advance, but those wishing to stay for the Reception are asked to pay
£6 on the night. list of speakers below
09 January Professor
Chris Hawkesworth, University of St Andrews The Evolution of the Continental
Crust: the isotope legacy - Joint celebrity lecture IN GLASGOW. Gregory
Building, Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow University 7:30pm abstract
15 January Dougal Jerram, DougalEarth Consulting In the
footsteps of Powell: The Grand Canyon Geology by wooden boat! abstract
29 January Professor Zoe Shipton, University of Strathclyde
UK Shale gas: frack on, frack off or frack well? abstract below
February John Crone, formerly Development Geologist, Scottish Coal Company
Ltd The geology and history of surface mining in east Ayrshire - Joint Mining
Institute of Scotland lecture hosted by the MIS in the Murchison House Common
Room abstract below
26 February Professor Tony Fallick,
SUERC - Clough Medal Lecture Planet Earth’s Mid-Life Crisis
12 March Professor Jane Evans, NIGL Tracing visitors to
our shores: the application of isotope analysis to archaeological human migration
studies. abstract below
26 March Dr Kathryn Goodenough,
BGS The global critical metals hunt abstract below
communal practitioners of environmental sustainability, but still extinct: poignant
messages from the end of Norse Greenland
Greenland is seen as an iconic case of failure in the face of climate change.
A cautionary tale of how mal-adapted and inflexible European settlers pushed into
the Arctic during the Medieval Warm period, only to die horribly during the Little
Ice Age as a result of their unsustainable practises, unwillingness to change
and rejection of the alternative life ways practised by the Inuit. I will argue
that this rather comfortable narrative is wrong and that the Norse Greenlanders
created a flexible and successful subsistence system that responded effectively
to major environmental challenges over multi-century timescales. Ultimately, they
probably fell victim to a combination of conjunctures of large-scale historic
processes and vulnerabilities created by their successful prior response to climate
change. Their failure was because they could not anticipate an unknowable future,
their inability to broaden their traditional ecological knowledge base, and a
case of being too specialized, too small, and too isolated to be able to capitalize
on and compete in the new protoworld system extending into the North Atlantic
in the early 15th century.
Leslie BGS Edinburgh
Accretion and tectonic amalgamation in East Avalonia
– a geological evolution of Ynys Môn (President’s Lecture)
Greenly viewed the older schists and quartzites of Anglesey with great trepidation
perhaps with great foresight. Some 100 years on, it is now apparent that
Late Neoprot-erozoic accretion at the outboard margin of East Avalonia is recorded
on Anglesey in ca. 650 Ma metamorphism in the Coedana Complex, the ca. 615 Ma
supra-subduction zone Coedana Granite, and ca. 560 Ma exhumation of the Penmynydd
Zone blueschists. Thrusting complexity upon complexity however, Angleseys
present architecture is largely a product of repeated cycles of accretionary tectonics
against peri-Gondwana that commenced in the Early Ordovician when coaxial to intensely
non-coaxial SE-vergent deformation assembled the Late Neoproterozoic rocks with
the Middle Cambrian (to earliest? Ordovician) Monian Supergroup. This cycle is
consistent with Penobscottian accretion in the northern Appalachians. Those Monian
rocks were at surface (and deeply weathered?) before sub-aerial eruption of the
(early Arenig?) ca. 300 m thick, acid Church Bay Tuff Formation. The tuffs are
overlain unconformably by a Middle Ordovician to early Silurian marine foreland
basin succession now arranged, with its basement, in a SE-vergent (Salinic?) thrust
stack. All of that orogenesis pre-dates Acadian deformation recorded in Devonian
strata on Anglesey.
Mike Bentley Department of Geography, University of Durham
Ice Sheets and Climate Change
The Antarctic Ice Sheets
hold enough ice to raise global sea level by more than 60m and so the continent
has been a focus for recent concerns about the magnitude and rate of future sea
level rise. This lecture will explain the geology and glaciology that underpins
these concerns, and will discuss the latest results of research on the stability
of, and recent changes to, these ice sheets. Current studies include satellite
remote sensing, work from aircraft, and ground-based geological work. The behaviour
of the ice sheets is complex and the processes occurring in the West and East
Antarctic Ice Sheets are very different. The net effect of these different, and
sometimes opposing effects, is that the ice sheet is currently shrinking, and
so is adding to the global sea level rise from other sources. The lecture will
end with an outlook on future changes in the Antarctic Ice Sheets.
Schofield BGS Cardiff
The problem with terranes: accretionary tectonics
in southern Britain
During the 1970’s, the recognition
of allochthonous terranes as discrete lithospheric fragments gave geologists a
new tool kit to help describe the mosaic-like complexity of orogenic belts. Understanding
that terranes could be dispersed and recombined accompanied realisation that strike-slip
translation contributed significantly to orogenic development. In applying this
to understanding the largely concealed, late Neoproterozoic and Lower Palaeozoic
record of southern Britain, conflicts in nomenclature, scales of observation and
focus of the geologists themselves has led to a confusing picture where terranes
are essentially reduced to snapshots in time rather than lithospheric entities
evolving in both time and space. This talk takes a look at this problem and uses
summaries of isotopic data to contrast Neoproterozoic rocks with their Cambrian
cover successions in southern Britain and those in the Caledonian-Appalachian
Orogen as a whole, and looks at when the component terranes may have been assembled
and largely stabilised.
John Mendum - "Southwest Australia
- Tectonics on a continental edge"
Al McGowan - "To the top of
the world to explore the end of an Era :Studying the Permian-Triassic mass extinction
Prof Brian Upton - "Treaures from the bowels of the
Earth: the Loch Roag dyke"
David Milward "Conquering the land
- 360 million years ago - a brief introduction to the TW:eed project"
Chris Hawkesworth, University of St Andrews
The Evolution of the Continental
Crust: the isotope legacy
Joint ‘celebrity’ lecture IN GLASGOW
discovery of radioactivity changed our understanding of the thermal evolution
of the Earth, and provided ways to determine the age of the Earth and time scales
of geological change. Isotopes were first described by Soddy in 1913, and much
later the high precision measurement of radiogenic isotope ratios markedly changed
the study of the continental crust. The discussions shifted from the movement
of continents, and how they once fitted together, to models for when and how the
continents formed, and the evolution of the Earths crust and mantle. The
continental crust is characterised by peaks in the distribution of U-Pb crystallization
ages, and these coincide with the ages of super-continents. Such peaks may reflect
periods of high magmatic activity or, as argued here, the preservation potential
of magmatic rocks in different tectonic settings. The peaks marked times of increased
preservation within the crust, rather than times of anomalously high volumes of
magma generation. Even though <5% of present continental crust is older than
3 Ga, there is increasing evidence that ~60-70% of the present volume of the continental
crust had been generated by that time.
Jerram, DougalEarth Consulting
In the footsteps of Powell: The Grand
Canyon Geology by wooden boat!
In 1869, 9 men entered
the unknown and unmapped Grand Canyon on 3 wooden boats. They recorded the landscape,
the geology and the river for the first time, and by the end of their exploration
six men emerged from the Canyon. In 2013 9 men in three wooden boats entered the
Grand Canyon on a new expedition, to follow in the footsteps of the 1869 expedition,
for a BBC production. I took part in this expedition and will take you through
the journey and the geology of the Grand Canyon as experienced on a Powell Boat.
Zoe Shipton, University of Strathclyde
UK Shale gas: frack on, frack off
or frack well?
In the UK, public concern about hydraulic
fracturing for shale gas (fracking) was triggered by low magnitude earth tremors
induced by exploratory activities in Lancashire in April 2011. The resulting embargo
on fracking for shale gas was lifted by DECC in Dec 2012. Campaign groups such
as Frack Off argue that shale gas extraction could produce significant environmental
damage, whereas proponents of the shale gas industry argue that an indigenous
source of UK gas will enhance energy security and may result in falling household
energy bills. Indeed it is now possible to buy Keep calm and frack on
T-shirts on the web! In this talk I will argue that it should be possible to frack
well - i.e. extract potentially considerable shale gas resources in the
least environmentally damaging way. A Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering
working group report on Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of the
scientific and engineering evidence investigated the major risks associated
with fracking and asked how these risks can be effectively managed. The report
found that the health and safety and environmental risks associated with fracking
for shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best
practices are implemented and enforced through legislation. The risk of groundwater
contamination (both from natural gas and water and from fracking fluids) via hydraulic
fractures is very low. Seismicity is also a very low risk, and where it does occur
is likely to be at magnitudes less than those regularly felt near abandoned coalfields.
Ensuring borehole integrity must be the highest priority to prevent groundwater
and surface contamination. The joint academies report recommended implementing
robust monitoring systems to address uncertainties in the subsurface process and
to strengthen public confidence. If we can convince the public that it is possible
to frack well, shale gas has a place as a bridge between traditional,
declining fossil fuels and renewables.
Crone, formerly Development Geologist, Scottish Coal Company Ltd.
geology and history of surface mining in east Ayrshire - Joint Mining Institute
of Scotland lecture hosted by the MIS in the Murchison House Common Room
Ayrshire has a long history of surface mining for coal and to a lesser extent
for ironstone. In recent times production here accounted for nearly 50% of all
coal mined in Scotland. This talk outlines the geology of the coalfields and describes
how the industry developed over the years alongside deep mine operations.
structures encountered are discussed, together with how the variable characteristics
of the coal seams can be further affected by igneous intrusion and lime burning.
Reference will be made to exploration techniques and working site operations.
John Crone was born in London and graduated in geology from the University of
Nottingham. He joined the NCB Opencast Executive in 1970 based in Durham and was
subsequently appointed Area Opencast Geologist in Ayrshire in 1977. He remained
in Ayrshire and the coal industry up to and after privatisation, latterly as a
development geologist for the Scottish Coal Company based at Broken Cross in Lanarkshire.
He retired in 2013.
Tony Fallick, SUERC Clough Medal Lecture
Planet Earths Mid-Life
Approximately half way through its
4.6 billion year history, a series of major upheavals affected our planet. Amongst
these were the first known global glaciation (the Huronian), the establishment
of free oxygen in the atmosphere/ocean (referred to by Lovelock as the greatest
pollution event of all time), a major change in seawater chemistry (relatively
abundant dissolved sulphate), an unprecedented positive excursion in the stable
carbon isotopic composition of marine carbonate, the earliest known significant
oil generation (the Shunga event), and fundamental changes to the operation of
The Archaean-Proterozoic transition was a crucial step in
the eventual establishment of the modern earth system, and rocks spanning this
period were the target of a major International Continental Drilling Program in
Fennoscandian Russia. The context to the study will be explained, early results
will be assessed, and some of the new ideas which have emerged will be introduced.
Jane Evans, NIGL
Tracing visitors to our shores: the application of isotope
analysis to archaeological human migration studies.
you excavate a burial which contains a beautiful Germanic brooch, can you conclude
that the person is of continental origin, or simply that a German brooch was brought
in Britain? It is one of the big questions in archaeology: Do people move or do
artefacts move? On a larger scale; was there a large influx of Saxons/Romans/Vikings
into Britain who settled here and change the culture, or did a few individual,
and their contacts, change the social habits of the indigenous population?
analysis is providing a method of addressing these questions because we can look
at the composition of someones tooth and determine whether they came from
the area in which they are buried, or if they are from elsewhere. The strontium
isotope composition can be used to relate a person, via geology, to the land on
which they lived and derived their food, whereas oxygen isotopes reflect the climate
zone in which they were raised. Together, these two fingerprints are
providing us with new insights into the behaviour and movement of people in the
This talk explains the methods we use and presents case studies of
recent excavations such as the Vikings from Weymouth, the Archer from Stonehenge
and Richard III.
Kathryn Goodenough, BGS
The global critical metals hunt
critical metals are those metals used in a range of new technologies, for which
demand is increasing and there are potential threats to security of supply. Examples
of critical metals include the Rare Earth Elements, niobium and tantalum, which
are used in a range of applications such as high-strength magnets, batteries,
capacitors and corrosion-resistant alloys. At BGS, we are researching the processes
by which these metals are concentrated in the crust, using examples in the UK
and abroad. We have studied a number of different igneous suites to investigate
the importance of magmatic and hydrothermal processes in critical metal mineralisation.
This talk will describe some of the geological environments in which these metals
are found, and will consider the problems in mining them. The talk will be illustrated
by field examples from Scotland, Greenland, Nigeria and Madagascar.