EGS Lecture Programme

Our varied programme of illustrated lectures runs from October to Easter, on Wednesday evenings. These meetings are open to the public, there is no charge, and visitors are most welcome.

After last winter’s successful lecture programme, delivered online to larger-than-usual audiences, the programme will continue online until we can meet again at the Grant Institute. Once in-person lectures restart, we will continue to offer some lectures online or via recordings. Details of any changes will be posted here and sent out to members via the EGS News email group.

Information about the lectures, including more detailed abstracts where provided, are available below. EGS members will receive the Zoom link to lectures in the Newsletter, and by email through the EGS News email list. If you are not a member, please contact Angus Miller ( for details.

Graham Leslie, Lectures Secretary

EGS Evening Lecture Programme 2021-22

Wednesday 6 October, 6.30 pm Public Lecture at Dynamic Earth

Climate change in Edinburgh – Past, Present, Future

Full details –

Wednesday 20 October, 7 pm Dr Louis Howell, Keele Uni. and Cairn Energy

Repurposing the Carboniferous

Because of 19th and 20th century coal mining and hydrocarbon exploration, a vast quantity of subsurface data has been accumulated on Britain’s onshore Carboniferous coal-bearing strata and the basins in which accommodated them. Despite this, many of the regional (structural and geodynamic) processes which governed Carboniferous basins remain poorly understood. Here, I will present some highlights from my recent PhD studies on the early Carboniferous evolution of basins in the northern Pennines. Understanding the nature of Britain’s Coal Measures has gained renewed importance given the need to reduce carbon emissions and seek alternative sources of energy.

Wednesday 3 November, 7 pm Eimear Deady, British Geological Survey

Critical raw materials for the energy transition

Decarbonisation of energy and transport, to meet global net zero ambitions, will require significantly increased amounts of the raw materials used to manufacture batteries and other green technologies. Of significant importance are lithium, graphite, cobalt, and others which are used in battery manufacturing. Also of significance are the rare earth elements, particularly neodymium and dysprosium, used in motors of electric cars and wind turbines. It’s also important not to forget industrial commodities such as copper, which is essential for electrification. This talk will give an overview of those commodities most important to the transition, their current status and update on relevant BGS work.

Eimear is an economic geologist with research interests in critical metal mineralisation and geometallurgy, valorisation of mining waste, and mining heritage. She works on critical metal mineralisation research in Southwest England, with a focus on tungsten, bismuth and antimony in association with the Camborne School of Mines, and the EU Horizon 2020 HighTech AlkCarb Project to develop new geomodels for critical metal exploration in carbonatites and alkaline rocks.

Wednesday 17 November, 7 pm Jessica T Smith, Atkins

Engineering geology: infrastructure delivery

Engineering Geologists are central to Scotland’s delivery of major infrastructure projects and achieving Net Zero.  The fundamental importance of Engineering Geology to a range of infrastructure projects, including the A9 Dualling and the proposed Coire Glas pumped storage hydro scheme, will be explored in this talk.  These same projects provide a valuable opportunity to encourage and upskill the next generation(s) of geoscientists and other STEM professionals as exemplified by Transport Scotland’s award-winning Academy9 initiative.  The ongoing need for greater diversity in geoscience and engineering will be set out along with ways in which barriers to participation are being broken down.

Wednesday 1 December, 7 pm Dr Mark Wilkinson, University of Edinburgh

Please note in a change to our published programme, we are delighted to welcome Dr Mark Wilkinson to talk on:

Why are the Highlands high? Cenozoic uplift and erosion in Scotland

The Scottish Highlands are famous for their scenery, but is the topography a relic of the Lower Palaeozoic Caledonian Mountain chain; or is the present-day topography a result of uplift associated with the opening of the northern Atlantic Ocean in the Palaeocene? Although almost all of the exposed rocks in the Highlands are today of Devonian or older age, there are Mesozoic half-graben basins to the both the east and west of the area (the Inner Hebrides and the Moray Firth / North Sea). This has suggested that the Highlands were also once the site of Mesozoic basins, now eroded away, an idea perhaps first championed by J.W. Judd in 1878. Modern analysis of apatite fission track data has been interpreted to support this hypothesis, implying substantial post-Mesozoic uplift. A related question concerns the flint that can be found in gravels in the Central Belt and east coast of Scotland – does this imply that Cretaceous Chalk was once widespread across what are now the Highlands?

Mark Wilkinson is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, with research interests in diagenesis and geological CO2 and compressed air storage.

Wednesday 15 December, 7 pm Fellows’ Night

This meeting, close to the anniversary of the foundation of the Society, is an informal meeting with a series of short talks given by members. Fellows’ Night will be held online this year using Zoom, with the same connection arrangements as the lectures. You will need to provide your own refreshments and party hat.

If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with Chris Lofthouse on

Wednesday 19 January, 7 pm Prof Charles H Wellman, Sheffield Univ.

Life on land one-billion years ago: barren wilderness or evolutionary cradle?

The Torridonian deposits of the northwest Highlands provide a rare example of a billion-year-old sequence of terrestrial deposits, providing a critical insight into what life was like on land at this time. Fossils are represented by: (i) mat structures and trace fossils; (ii) dispersed microfossils recovered by palynological acid maceration; (iii) fossils preserved in phosphate nodules studied using thin sections. The latter represent a Lagerstätte as the fossils are exquisitely preserved in three-dimensions with labile cell contents remaining. The Torridonian fossil assemblages are surprisingly diverse, providing a snapshot of life on land at this time, and supporting the hypothesis that early life may have diversified on land rather than in the oceans.

Possible holozoan fossil from the Torridonian

Wednesday 2 February, 7 pm Dr Florian Fusseis, Edinburgh Univ.

How x-rays and neutrons allow us to challenge established concepts in tectonics

Florian is a Senior Lecturer in Structural Geology at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh. He leads process-oriented research in the related sciences of rock deformation, fluid-rock interaction and diagenetic/metamorphic processes, all with a growing interest in applied geosciences. An experienced field structural geologist, Florian is a leading developer of 4D in-situ x-ray imaging of processes in shear zones and other rock failures, e.g. in earthquake-prone regions.

Wednesday 9 February, 7 pm Kevin Smith BGS (retired)

The Forties (Rattray) Volcanic Province in the Central North Sea 1970 – 2020

Middle Jurassic volcanic rocks were discovered in the course of oil exploration in the North Sea in 1970, when the concept of plate tectonics was still in its infancy. A broad historical review reveals how subsequent interpretations of the volcanic province have benefitted not only from advances in the techniques of hydrocarbon exploration, but also from contemporaneous efforts to explain the origin and distribution of global volcanism away from plate margins. With the aid of examples from comparable mid-plate volcanic areas of various stratigraphic ages in Scotland and North Africa, a new synthesis of previous work is presented which raises doubts about recently proposed alternative models of North Sea volcanism and tectonics during the Jurassic.

Wednesday 16 February, 7 pm MIS/EGS Joint lecture: Mark Austin, Alba Minerals

Clogau Gold Mine exploration, North Wales

The Clogau-St David’s Gold Mine in Wales is the source of most of the UK’s gold, mined historically from very rich gold seams. Alba’s technical team are applying a multi-disciplinary approach, employing modern exploration tools such as 3D scanning & mine modelling, drilling from both the surface and underground, geochemistry, and geophysics. Mark has a career spanning four decades with a particular focus on gold.

Wednesday 2 March, 7 pm Clough Medal Lecture: Dr Tim Smithson, Zoology, Cambridge Univ.

A new beginning: recent discoveries in the early Carboniferous of northern Britain reveal rapid faunal replacement following the end-Devonian extinction

The end-Devonian extinction event marked a profound change in the diversity of vertebrates. The dominant Devonian taxa, the acanthodians, placoderms and sarcopterygians were suddenly replaced by minor components of the fauna, the actinopterygians, chondrichthyans and tetrapods. This replacement began in the early Carboniferous, coinciding with a fossil impoverished interval called Romer’s Gap, and evidence for it has been poor. Here we will consider how recent discoveries in the Ballagan Formation of northern Britain have shown that vertebrates recovered quickly following the end-Devonian extinction. Diversity was much greater than previously recognised and Romer’s Gap is an artefact of previous unsuccessful collecting.

Wednesday 16 March, AGM 7 pm, Lecture 7.30 pm Kit Hardman, Hull Univ.

The geology and evolution of near-surface fissure systems in Calabria, Itlay and other areas

Kit currently manages the Laser Ablation ICP-MS Lab at the University of Hull where he analyses a variety of materials on behalf of industry and academia. His personal focus is on developing techniques for radiometric dating of deformed geological fabrics.

Wednesday 30 March, 7 pm Prof Mark D Bateman, Sheffield Univ.

The day a tsunami hit Scotland

Around 8150 years ago a huge submarine landslide caused a tsunami that hit many countries bordering the North Sea. Geological evidence shows that over 600 km of Scottish coastline were affected. This talk will look at what caused the tsunami, where it impacted and how sedimentological evidence has helped understand the number, direction and relative power of the tsunami waves. Modelling constrained by sedimentary evidence shows on the east coast of Scotland multiple waves over 6 m high penetrated >30 km inland flooding areas up to 11 m above sea level. Could this disaster happen again to Scotland?

EGS Recorded Lectures 2021-22

Our YouTube Channel | Lectures Playlist

EGS Recorded Lectures 2020-21

Our YouTube Channel | Lectures Playlist