EGS Evening Lectures

Our Lectures are held on alternate Wednesday evenings during the winter. These are free and aimed at anyone with an interest in Earth science. Afterwards, you can join the speaker and members of the Society for a (virtual?) cup of tea and a chat.

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.

This year, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the lectures will be held online using Zoom. It may be possible to start meeting for lectures at the Grant Institute again in the New Year. However, even if physical meetings restart, we will continue to broadcast all lectures using Zoom.

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 2020-21

Wednesday 14 October 7pm Dave McCarthy, BGS Marine

The geological controversies of the Falklands Plateau

Despite the Falklands Plateau’s significance as a crustal structure, our knowledge of the plateau is severely limited. Many of the findings from geological and geophysical studies are widely debated. This discussion will provide an overview of the main controversies including: the role of the plateau in the break-up of Gondwana; its crustal composition; and whether it is home to one of the largest impact craters on the planet.

Wednesday 28 October, 7pm Andy Mitten, BDRG, Keele University

Delta tops and succession hops: the Clackmannan Group, Midland Valley, Scotland

Deltaic successions, such as those that comprise much of the Carboniferous strata of the UK, are synonymous with high- and low-resolution sequence stratigraphical surfaces (succession hops). We present data from the Namurian Clackmannan Group of the Midland Valley, Scotland, where sedimentary log data, three-dimensional photogrammetric modellingand borehole correlations reveal the depositional history of the Group. Sedimentary facies analysis and bed thickness measurements reveal high-resolution sequence stratigraphical parasequence-scale succession hops and larger, low-resolution breaks to the sedimentary record. However, the question still remains: what controls these succession hops seen on our delta tops?

Wednesday 11 November, 7pm Alasdair Murphy, University of St Andrews and colleagues

Exploring Southern Greenland’s magmatic past: new perspectives from the giant dykes on Tuttotooq

Rift related, alkaline magmatism exposed in the Gardar province of southern Greenland has contributed greatly to our understanding of geology, petrology and mineralogy for over 100 years. But even so, the unique nature of these rocks leaves much to be discovered and, with economic interest growing in the area, understanding these rocks is becoming ever more important. As a team of undergraduate students, we organised and undertook an expedition to map and study features on the island of Tuttutooq which promised to help unravel aspects of Southern Greenland’s magmatic past.

Wednesday 25 November, 7pm Graham Leslie, BGS Edinburgh

A Caledonian cruise across Iapetus on Anglesey

A century after Edward Greenly’s original mapping of Anglesey was published, BGS has published a new tectono-stratigraphic synthesis of Anglesey and adjacent parts of NW Wales. That synthesis reveals a comprehensive record of the Appalachian-Caledonian ‘Wilson Cycle’ now preserved in the UK segment of the orogeny, more specifically on Anglesey. Just how did Anglesey migrate from the margin of Gondwana to Laurentia? How did it cross Iapetus? By the shortest crossing, or by taking a cruise docking in several ports en route! This talk will examine the geological way-markers left behind.

Wednesday 9 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. If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with Chris Lofthouse on

Wednesday 6 January, 7pm Lucy McKay, Strathclyde University

Core Surprise: What’s Inside a Plate Boundary Fault in Scotland

The core of the Highland Boundary Fault contains some surprising finds. Digging to expose the fault core near Stonehaven revealed a remarkable sequence of clay and microfossils ‘inside’ this ancient plate boundary fault. Surprisingly the fault core consists of four distinct clay-rich units that remain unmixed. The internal structure of the fault core (i.e., thickness, composition, microstructure) has similarities to active plate boundary faults like the San Andreas fault. This talk will provide an overview of these surprising discoveries and discuss their implications for understanding how earthquakes behave at plate boundary faults.

Wednesday 20 January, 7pm Charlie King, Scotgold, Cononish

Gold: Exploring Scotland’s Untapped Potential

As the Cononish Gold Mine is brought into production, the question arises- what’s next? This presentation will cover some of the challenges an exploration geologist faces when searching for elusive precious metal deposits in Scotland, how we overcome these challenges and what the future may hold for a Scottish gold mining industry.

Wednesday 3 February, 7pm MIS/EGS Joint lecture: Alison Monaghan,BGS Edinburgh

Drilling into mines for heat: the UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow

Net-zero carbon targets require significant progress to be made in the decarbonisation of heat. Utilisation of the warm water in flooded, abandoned coal mines beneath many of the UK’s towns and cities could offer a substantial opportunity for decarbonised heating using a technology that is proved, but not widely realised.
The UK Geoenergy Observatory in Glasgow is an at-scale ‘underground laboratory’ of 12 boreholes, surface monitoring equipment and open data for investigating shallow, low-temperature mine water heat energy, heat storage resources and environmental change. The Observatory has started to enable a wide range of testing and monitoring for resource characterisation and long term utilisation of mine water heat, and environmental management. This talk will focus on drilling into the mine workings, hydrogeological testing of the resource and environmental monitoring at the Observatory.

Wednesday 17 February, 7pm Clough Medal Lecture: Anthony M. Spencer

The Port Askaig Formation in Argyll: uncovering the evidence for repeated climatic changes in a Cryogenian glacial sequence

The Port Askaig Formation (PAF) in the Garvellach Islands and Islay is ~1100m thick and includes 47 diamictites. Many were deposited by grounded ice; a few were ice-rafted. The PAF records 76 climatically-related episodes: 28 glacial, 25 periglacial and 23 non-glacial. Amongst Cryogenian glacial successions, the PAF is exceptional in its combination of: formation thickness; the number of climatically-related episodes; the thickness (25km) of its host Supergroup. PAF studies started with MacCulloch (1819); Thomson (1871) proposed a glacial origin; Pitcher and Shackleton (1961) measured the strata in the Garvellachs, leading to my 1971 Memoir; a large team is now preparing a new Memoir.

Wednesday 3 March, 7pm Michael Brookfield, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Dating the earliest land biotas – Scotland was the first!

Further details of this lecture will be posted here as soon as they are available.

Wednesday 17 March, AGM 7pm, Lecture 7.30pm Heather Stewart, BGS Edinburgh

Exploring the Underworld: The geomorphology and sediments of subduction trenches 

Subduction related trenches commonly display complex geomorphologies as a result of normal faulting, mass flow deposits, volcanism, accretion, canyons, inherent spreading fabric and formation of sedimentary basins. Not only controlling seafloor substrate heterogeneity, these features also form complex habitats for benthic fauna. Additionally, the funnelling of organic sediments, controlled by local topography and trench shape, to the trench axis is reported to influence biomass distribution in these dynamic environments.

Over the last 4 years, the author has participated on four projects studying 17 trenches within the Pacific, Atlantic, Southern, and Indian oceans, providing a unique insight into global trench processes.