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 cup of tea and a chat.

Our varied programme of illustrated evening lectures runs from October to Easter, usually on Wednesday evenings at 7.30 pm.

They are open to the public free of charge, and visitors are welcome. The lectures usually take place in the Hutton Lecture Theatre in the Grant Institute of Geology, The King’s Buildings, James Hutton Road, Edinburgh EH9 3FE. Tea and biscuits, also at no charge, are served following the lecture in the Cockburn Museum of the Grant Institute.

Speakers and topics are carefully chosen to provide interest for both the amateur and professional geologist. These meetings also provide an informal opportunity to chat to other members, and find out more about geological sites from local experts. 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 give accounts of their own geological interests, specimens or travels.

EGS Evening Lecture Programme 2018-2019

The lectures will be on every second Wednesday, starting on 10th October, restarting after the Christmas break on Wednesday 9th January 2019.

Wednesday 10 October 2018, 7.30pm Prof Roy Thompson, University of Edinburgh

Scotland’s Energy Trilemma

Resolving the energy trilemma involves striking a satisfactory balance between the three conflicting options of low prices, low-carbon emissions and energy security. This lecture will focus on the geological underpinnings of this trilemma. How long will UK oil and gas last? Could a vibrant fracking industry be established in Scotland? Are the UK’s plans for geological disposal of nuclear waste viable? What do geological and historical data tell us about the global climate-change problem? How will the lights be kept on in a post-Brexit world? The talk will conclude with an outline of an optimal stratagem for Scotland’s energy future.

scotlands energy trilemma roy thompson

Wednesday 24 October, 7.30pm Dr Graham Leslie, BGS Scotland

What place for world class geology in future Singapore?

BGS is developing a modern understanding of the geology and sub-surface architecture of Singapore. Singapore’s geology is dominated by a late Permian to Triassic volcanic arc, and a broadly contemporaneous, Upper Triassic, marine and fluvial, volcano-sedimentary forearc succession. These strata were deformed during collisional accretion tectonics in the Indosinian Orogeny. Subduction-related granitic rocks form a world-class example of arc magmatism. Understanding that complex geological setting is critical to planning, design and construction of a future-proof city infrastructure for Singapore, including enormous underground storage facilities for traded commodities and secure domestic water supplies, as well as state-of-the-art transport.

Wednesday 7 November, 7.30pm Robert Gatliff, EGS President

Exploring the oceans – minerals, hazards and ecosystems

Trials to mine manganese nodules from the sea bed were undertaken in the 1970s. Since then cobalt crusts and massive sulphides (with black smokers) have been discovered but there has been no commercial mining so far. How will we licence areas of the ocean, appraise, develop, and care for the environment if commercial mining takes off?

Wednesday 21 November, 6.30pm Public Lecture at Dynamic Earth

What did the Ice Age ever do for us?

Scotland’s scenery has been shaped by moving ice and meltwater over hundreds of thousands of years, but the Ice Age has also affected the sea bed around Scotland and it influences today’s society in surprising ways. This public lecture, organised by the Edinburgh Geological Society and Dynamic Earth, gives the opportunity to hear first-hand about recent advances in our understanding of the Ice Age. Chaired by Hermione Cockburn, the panel will include Carol Cotterill, Emrys Phillips (both from the British Geological Survey) and Tom Bradwell (Stirling University). Venue: Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS.

Tickets £5, free for students and under 18s. Book online at

Edinburgh Castle Rock (Photo: Barbara Clarke)

Wednesday 5 December, 6.30pm Fellows’ Night

Fellows’ Night

This meeting, close to the anniversary of the foundation of the Society, is a chance to meet other members informally, with refreshments served from 6.30pm, followed by a series of short talks given by members. The event will be held in the upper level of the Lyell Centre, Heriot Watt campus (Research Ave S, Edinburgh EH14 4AP) and booking is not required. We are very grateful to BGS Scotland for hosting this event. If you would like to give a short talk on a subject of interest to members, please email Chris Lofthouse on

Wednesday 9 January 2019, 7.30pm Dr Dave Millward, Honorary Research Associate, BGS Scotland

Rock plants for a geologist

The connection between landscapes, rocks, soils and the plants that grow on them is well acknowledged, yet is often ignored by geologists and botanists alike. For more than 40 years as a field survey geologist, Dave Millward has combined his professional observations on rocks and landscape with an interest in field botany and of cultivating plants that originated from mountain regions. Dave will discuss aspects of geology that control the relationship with plants: for example, why plant communities of limestone landscapes are so biodiverse, why serpentinite massifs support high numbers of endemic species, and why some rhododendrons do grow on limestone, despite the belief of gardeners to the contrary.

Serpentinite massifs host a wide range of endemic species: the example here is Fritillaria serpenticola, in Antalya province, SW Turkey. Dave Millward will tell us more on 9 January. Photo: Dave Millward.

Wednesday 23 January, 7.30pm Dr Roger Anderton

From Mid Argyll to Mull: the sea bed geology of the Firth of Lorne

The geology of the sea bed between Mull, Lorne and Mid-Argyll has been interpreted using a new high-resolution bathymetric survey produced by SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science). Dalradian rocks underlie the whole area SE of the Great Glen Fault. Overlying the Dalradian are two areas of Old Red Sandstone including much of the western Firth. Triassic rocks are largely confined to the NW side of the Great Glen Fault both onshore and in the Sound of Mull, while Jurassic deposition appears to have been unaffected by the fault.

Wednesday 6 February, 7.30pm MIS/EGS Joint Lecture: Dr Hugh Barron, BGS Scotland

The Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site

The British Geological Survey (BGS) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are developing two world-class subsurface energy research test centres in the UK, one of which is in the Clyde Gateway area in the east end of Glasgow. This Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site is part of a £9M project to study low-temperature geothermal energy from the flooded mine workings below Glasgow.

Eastern Glasgow was once the location of extensive coal mining. The eventual closure of the mines led to them becoming naturally flooded with warm water which could be exploited via heat pumps to provide low-carbon heat for homes and businesses. In the Glasgow area, temperatures from around 12 to 20 °C are recorded in mine workings down to around 400 metres depth. However, we need to understand underground processes so that we can benefit from and protect underground resources. Geothermal energy could provide a low-cost, low-carbon heat source, but there are number of challenges for the geothermal industry.

This aims to be a world-class research site that would attract leading geothermal scientists and engineers. The knowledge, expertise and technology generated from this investment will be exportable to other areas. Around the UK, The Coal Authority datasets show flooded mine workings that could provide an energy source in other densely populated areas. Many other countries around the globe will also be interested in research at the site.

Core being recovered from the first borehole drilled as part of the Glasgow Geothermal Energy Research Field Site project. The borehole is situated in Dalmarnock, next to the Police Scotland Admin HQ. Image: Hugh Barron, BGS/NERC.

Wednesday 20 February, 7.30pm Clough Medal Lecture / Joint Lecture with the Geological Society of Glasgow: Dr Tim Dempster, University of Glasgow

Sideways views of Scottish garnets: insights into metamorphic processes

Garnets are capable of recording original compositions during growth and hence allow determination of pressure-temperature paths and durations of metamorphic events. However studies of garnet from the Scottish Highlands have questioned some key concepts of metamorphic equilibrium. Surface and internal zoning patterns reveal a failure to equilibrate at both staurolite and sillimanite isograds, and question assumptions about fluid availability and rates of intergranular transport. This emphasises the importance of kinetic controls on metamorphic reactions. Individual porphyroblasts may have a unique response to prograde metamorphism and control both subsequent reaction pathways and index mineral distribution.

Wednesday 6 March, 7.30pm Prof Frank Rennie, University of the Highlands and Islands

A Lewisian Perspective: The basement of the Earth

An introductory tour of the geology of the Isle of Lewis, with particular emphasis on sharing good field exposures for visitors. The geology of the Lewisian Gneiss is complicated, but is so much more than simply boring monotypic banded rocks, and this lecture highlights features to look out for in the landscape.

Wednesday 20 March, AGM 7pm, Lecture 7.30pm Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, BGS Scotland

Scotland’s aquifers: an introduction to aquifer properties, baseline chemistry, groundwater use & management in Scotland

Brighid Ó Dochartaigh is a Senior Hydrogeologist  with BGS Scotland in Edinburgh. She has worked on the Africa Groundwater Atlas and the Baseline Scotland project, a joint project between BGS and SEPA which is providing new groundwater chemistry data for Scotland. This new data provides essential information to sustainably manage Scotland’s water environment, as required by Scottish, UK and European water legislation. Details of this talk were not available when the newsletter went to press but further information will be posted on the EGS website in advance.