North Eastern Geological Society

Chair: Gordon Liddle
Secretary: Christine Burridge
Lecture Programme Coordinator: Gillian R. Foulger
Field Trip Secretary: Gordon Liddle

Click here for the Official NEGS website

Lectures will be held at 7:30 pm in the Arthur Holmes lecture theatre, which is Room No. CG91 and is downstairs from the Porter's Lodge on the Science Laboratories site, South Rd., University of Durham. They will be followed by coffee or tea, to which all speakers and audience members are cordially invited.

The March meeting will be preceded by the AGM, which lasts ~ 15 min.

The December and March meetings will befollowed by cheese and wine.

2019 - 2020 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
18th October, 2019

Dr. Matthew Funnell
Durham University

Beneath the waves: how physics is used to develop our understanding of the world at the bottom of the oceans and beyond

22nd November, 2019
Dr. Christopher Saville
Durham University
tba
13th December, 2019
Members' evening
1. Christine Taylor
The Comrie igneous complex
2. Members' Geological Show & Tell
17th January, 2020

Dr. Julie Prytulak
Durham University

50 years of discovery by drilling oceanic crust
21st February, 2020

Dr. John Nudds
Univ. Manchester

Archaeopteryx

20th March, 2020

Dr. Helen Adamson
Newcastle University

The effects of blanket bog restoration techniques on vegetation

2018 - 2019 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
19th October, 2018

Prof. Gillian R. Foulger
Durham University

A radical new theory for the origin of Iceland

16th November, 2018
Prof. Chris Greenwell
Durham University
A time of waste – sustainable environmental geoscience solutions
14th December, 2018
Members' evening
1. Andy Lane
Glimpses of Harz Geology – Familiar but Different
2. Christine Taylor
Carboniferous Volcanism of the East Fife Coast
18th January, 2019
Modelling ice flow patterns across the NE using a Geographic Information System (GIS)
15th February, 2019

Dr. Antonio Capponi
Durham University

Bubbles in basaltic volcanic systems: insights from analogue experiments

15th March, 2019

Prof. Claire Horwell
Durham University

2017 - 2018 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
20th October, 2017

Prof. David Harper
Durham University

Dead bodies in the Sirius Pass, North Greenland: An early window on the Cambrian Explosion

24th November, 2017
Prof. Jim McElwaine
Durham University
Mars
15th December, 2017
Members' evening
1. Paul Newton & Gordon Liddle
Some geological features in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
2. Christine Burridge
A story of volcanoes
3. Christine Taylor
A visit to the Derbyshire Carbonate Platform
19th January, 2018

Dr. George Cooper
Durham University

Unlocking a volcanoes secrets through crystal specific studies
16th February, 2018

Prof. Chris Stokes
Durham University

What’s happening to the world’s largest ice sheet? Stability vs. instability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

16th March, 2018

Prof. Colin Waters
Univ. Leicester

The Anthropocene

2016 - 2017 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
21st October, 2016

Alex Peace
Durham University

18th November, 2016
Prof. Gillian R. Foulger
Durham University
Human-induced earthquakes
16th December, 2016
Members' evening
1. Paul Newton & Gordon Liddle
The Tertiary volcanics of southern France
2. Mavis Gill
The rocks and landscape of East Greenland
20th January, 2017

Dr. Christian Schiffer
Durham University

17th February, 2017

Prof. Jon Gluyas
Durham University

Helium, it's a gas, gas, gas

17th March, 2017

Dr. Najwa Mhana
Durham University


The changing Earth: Monitoring changes in Earth structure using tomography

2015 - 2016 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
16th October, 2015
Structure of Mt. Etna
20th November, 2015
Dr. Rick Smith
FWS Consultants
The recent polyhalite discoveries in North Yorkshire
18th December, 2015
Members' evening
1. John Waring
From Deserts to Deltas
2. Les Barnes
The Isle of Purbeck; a geologist's paradise
3. Gordon Liddle
Gordon will lead a display and discussion of members favourite specimens–rocks, fossils, maps or photos. Please everyone bring something along!
15th January, 2016

Dr. Edward Dempsey
Durham University

Minding your P’s & Qs’s: Using pyrite, pyrrhotite, quartz and quartzine to understand the origin of the North Pennines orefield
19th February, 2016
Dr. Brian Young
Durham University
18th March, 2016
Prof. Mike Bentley
Durham University
Antarctic ice sheets and climate change

2014 - 2015 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
17th October, 2014

Prof. Andy Aplin
Durham University

A New Dawn for Shale: Oil, Gas and CO2 Storage
21st November, 2014
Dr. Darren Grocke
Durham University
12th December, 2014
Members' evening
1. Gordon Wilkinson
Uluru and Kata Tjuta – the geology of a unique area
2. Gordon Hull
People I've met on the road from Stanley to Pangaea
3. Christine Taylor
A particular quarry in Gloucestershire
16th January, 2015

Dr John Nudds
Univ. Manchester

Chinese Dinosaur Embryos
20th February, 2015
Lesley Dunlop
Northumbria University
Chromite, tungsten and iron: Mineral deposits and mines in Portugal
20th March, 2015
Prof. Chris R. Stokes
Durham University
Poles Apart? Glaciers and Climate Change in the Arctic and Antarctic

2013 – 2014 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
18th October, 2013
Dr. Stuart Dunning
Northumbria University

Outburst floods from the unpronounceable volcano: the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010
8th November, 2013
**Note change of date to avoid clash with Lumiere festival**
Dr. Darren Grocke
Durham University
What Lies Beneath Us - A GeoSculpture at Durham University
13th December, 2013
Members' evening
1. Gordon Wilkinson
Uluru and Kata Tjuta – the geology of a unique area
2. John Waring
Rocks under the microscope; making thin sections by an amateur
3. Christine Burridge
Peaks, Penguins and the Peninsula - Some Antarctic Observations
17th January, 2014

Dr. Richard J. Brown
Durham University

Natural Born Killers: The Nature and Hazards of Pyroclastic Density Currents
21st February, 2014
Prof. Jon Gluyas
Durham University
Getting Into Hot Water: Exalting Low-Enthalpy Geothermal Opportunity in the UK
21st March, 2014
Brian Young
Durham University

2012 – 2013 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
19th October, 2012
Dr. Martin A. Whyte
Univ. Sheffield
Tracking Yorkshire's Dinosaurs
16th November, 2012
Landscape of the Durham Magnesian Limestone
14th December, 2012
Members' evening
1. Les Barnes
Geology of the Perigord, France, with respect to iron production in the 17th Century
2. Nigel Sprague
The Highland Controversy
3. Bruce Julian
Energy from a Hot Rock
18th January, 2013

Russell Bayliss
Parsons Brinckerhoff

New Tyne Crossing – The Quaternary Ground Model
15th February, 2013
Edward D. Dempsey
Durham University
Building the Misty Mountains of Middle Earth- New Zealand's Southern Alps
15th March, 2013
Dr. Anthony H. Cooper
British Geological Survey

 

2011 – 2012 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
21st October, 2011
Dr. Phil Manning
Univ. Manchester
Dinosaurs, space shuttles and synchrotrons
18th November, 2011
Dr. Rachel Wood
Univ. Edinburgh
The dawn of biomineralisation
16th December, 2011
Prof. Richard Davies
Univ. Durham
The Lusi mud volcano disaster, Indonesia: Why and what next?
20th January, 2012

Dr. Lisa Baldini
Univ. Durham

to be announced
17th February, 2012
Prof. Philip Gibbard
Univ. Cambridge
The last glacial cycle in lowland England
16th March, 2012
Dr. Mike Norry
Univ. Leicester
Shetland; the evolution of geology, language and people

2010 – 2011 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
2010
September 24th
Dr. Bruce R. Julian
U.S. Geological Survey
The Grand Canyon
2010
October 22nd
Ms. Sabina A.K. Michnowicz
University of Durham
"Amazing and portentous" an account of Britain in the wake of the 1783 - 1784 Laki fissure eruption
2010
November 19th
Dr. Brian Young
British Geological Survey & University of Durham
A tale of two orefields
2010
December 10th

Dr. Richard Collier
University of Leeds

Active rift margins: Structural evolution and sedimentary response
2011
January 21st
Dr. Eva Panagiotakopulu
University of Edinburgh
Life on the edge: The biogeography of North Atlantic insect faunas
2011
February 18th
Dr Jeff Warburton
University of Durham
River trenching of the Wear floodplain
2011
March 18th

Prof. David M. Knight
University of Durham

History of geology

2009 – 2010 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
2009
October 20th
Prof. Dean Presnall
Univ. Texas (Dallas) & Carnegie Institution of Washington
What is experimental igneous petrology?
2009
November 17th
Dr. Michael Lim
Univ. Durham
2009
December 15th
Dr. Steve Arnold
Univ. Leeds
Air pollution in the Arctic: where does it come from and why does it matter?
2010
January 19th
Dr. Richard Hobbs
Univ. Durham
Seismic Oceanography: new ways to look at water
2010
February 16th
Prof. Harry Pinkerton
Univ. Lancaster
Can remote sensing and geophysics provide us with all we need to know about active volcanoes? Is there no longer a need for detailed field observations, measurements and sampling? A case study based on 35 years on Etna.
2010
March 16th
Dr. Thorvaldur Thordarson
Univ. Edinburgh
Holocene volcanism in Iceland - eruption history, styles and magnitudes

2008 – 2009 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
2008
October 17th
Prof. Lionel Wilson
Lancaster Univ.
Volcanic activity on the Earth and Planets
2008
November 21st
Prof. J. Godfrey Fitton
Univ. Edinburgh
Hotspot-ridge interaction in Iceland
2008
December 12th
Prof. Andrew J. Dugmore
Univ. Edinburgh
2009
January 23rd
Dr. Jennifer A. Tait
Univ. Edinburgh
Snowball Earth - Fact or Fiction?
2009
February 20th
When did plate tectonics start on Earth?
2009
March 20th
Dr. Steve Arnold
Univ. Leeds
Probing interactions between the oceans, vegetation and climate using clues from the remote atmosphere

2007– 2008 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
2007 September 21st
Jeff Harris
University of Glasgow
Mineral inclusions in diamond: glimpses into the mysteries of the deep Earth
2007
October 19th
Dr. Dougal A. Jerram
Durham University
Africa to Antarctica: Recent developments in our understanding of the flood volcanic system
2007
November 16th
Lynda Yorke
University of Hull
New light on deglaciation in the Tyne Valley
2007
December 14th
Dr. Kathryn Goodenough
British Geological Survey
Sillimanite, snakes and stream sediments: a geological tour of Northern Madagascar
2008
January 18th
Prof. R.E. Holdsworth
Durham University
The geological anatomy of a geophysical enigma: low-angle normal faults from the Italian Apennines
2008
February 22nd
Dr. Howard A. Armstrong
Durham University
Ordovician glaciation, mass extinction and anoxic oceans - a view to the future?
2008
March 14th

Dr. Peter Kokelaar
University of Liverpool

History of Scafell caldera: a dramatisation

2006 – 2007 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
2006 September 22nd
Dr. Leah Horowitz
University of Leeds
Landscape heritage: Assessing social impacts of mining in New Caledonia, South Pacific
2006
October 20th
Dr. Colin Macpherson
University of Durham
Subduction + ? = Continental Crust
2006
November 17th
Dr. Claire Fialips
University of Newcastle
2006
December 15th
Dr. Stuart Jones
University of Durham
In a state of flux: fluvial sediments of central Iran
2007
January 19th
Dr. Laura Font
University of Durham
From volcanoes to bird feathers: applications of the micro-Sr technique
2007
February 23rd
Dr. Rob Chapman
University of Leeds
2007
March 16th
Prof. Peter Clift
Aberdeen University
Mountain building and monsoons in the formation of Asia

2005 – 2006 programme

Date
Speaker
Title
2005
September 16th
Dr. Rashmin Gunasekera,
Univ. Coventry
Tsunamis: Forewarned is Forearmed
2005
October 21st

Prof. Yaoling Niu,
Univ. Durham

Subcontinental lithosphere thinning – a special consequence of plate tectonics: Insights from the tectonic evolution of eastern China since the Mesozoic

2005
November 18th

Prof. Godfrey Fitton
Univ. Edinburgh
Origin of the submarine Ontong Java Plateau, the world's largest igneous province
2005
December 9th
Dr. Mark Allen,
Univ. Durham
Mountain ranges of Iran
2006
January 20th
Dr. Jonathan Imber,
Univ. Durham
Rifting & reactivation: extending the continental crust
2006
February 17th
Dr. Moyra Wilson,
Univ. Durham
Equatorial carbonate development during Cenozoic global change
2006
March 17th
Dr. Sue Rigby,
Univ. Edinburgh
Swimming with Graptolites

Abstracts

The Wilson Cycle in the North Atlantic

Christian Schiffer, Dept. Earth Sciences, Durham University, Science Labs., South Rd., Durham DH1 3LE, UK, christian.schiffer@durham.ac.uk, 20th January, 2017.

The present-day North Atlantic is the result of subduction of a former ocean (Iapetus Ocean), subsequent continental collision and mountain building (Caledonian mountains), and final rifting and formation of new oceanic crust. Because this was suggested by Tuzo Wilson in 1966 it is known as the Wilson Cycle. This concept significantly added to plate tectonic theory up to the present day. Although the North Atlantic region is one of the best studied areas, some details of its geodynamic evolution remain poorly known.

Recent seismic imaging using broadband seismometers across the coast of East Greenland detected an east-dipping structure in the upper mantle to a depth of 80 km or more. The seismic signature, the large scale geometry and its location relative to North Atlantic geology suggests this structure is an old fossil subduction zone. Similarities to the Flannan structure beneath northern Scotland suggest that the two formed a coherent, eastward-dipping Iapetus subduction zone before the opening of the North Atlantic. This discovery may be an essential piece of information that helps us to decipher the tectonic evolution of the North Atlantic. This includes the relationship of Iceland and the volcanic rocks of Britain, Scandinavia and Greenland to Iapetus geology, and to hydrocarbon resources around the Atlantic margins.

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The role of pre-existing structures during continental breakup and transform system development in the Davis Strait, offshore West Greenland

Alex Peace, Dept. Earth Sciences, Durham University, Science Labs., South Rd., Durham DH1 3LE, UK, a.l.peace@durham.ac.uk, 21st October, 2016.

Continental breakup between West Greenland and North Eastern Canada produced the small oceanic basins of the Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay, which are connected via the Davis Strait, a region mostly comprised of continental crust. In this study seismic reflection data from the Davis Strait constrained using exploration wells, gravity and crustal thickness data was analysed to produce a series of seismic surfaces, isochrons and a new offshore fault map. The results have been integrated with plate reconstructions and onshore structural data to build a two stage conceptual model for the offshore fault evolution in which early rift basin formation was controlled primarily by reactivation of pre-existing basement structures. While this control diminished into the postrift, the location of synrift basins still exerted some control on the location of sedimentation probably due to differential sediment compaction.

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Coastal rock cliff erosion: where to draw the line?

Michael Lim, Dept. Geography, University of Durham, Science Labs., South Rd., Durham DH1 3LE, UK michael.lim@durham.ac.uk 17th November, 2009.

Geology plays a fundamental role in shaping our rocky coastlines, interacting with destabilising processes to control the rate and nature of cliff erosion. Recording, interpreting and predicting coastal cliff erosion is a critical component in coastal policy, assuming even greater significance in the context of global sea-level rise and forecast increases in the occurrence of extreme weather phenomena. Much of our understanding of cliff change is based on patterns in the mapped historic position of the cliffline. These surveys provide a valuable insight into landform behaviour but the levels of error that occur often exceed the absolute changes recorded, casting considerable doubt over the validity of results; results that hold far reaching implications for coastal communities. This lecture presents the results from an ongoing seven year research plan conducted by Durham University into rock cliff erosion on the North Yorkshire coast. The main aim of this work is provide a new quantitative understanding of the 3D nature of coastal cliff erosion and the processes driving it, re-evaluating current rates of retreat established along the coast and consequently providing better tools with which to assess future behaviour.

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Tephrochronology, resilience and limits to adaptation: lessons from the Viking settlement of the North Atlantic

Andrew J. Dugmore, Geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, Scotland, UK andrew.dugmore@ed.ac.uk, 12th December, 2008

Tephrochronology, a dating technique based on the identification and correlation of layers of volcanic ash, can make key contributions to our understanding of human-environment interactions. This is because the isochrons defined by tephras permit accurate spatial and temporal correlations of environmental data and have such precision that effective integration with historical records and human timescales are possible. In this talk the principles, practice and application of tephrochronology are assessed as a part of a wiser discussion of human environment interaction and the Norse settlement of the North Atlantic. The end of Norse Greenland settlement is widely associated with the climate changes of the ‘Little Ice Age’, environmental destruction and an inability to adapt, but there is evidence in Greenland and across the Atlantic islands for both Norse sustainable practice and successful adaptation to climate change. As a result we propose that the choices made during the initial Norse colonization and settlement of Greenland, followed by a rising level of connection, intensification, and investment in fixed resource spaces, social and material infrastructure, increased the effectiveness of adaptation but at a cost of reduced resilience in the face of variation. When confronted by culture contact, rapid natural, social and economic changes the limitations of the pathway chosen by the Norse in Greenland seem to have been too great and social collapse could have been the result. The lessons drawn from a multidisciplinary assessment of the Viking settlement of the Atlantic islands in general and Norse Greenland in particular are disturbing in a modern context. It is possible to creatively adapt to new environments, build up centuries of community-based managerial expertise, wisely conserve fragile resources for communal benefit, codify the results, maintain century-scale sustainable patterns of life and society- and yet still face ultimate collapse and extinction.

Andy is a Professor of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh, and an Adjunct Research Professor on the Doctoral Program in Anthropology at the City University of New York, USA. His research is focused on understanding environmental change over timescales from decades to millennia, and their significance for human society. A key theme is the development and application of tephrochronology, a dating technique based on the identification and correlation of volcanic ash layers. Between 2002-7 Andrew co-directed a Leverhulme Trust Programme Award for the study of ‘Landscapes circum- Landám: Viking settlement in the North Atlantic and its human and environmental consequences’. He is currently embarking on two follow up programmes, ‘Footsteps on the edge of Thule’ which will assess the interactions of Norse and indigenous peoples in Greenland and Arctic Scandinavia (also funded by the Leverhulme Trust) and an NSF Office of Polar Programs IPY project on ‘Human ecodynamics in the Norse North Atlantic’.

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The use of gold mineralogy to establish potential sources of gold exploited during the Bronze Age in Ireland

Dr. Rob Chapman, 23rd February, 2006

The importance of Au to ancient societies has encouraged many archaeologists to search for the sources exploited in antiquity. These projects generally involve detailed studies of artefacts and comparison of their chemical characteristics with those reported for natural Au. However, descriptions of natural Au are frequently inadequate for provenancing studies, and the compositional variability of the material is not widely recognised. The present study describes a new approach to gold provenancing using the technique of microchemical characterization in which populations of gold grains are classified according to the alloy compositions and the assemblages of micro-inclusions of other minerals. This technique, originally developed to identify sources of alluvial gold during Au exploration, has proved applicable to provenancing studies in four main areas. Firstly, microchemical characterization of artefacts grouped according to archaeological criteria can indicate the number of sources exploited in relation to time and artefact taxonomy. Secondly, knowledge of the total variation in chemical characteristics of natural Au from a particular region provides an excellent database for provenancing and reduces the need for exhaustive sampling. Thirdly, it is possible to predict how Au alloys were modified during fabrication as a consequence of assimilation of mineral inclusions. Finally, identification of inclusion phases in artefact Au can provide information on metallurgical practices.

These principles have been applied to the search for the source of Au used for the unique traditions of prehistoric Irish metalworking. Studies of 180 Irish Au artefacts belonging to 4 major metalworking traditions dating from the Early Bronze Age (2400 BC) to the Iron Age, (150 BC) show that each group exhibits distinctive Ag and Cu contents. Parallel studies of 2267 natural Au grains from 58 alluvial localities and 4 bedrock localities throughout Ireland reveal a broad pattern of alloy compositions consistent with style of mineralization and host geology. The ranges of Ag contents of Early Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age artefacts suggests that the Au source lies within Lower Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks of the Southern Uplands Terrane and significantly, that the same source (or sources) were used in both periods. A different source of relatively Ag-rich Au, (most probably at Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo), was exploited in the Late Bronze Age. Iron Age artefacts have Ag contents higher than natural Irish Au. Evidence for evolution of metallurgical practice during the Bronze Age is provided by the increasing Cu content of the gold alloys (to levels far in excess of natural gold) and the nature of inclusions in artefacts of different ages. Elevated Sn in Cu-rich alloys suggests deliberate or accidental alloying with bronze.

This approach has provided the first clear indication that only a few individual indigenous Irish sources of Au were used during the Bronze Age and that their relative importance changed over time. Future archaeological investigations may adopt a geographical focus that was not previously possible.

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Iron in clay minerals: a curse or a cure?

Dr. Claire Fialips, 17th November, 2006

Clay minerals are abundant in soils and sediments and generally contain significant - if not high - concentrations of structural ferric iron (Fe(III)). Reducing conditions, even for a short period of time, can strongly affect the chemistry, structure and surface properties of iron-bearing clays. In particular, the chemical reduction of Fe(III) to Fe(II) in Fe-rich smectites results in structural rearrangements and dramatic changes in the swelling behaviour and cationic exchange capacity of the clay. Such changes can dramatically and adversely affect the fate of pollutants or the availability of nutrients in natural or artificial systems. However, in some cases, these changes could as well play in our favour in pollution remediation.

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My house fell in a hole - problems with soluble rocks;  wiches in Cheshire and the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland?

Dr. Anthony Cooper, 15th March, 2013

Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) is attractive as satin spar, beautiful as carved alabaster and practical as plasterboard; rock salt (NaCl) is an essential mineral, but both cause geological hazards capable of swallowing houses. Gypsum and salt can dissolve rapidly in flowing water and caves can form where this happens underground, sometimes resulting in catastrophic subsidence at the surface. In Northern England, around Ripon, Darlington and in parts of Cheshire, large holes have appeared, often without warning. Beneath Ripon there is a complex maze cave system formed in the gypsum with large breccia pipes leading upwards to collapse features at the surface. It has been suggested that Lewis Carroll’s vision of Alice falling down a deep vertical hole into an underground land was inspired by this subsidence at Ripon. There is a connection between the author, Croft near Darlington, the city of Ripon, and dramatic subsidence at the house where "Alice" is thought to have lived. Salt dissolves very rapidly causing subsidence problems and salt springs; in Cheshire these springs have the local name of “wich” hence the local place names such as Nantwich, Northwich and Middlewich. Gypsum and salt karst subsidence are geohazards that need to be considered in planning and development. They are difficult to investigate, but techniques including airborne multispectral remote sensing, stereo air photography, microgravity, ground probing radar, resistivity tomography and the use of drilling have all helped. The hazards require careful consideration, but can be addressed through the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), planning and novel construction techniques. The English soluble rock subsidence problems are not unique and similar problems also occur in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, China, Canada, the USA and many other countries.

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The Stones of Durham

Dr. Brian Young, 21st March, 2014

This talk will look briefly at the geology of the Durham city site and it will explore the uses of stone, both local and imported, in what Bill Bryson described as "the best cathedral on planet Earth". As a Cathedral Guide & Steward the speaker obviously agrees with him! Particular emphasis will beplaced on how the site's geology and the varied properties of the main stones used in the building have been employed and how these have influenced the design and appearance of the building.

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A Brief History of Stable Isotopes: from Kangaroos to Forensics to Botany and the Mesozoic

Darren Grocke, 21st November, 2014

The application of stable isotope geochemistry in understanding the Earth System has been applied for over 50 years, and yet many topics are still poorly understood. In this lecture I will provide a biography of my adventures as a stable isotope geochemist for 20 years. Topics covered include: isotopes in kangaroos as a recorder of precipitation; ancient DNA and isotopes as a tracer of diet and migration; isotopic effects in modern and fossil plants; methane events recorded from a Jurassic Park using carbon isotopes; and understanding carbon burial events in shales. These are only a taster of the types of projects that have passed through my laboratory. This informal lecture is aimed at giving the audience a journey on how stable isotope geochemistry can help understand various aspects in the Earth System – or to reveal how little we still understand...

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Certainly old stagers like me from the former BGS field staff have a fairish repertoire of observations of the rough and tumble of field mapping and subsequent compilation. Some of these might well be of interest - perhaps even amusing in some cases - but I think might work best if included in a talk on what is actually involved in the process of putting together a BGS map and, perhaps more interesting still, why we re-mapped some areas as many as 3 times over the past century or so. I was once asked to put together a short article on this for a NERC publication some years ago. It is a question that was often asked of field staff, especially by curious/suspicious landowners. It can be illustrated with some extremely persuasive explanations.

There is something of an air of mystique over geological mapping in some quarters and even many geologists nowadays do not quite grasp what we were about and how we went about it. The process is a lot more involved, and a lot more interesting, than that touched upon in some of the brief taster sessions on mapping offered in some short field courses.
I think this could be an interesting, and rather different, type of presentation that may well appeal to members.

Mapping it out: William Smith 200 years on

Brian Young

Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Durham, Retired District Geologist, Northern England, British Geological Survey

I’ve got a geological map of this area.  The rocks can’t have changed so why are you mapping it again? ”.  This, one of the most frequently asked questions posed by farmers and land owners to field geologists of the British Geological Survey, in some places on an almost daily basis, might seem a perfectly reasonable query.  Yet it betrays an all too common, though in some instances perhaps understandable, misconception of what geological maps are, how they are compiled, what they can and cannot tell us,  and what purposes they are intended to serve. Sometimes seen, wrongly, as simply brightly coloured versions of Ordnance Survey maps, geological maps are commonly underappreciated and misunderstood, even by some geologists!  This talk will give some insights into the complex and varied disciplines of geological mapping, will de-bunk some of the myths and, above all answer the question of why re-mapping is so often both necessary and ground-breaking 200 years after the pioneering efforts of William Smith.

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Is it harmful to breathe ash? Public health hazard assessment and protection in communities impacted by eruptions

Claire Horwell

Associate Professor & Director of the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Durham

During volcanic eruptions, and their aftermaths, communities may be very concerned about inhaling fine-grained ash, which can be rich in the deleterious mineral crystalline silica. Dr Claire Horwell, Director of the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network (www.ivhhn.org) will lead us through her interdisciplinary career journey, from trying, for a decade, to answer the question “Is it harmful to breathe this ash?”, by mineralogical, geochemical and toxicological analyses of ash samples from around the world, to her realisation that this question cannot easily be answered in the timeframe of acute community exposures. In 2015 she embarked on the Wellcome Trust/DfID-funded project Health Interventions in Volcanic Eruptions (HIVE; http://community.dur.ac.uk/hive.consortium/) which aimed to answer a more pertinent question: “How can I protect myself from breathing this ash?”. The HIVE project has built the first evidence base on the effectiveness of common materials used to protect communities in volcanic crises including cloth, surgical and industry-certified masks. The key finding is that industry-certified facemasks are more effective than any other type of protection, even with no fit training.  Incorporating laboratory analyses, on the filtration efficiency and fit of 17 forms of respiratory protection, with psychological (questionnaire-based) and anthropological (interview-based) social surveys in Mexico, Japan and Indonesia, and a review of ethical considerations for agencies, the project has culminated in the development of a variety of audio-visual and printable public informational products for IVHHN which are already being widely used in Indonesia.

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