Skip to main content

NEGS

North Eastern Geological Society

Chair: Gordon Liddle
Secretary: Gordon Hull
Treasurer: Judy Harrison
Membership secretary: Elsie Denham
Webmaster: Alan Denham
Newsletter: John McNulty
Facebook: Christine Burridge
Lecture Programme Organizer: Gillian R. Foulger
Lecture reports: Les Barnes
Field Trip Secretary: Gordon Liddle

Click here for the Official NEGS website

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021-2022 lecture programme will be held via Zoom. The lectures will be held at 7:30 – 8:30 pm U.K. Time on the last Friday of each month except for December, which is earlier because of festivals.

As a result of this opportunity, we have developed a programme that will be delivered by leading geologists from around the world. We will also widen our audience invitee circle to include interested persons and departments from the Open University, the Universities at Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and regional sister geological societies.

Please note that audience size will be capped at 100.

2021 – 2022 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
29th October, 2021Prof. Robert B. Smith
Univ. Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
The Yellowstone Hotspot and the Anatomy of Old Faithful
26th November, 2021Prof. Alexander Peace
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Magmatism and continental breakup: The Mesozoic Notre Dame Bay Intrusions Newfoundland Canada
17th December, 2021Prof. Karen Harpp
Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, U.S.A.
Vignettes from the Galápagos Islands
28th January, 2022Edgardo Cañón Tapia
CICESE- División de Ciencias de la Tierra, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Spatial distribution of volcanic vents and their relation with the plumbing system
25th February, 2022Dr. Jon J. Major
Scientist-in-Charge
Cascades Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, Vancouver, Washington, U.S.A.
Volcano hazards in the Pacific Northwest USA—what they are, why they matter, and the challenges of crisis management
25th March, 2022Prof. Andrew Moore
Rhodes University, Makhanda (Grahamstown), South
Africa
The geology of diamonds

2019 – 2020 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
18th October, 2019Dr. 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, 2019Dr. Christopher Saville
Durham University
tba
13th December, 2019Members’ evening
1. Christine TaylorThe Comrie igneous complex
2. Members’ Geological Show & Tell
17th January, 2020Dr. Julie Prytulak
Durham University
50 years of discovery by drilling oceanic crust
21st February, 2020Dr. John Nudds
Univ. Manchester
Archaeopteryx
20th March, 2020Dr. Helen Adamson
Newcastle University
The effects of blanket bog restoration techniques on vegetation

2018 – 2019 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
19th October, 2018Prof. Gillian R. Foulger
Durham University
A radical new theory for the origin of Iceland
16th November, 2018Prof. Chris Greenwell
Durham University
A time of waste – sustainable environmental geoscience solutions
14th December, 2018Members’ evening
1. Andy LaneGlimpses of Harz Geology – Familiar but Different
2. Christine TaylorCarboniferous Volcanism of the East Fife Coast
18th January, 2019Derek A. Teasdale
NEGS
Modelling ice flow patterns across the NE using a Geographic Information System (GIS)
15th February, 2019Dr. Antonio Capponi
Durham University
Bubbles in basaltic volcanic systems: insights from analogue experiments
15th March, 2019Prof. Claire Horwell
Durham University
Is it harmful to breathe ash? Public health hazard assessment and protection in communities impacted by eruptions

2017 – 2018 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
20th October, 2017Prof. David Harper
Durham University
Dead bodies in the Sirius Pass, North Greenland: An early window on the Cambrian Explosion
24th November, 2017Prof. Jim McElwaine
Durham University
Mars
15th December, 2017Members’ evening
1. Paul Newton & Gordon LiddleSome geological features in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
2. Christine BurridgeA story of volcanoes
3. Christine TaylorA visit to the Derbyshire Carbonate Platform
19th January, 2018Dr. George Cooper
Durham University
Unlocking a volcanoes secrets through crystal specific studies
16th February, 2018Prof. 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, 2018Prof. Colin Waters
Univ. Leicester
The Anthropocene

2016 – 2017 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
21st October, 2016Alex Peace
Durham University
The role of pre-existing structures during continental breakup and transform system development in the Davis Strait, offshore West Greenland
18th November, 2016Prof. Gillian R. Foulger
Durham University
Human-induced earthquakes
16th December, 2016Members’ evening
1. Paul Newton & Gordon LiddleThe Tertiary volcanics of southern France
2. Mavis GillThe rocks and landscape of East Greenland
20th January, 2017Dr. Christian Schiffer
Durham University
The Wilson Cycle in the North Atlantic
17th February, 2017Prof. Jon Gluyas
Durham University
Helium, it’s a gas, gas, gas
17th March, 2017Dr. Najwa Mhana
Durham University
The changing Earth: Monitoring changes in Earth structure using tomography

2015 – 2016 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
16th October, 2015Dr. Ceri Nunn
Structure of Mt. Etna
20th November, 2015Dr. Rick Smith
FWS Consultants
The recent polyhalite discoveries in North Yorkshire
18th December, 2015Members’ evening
1. John WaringFrom Deserts to Deltas
2. Les BarnesThe Isle of Purbeck; a geologist’s paradise
3. Gordon LiddleGordon will lead a display and discussion of members favourite specimens–rocks, fossils, maps or photos. Please everyone bring something along!
15th January, 2016Dr. 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, 2016Dr. Brian Young
Durham University
Mapping it out: William Smith 200 years on
18th March, 2016Prof. Mike Bentley
Durham University
Antarctic ice sheets and climate change

2014 – 2015 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
17th October, 2014Prof. Andy Aplin
Durham University
A New Dawn for Shale: Oil, Gas and CO2 Storage
21st November, 2014Dr. Darren Grocke
Durham University
A Brief History of Stable Isotopes: from Kangaroos to Forensics to Botany and the Mesozoic
12th December, 2014Members’ evening
1. Gordon WilkinsonUluru and Kata Tjuta – the geology of a unique area
2. Gordon HullPeople I’ve met on the road from Stanley to Pangaea
3. Christine TaylorA particular quarry in Gloucestershire
16th January, 2015Dr John Nudds
Univ. Manchester
Chinese Dinosaur Embryos
20th February, 2015Lesley Dunlop
Northumbria University
Chromite, tungsten and iron: Mineral deposits and mines in Portugal
20th March, 2015Prof. Chris R. Stokes
Durham University
Poles Apart? Glaciers and Climate Change in the Arctic and Antarctic

2013 – 2014 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
18th October, 2013Dr. 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, 2013Members’ evening
1. Gordon WilkinsonUluru and Kata Tjuta – the geology of a unique area
2. John WaringRocks under the microscope; making thin sections by an amateur
3. Christine BurridgePeaks, Penguins and the Peninsula – Some Antarctic Observations
17th January, 2014Dr. Richard J. Brown
Durham University
Natural Born Killers: The Nature and Hazards of Pyroclastic Density Currents
21st February, 2014Prof. Jon Gluyas
Durham University
Getting Into Hot Water: Exalting Low-Enthalpy Geothermal Opportunity in the UK
21st March, 2014Brian Young
Durham University
The Stones of Durham

2012 – 2013 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
19th October, 2012Dr. Martin A. Whyte
Univ. Sheffield
Tracking Yorkshire’s Dinosaurs
16th November, 2012Ken Bradshaw
Heritage Officer, Limestone Landscapes Partnership
Landscape of the Durham Magnesian Limestone
14th December, 2012Members’ evening
1. Les BarnesGeology of the Perigord, France, with respect to iron production in the 17th Century
2. Nigel SpragueThe Highland Controversy
3. Bruce JulianEnergy from a Hot Rock
18th January, 2013Russell Bayliss
Parsons Brinckerhoff
New Tyne Crossing – The Quaternary Ground Model
15th February, 2013Edward D. Dempsey
Durham University
Building the Misty Mountains of Middle Earth- New Zealand’s Southern Alps
15th March, 2013Dr. Anthony H. Cooper
British Geological Survey
My house fell in a hole – problems with soluble rocks;  wiches in Cheshire and the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland?

2011 – 2012 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
21st October, 2011Dr. Phil Manning
Univ. Manchester
Dinosaurs, space shuttles and synchrotrons
18th November, 2011Dr. Rachel WoodUniv. EdinburghThe dawn of biomineralisation
16th December, 2011Prof. Richard Davies
Univ. Durham
The Lusi mud volcano disaster, Indonesia: Why and what next?
20th January, 2012Dr. Lisa Baldini
Univ. Durham
to be announced
17th February, 2012Prof. Philip Gibbard
Univ. Cambridge
The last glacial cycle in lowland England
16th March, 2012Dr. Mike Norry
Univ. Leicester
Shetland; the evolution of geology, language and people

2010 – 2011 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
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

DateSpeakerTitle
2009
October 20th
Prof. Dean PresnallUniv. Texas (Dallas) & Carnegie Institution of WashingtonWhat is experimental igneous petrology?
2009
November 17th
Dr. Michael LimUniv. DurhamCoastal rock cliff erosion: where to draw the line?
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 HobbsUniv. DurhamSeismic 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

DateSpeakerTitle
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
Tephrochronology, resilience and limits to adaptation: lessons from the Viking settlement of the North Atlantic
2009
January 23rd
Dr. Jennifer A. Tait
Univ. Edinburgh
Snowball Earth – Fact or Fiction?
2009
February 20th
Dr. Jeroen van Hunen
Univ. Durham
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

DateSpeakerTitle
2007 September 21stJeff 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. ArmstrongDurham UniversityOrdovician 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

DateSpeakerTitle
2006 September 22ndDr. 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
Iron in clay minerals: a curse or a cure?
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
The use of gold mineralogy to establish potential sources of gold exploited during the Bronze Age in Ireland
2007
March 16th
Prof. Peter Clift
Aberdeen University
Mountain building and monsoons in the formation of Asia

2005 – 2006 programme

DateSpeakerTitle
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, [email protected], 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.

Back

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, [email protected], 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.

Back

Coastal rock cliff erosion: where to draw the line?

Michael Lim, Dept. Geography, University of Durham, Science Labs., South Rd., Durham DH1 3LE, UK [email protected] 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.

Back

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 [email protected], 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’.

Back

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.

Back

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.

Back

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.

Back

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.

Back

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…

Back

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 DurhamRetired District Geologist, Northern England, British Geological SurveyI’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.

Back

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.

Back