Welcome to GSN



AUTUMN/WINTER 2023/2024 programm of GSN talks

GSN members and also any members of the general public are very welcome to attend.
The lectures will be held at 7.30pm in Room 0.01 in the Zuckerman Building (also known as ZICER) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) unless otherwise stated (e.g. the AGM) and directions to this venue are given below, after the list of talks for the current season.

When: October 19th 2023.
Speaker: Professor Murray Gray, Queen Mary University of London.
Title: International Geodiversity Day: "geodiversity is for everyone".
Summary: The word "geodiversity" was introduced exactly 30 years ago this month, shortly after the Convention on Biological Diversity was agreed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Many geoscientists recognised independently that they too study diverse natural phenomena that are frequently at risk from human activities. Since then, the geodiversity concept has snowballed and is now the focus of intensive international research activity. This talk will introduce the subject, outline how society benefits from living on a diverse planet, and describe the 18-month process of persuading UNESCO to designate 6th October each year as International Geodiversity Day.

When: November 16th 2023.
Speaker: Professor James Jackson, University of Cambridge.
Title: Insights from strange earthquakes: the exfoliation of cratonic Australia and thrust faulting at Mid-Ocean Ridges.
Summary: Unusual earthquakes are often missed in the wealth of data available in enormous on-line catalogues. Here are two examples. Very shallow large earthquakes in the middle of Australia reveal the peeling of the surface of the Archean craton in an exfoliation process. And thrust-faulting earthquakes at mid-ocean ridges challenge our current views on how sea-floor spreading works.

When: November 23rd 2023.
Speaker and Title: AGM and Presidential Address by Professor Julian Andrews, University of East Anglia: “Chasing coastal carbon: a 10,000 year odyssey from Doggerland to Denver”.
Summary: In this presentation I will discuss stores of sedimentary organic carbon in the southern North Sea with particular emphasis on coastal salt marshes. In particular I will show how those stores have changed size and character over the Holocene and how they are likely to change in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Along the way we will discuss how organic carbon is stored in a range of coastal and near coastal sedimentary environments. We will use palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, sedimentology, coastal geomorphology, physical oceanography and geochemistry to build the case as rising Holocene sea level pushes us back from the wild shores of Doggerland to the safe haven of the present Norfolk barrier coastline. The final analysis will show why geologists are needed in 'carbon accounting', and for the first time indicate how effective organic carbon storage really is in coastal sediments.

When: December 14th 2023.
Speaker: Don Aldiss, British Geological Survey (retired).
Title: Constructing Gondwana: geology in the Falkland Islands.
Summary: The Falkland Islands Geological Mapping Project (1995-1998) made a comprehensive revision of the onshore geological maps of the Islands. This talk explains how this work was carried out, and looks at some aspects of what was found. The bedrock ranges from a late Proterozoic basement complex to swarms of Jurassic dykes, but is dominated by Devonian to Permian sedimentary sequences, notably including a Permo-Carboniferous glacigenic formation and Permian ‘black shale’. Multiple phases of deformation have left their mark on the islands, from while they were part of Gondwana and also during supercontinent break-up. Quaternary deposits include the spectacular and enigmatic ‘stone runs’. The regional context of the Falklands encompasses parts of all the southern continents – but how did the Islands fit into Gondwana?

When: January 18th 2024.
Speaker: Dr Jonathan Lee, British Geological Survey.
Title: Seabed mapping around the coast of north Norfolk and its links to the adjacent onshore record – new insights into the glacial history.
Summary: BGS has recently started a new offshore seabed mapping programme aiming to characterise the geology and geomorphology of the seabed around parts of the UK continental shelf. The seabed between Weybourne and Winterton-on-Sea – extending up to 20 km offshore, has recently been mapped as part of this programme. Within this presentation, we outline how we approach geological mapping of the seabed and examine some of the exciting new geological findings the mapping has demonstrated including the extent of the chalk reef, glaciotectonic rafting and tracing onshore glacial events offshore.

When: March 21st 2024.
Speaker: Professor Steve Donovan, Naturalis – Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity.
Title: Putting a face on the Salthill Bug: palaeoecology of borings in Mississippian crinoids, Lancashire.
Summary: The ichnogenus Oichnus Bromley (= small round holes) is uncommon between the Carboniferous and Triassic. Uncommonly, fossil crinoids from Salthill Quarry, Lancashire, England (Mississippian, Chadian) were infested by pits assigned to Oichnus paraboloides Bromley. The infesting organisms were not predatory; the pits were certainly protective domiciles and harvesting of plankton may be considered parasitic on the host’s food source. The organisms that produced solitary O. paraboloides were likely reproducing by shedding their gametes into the water column. In contrast, gregariousness may have been necessary for an organism that reproduced by copulation, a habit similar to extant balanid barnacles.

Directions to the venue at the UEA (see the two maps/images below):


Below are the lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2022/2023

When: 20th October 2022, 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Speaker: Professor David Dobson, University College London.
Title: Geology of the Inaccessible: Experimentally simulating the deep interior of the Earth
Summary: The deepest direct access we have to the Earth’s interior comes from deep continental boreholes - which extend to around 13 km. That leaves around 6,500 km depth where we have to rely on remote geophysical observations, such as seismic tomography. We have developed techniques to generate the extremes of pressure and temperature (millions of atmospheres and thousands of Centigrade) in the laboratory to complement and interrogate the geophysical observations. Using examples taken from the last 30 years of my research and some practical demonstrations, I will give some examples of the kinds of measurements we can do, from generating microscopic earthquakes, to simulating core conditions.

When: 17th November 2022, 7.30 pm.
Where:Where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Speaker: Dr Natasha Barlow, University of Leeds.
Title: The complicated seabed geology underlying offshore wind
Summary: Offshore wind energy is seen as key to meeting net zero targets and has been promoted by the UK government as part of its green recovery. However, it is not just engineering solutions that provide the foundation for this green growth; but also the geology beneath the seabed. As the industry collects more data, the geological record is proving to be far more complicated, and revealing, than previously envisaged.

When: December 15th 2022, 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Speaker: Dr Molly Trudgill, University of St Andrews and Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Paris.
Title: Ancient killers: the role of ocean acidification at mass extinction events
Summary: Mass extinctions have repeatedly perturbed the course of life throughout Earth’s history and have long been hypothesised to be driven by major perturbations to the carbon cycle. By reconstructing ocean pH through these events we can understand the magnitude of these perturbations and the role of ocean acidification as an extinction driver. This is also a message for our society as our actions perturb the carbon cycle at an almost unprecedented rate, stressing the importance of rapid climate action.

When: January 19th 2023, 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Speaker: Professor David Horne, Queen Mary University of London.
Title: Pleistocene palaeoclimate reconstruction for East Anglia: a multi-proxy approach
Summary:Understanding early human occupation in East Anglia demands an understanding of palaeoclimate at sites such as Hoxne, West Stow and Happisburgh. The methods that rely on single proxies for climate will be examined critically and a more powerful approach described that searches for climatic consistency among multiple groups of organisms.

When: February 16th 2023, 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, in the ZICER Building. PLEASE NOTE: THIS WILL BE IN A DIFFERENT ROOM TO NORMAL: ZICER 0.02 (lecture room along from our usual room, on the left of the corridor).
Speaker: Professor Andy Gale, University of Portsmouth.
Title: The Paul Whittlesea Lecture for 2023: What happened in the Late Cretaceous? A new look at the chalk.
Summary:For a long time, the chalk was viewed by many geologists mostly as a source of (not usually very common) fossils and its stratigraphy was largely based on the distribution of these. More recently, research has demonstrated the presence in the chalk of climatically-driven cyclicity (Milankovitch cycles) and that the chalk also preserves a remarkable record of the Cretaceous carbon cycle. The placid environment envisaged for the chalk sea floor was dramatically interrupted by geostrophic currents which cut deep (up to 100m+) channels into which sediment slumped..

When: 16th March 2023 (to be confirmed), 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, in the ZICER Building. PLEASE NOTE: THIS WILL BE IN A DIFFERENT ROOM TO NORMAL: ZICER 0.02 (lecture room along from our usual room, on the left of the corridor).
Speaker: Richmal Paxton, University of East Anglia.
Title: Temperature measurements in Jurassic sediments of the Inner Hebrides, using clumped isotopes
Summary: Jurassic sediments are still preserved (in some areas, very well) in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, despite the Paleocene eruption of the Hebridean Igneous Province. We have measured C13-O18 clumped isotopes of carbonate fossils and diagenetic cements from the Jurassic sedimentary succession in order to derive their original precipitation temperatures. Through this we have new insights into the depositional paleoenvironment and diagenetic history of the sediments, and their interactions with the later magmatism.
(Organiser’s note: The clumped isotope technique for measuring former temperatures in rocks is at the cutting edge of current research and was partly developed at UEA. Come and hear Richmal explain the latest findings from her recently completed PhD studies.)

Below are the lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2021/2022

When: Thursday 21st October, 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Title: Pterosaurs of the Sahara.
Speaker: Professor Dave Martill, University of Portsmouth.
The room will be arranged to enable social distancing and you are encouraged to wear a face mask.
Please let Peter Riches know if you plan to attend and will be bringing any guests.

When: Thursday 18th November, 7.30 pm.
Where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Speaker: Dr Emma Liu from University College London.
Dr Emma Liu is a volcanologist with a special interest in volcanic gas emissions and their use as tracers of magmatic processes beneath the surface. Her work combines adventurous expeditions to remote volcanoes with rapid-response field work at newly erupting sites. Her talk will include accounts of a sailing voyage to sample the youngest new crust on the land surface of the earth, at the super-active volcanic arc in the South Sandwich Islands, and of the current eruptions taking place in La Palma, Canary Islands.
Title: Exploring remote volcanoes and managing not-so-remote eruptions.
Abstract: Volcanoes provide a fascinating window into understanding the magmatic systems that lie beneath the Earth's surface. My research focuses on using the gas emissions released by volcanoes to learn more about what causes eruptions and how volcanoes impact on our atmosphere and climate. As a volcanologist, I am motivated by both a love of exploration and by the need to help mitigate the impacts caused by volcanic eruptions. This talk will take you on two journeys: the first part will take you on a voyage of exploration to the Antarctic to explore the remote, and largely uncharted, volcanoes of the South Sandwich Islands, and the second part will discuss the ongoing volcanic eruption in La Palma (Canary Islands) and how the volcanological community have pulled together to respond to this emergency.

When: Thursday 16th December, 7.30 pm.
where: University of East Anglia, Room O.01 in the ZICER Building.
Speaker: Professor Phil Gibbard of Cambridge University.
Title: The glaciation of Fenland during Marine Isotope Stage 6, ca. 150,000 years ago.
Abstract: tbc

More events for the Autumn/Winter 2021/2022 season will be added soon


Thursday 17th October 2019, 7.30 pm at University of East Anglia, Room 0.01, ZICER Building
Title: Little Heath – a Pliocene shoreline on the Chiltern Hills and crustal uplift in SE England.
Speaker: Tim Atkinson, University College London and Geological Society of Norfolk.
Little Heath is a Site of Special Scientific Interest at an altitude of ca.170 m on the dip slope of the Chilterns. The deposits there consist of gravels and sands overlying a thin layer of Reading Beds with Chalk beneath. Interpreted as shoreline marine deposits, they were of uncertain age until a programme of cosmogenic nuclide dating was initiated in 2013 by the late John Catt. This talk will describe the site, the dating results and their implications for the uplift of SE England during the last 3 million years.

Thursday 14th November 2019, 7.30 pm at University of East Anglia, Room 0.01, ZICER Building.
Title: Adam Sedgwick – from Flood to Eiszeit.
Speaker: Douglas Palmer, Sedgwick Museum, University of Cambridge..
Adam Sedgwick was one of the most famous of the theological geologists of the 19th century but he was not a doctrinaire fundamentalist. Although initially interpreting the superficial deposits of East Anglia as products of some great flood, he came to accept Agassiz’s theory of the ‘Eiszeit’ (Ice Age) as the formative agent. Sedgwick’s accumulation of mammoths, giant deer and other remains of the Ice Age megafauna grew like the proverbial ‘Topsy’. The collection outgrew the original Woodwardian collection and Sedgwick’s 1840 Geological Museum and even his 1906 memorial museum. Our new ‘Ice Age’ exhibit draws on just a small sample of these fossil riches. Following an historical introduction to Sedgwick and his collections, the talk will explain the rationale behind the Sedgwick Museum’s current ‘Ice Age’ display. And, how do the recent A14 finds fit into all of this?

Thursday 5th December 2019, 7.30 pm at University of East Anglia, Room 0.01, ZICER Building.
Title: Oh - we did like to be beside the seaside: a short history of Norfolk’s coastal dynamics.
Speaker: Dr John Bacon, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Lowestoft.
John Bacon today mostly works on water quality. However, he has much experience in coastal dynamics, especially sand movement. His lecture will review the changes in the knowledge base of Norfolk coastal dynamics: what we have learnt and how we’ve learnt it since the days of Keith Clayton, Nick McCave and Chris Vincent (all at UEA in the period 1967 to 2010). His lecture will frame the recent activity at Bacton where sand recharging (sandscaping) of the beach was ongoing in summer 2019.

Thursday 16th January 2020, 7.30 pm at University of East Anglia, ZICER Building.
The Paul Whittlesea Lecture: 'Chalk Karst – a new view of groundwater in the Chalk'
Speaker: Andy Farrant, British Geological Survey, Keyworth.
The Chalk has traditionally been viewed by hydrogeologists as a non-karstic aquifer. In recent years, evidence from geological mapping, site investigations and tracer tests has highlighted the abundance of solution features (karst) in the Chalk. This talk will illustrate the nature of Chalk karst, the influence of Chalk lithology and geological structure on groundwater flow, and the work being done in collaboration with water companies and the Environment Agency to better understand the Chalk aquifer.

Thursday 20th February, 7.30 pm at University of East Anglia, ZICER Building.
Title: 'Escape from Snowball Earth'
Speaker: Professor Ian Fairchild, University of Birmingham.
Several times in Precambrian Earth history, the Earth is thought to have fallen in to a deep-frozen state. A planet in such a condition will efficiently reflect solar radiation which reinforces the climate catastrophe. The only means of escape is to allow greenhouse gases to accumulate in the atmosphere over millions of years. Although this Snowball Earth scenario originally emerged from climate models it fits with the geological evidence for sea-level glaciation at low palaeolatitudes. This talk concerns the gripping story of a Snowball Earth event 640 million years ago that emerges from the geology in the present-day icy wastes of Svalbard.

Thursday 19th March, 7.30 pm at University of East Anglia, ZICER Building.
Title: Learning to live with volcanic activity. Presidential lecture. This meeting will be preceded by a short Annual General Meeting.
Speaker: Professor Jenni Barclay
Volcanic eruptions are as varied as they are fascinating. But, this variability creates real challenges for both scientists and the populations who live within their reach. This lecture explores volcanic variability and the uncertainties it creates, and some of the ways we can rise to these challenges during volcanic crises.

Thursday 23rd April, 7.00 pm at University of East Anglia, ZICER Building.
Members evening – more details to follow: NB the slightly earlier start time

Below are the lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2018/19

Our Autumn Programme features a double bill of talks on the geological records of meteorite impacts on Britain.

Thursday October 18th, at 7.30 pm.
Title: Searching for a giant meteorite impact in Scotland
Speaker: Dr Mike Simms, National Museums Northern Ireland
'In 2011 I went on a geological holiday to Scotland. We stopped to look at a recently recognised meteorite impact deposit in north-west Scotland, the Stac Fada Member (see photo to the right), intending merely to collect a few pieces before moving on to other things. But some chance observations developed into a major research project, and a search for Britain's first impact crater. This talk will describe the events that led to this discovery, some unexpected outcomes from it, and ongoing work that has implications for understanding Scotland's geology'.

Thursday November 15th, at 7.30pm.
Title: Discovery of a meteorite ejecta layer deposit at the base of the Palaeocene, Isle of Skye, NW Scotland.
Speaker: Andrew Drake and Andrew Beard, Birkbeck Unversity of London
This lecture will describe the recently-published discovery of meteorite impact debris in the Isle of Skye and discuss its significance. We have found part of the actual meteorite that impacted on what is now the Isle of Skye between 62-60 Ma. Our samples contain vanadium-rich Osbornite and niobium-rich Osbornite. Neither mineral has ever been found on Earth before. They provide compelling evidence of extra-terrestrial derivation. We have also found associated shocked minerals to support our claims. The impact occurred at very early stage in Skye's volcanic evolution and acted as a subsequent driver for volcanism. We do not know the point of impact but very recently have discovered morer sites containing impact-derived ejecta material at the base of Palaeocene lavas elsewhere in the British Palaeogene Igneous Province.

Thursday January 10th 2019, at 7.30pm.
Title: The study of buildings stones: architectural history and geological outreach.
Speaker: Dr Ruth Siddall, University College London.
The study of building stones in the UK has been an active field of study for many years, though academic geologists often regard this topic as one for amateur geologists with little purpose outside outreach activities. This talk aims to take an alternative, architectural and art historical viewpoint and to present some adventures in urban geology. These include studies of Rococo sculpture and East Anglian rubble-built churches, and much in between, to show that a knowledge and understanding of building and sculptural materials has been an essential aspect of our built heritage and cultural histories.

Thursday February 7th 2019, at 7.30 pm.
Title: Rolling Over: Our Changing Coastline.
Speaker: Professor Julian Andrews, University of East Anglia.
An examination of rates of coastal change in N Norfolk from the millennial (Holocene) through centennial to annual scales. Emphasis will be on the roles of sea level change and sediment supply in this process, finishing with an examination of historical changes in the Cley-Salthouse area, including the effects of recent storm surges on barrier movement.

Thursday March 21st, at 7.30 pm.
The Paul Whittlesea Lecture will be delivered by Mark Woods, British Geological Survey (Keyworth, Nottingham).
Title: Unlocking the story of the Chalk of East Anglia
The Chalk is one of the most important geological units across south-east England. The need to understand its geology is driven by its significance for water supply, vulnerability to pollution and host for major road, rail and tunnel infrastructure. A clear picture of the Chalk's variability and geological history has emerged for many areas, but East Anglia remains an enigma. Recent work has shown that the character of the Chalk in East Anglia is probably linked to the geological history and structure of much more ancient geological units at depth. This talk will put the Chalk of East Anglia in a global and national context, and review the factors that shaped the Cretaceous environment of the Chalk across East Anglia.

Thursday 25th April, at 7.30 pm.
GSN AGM and Presidential Address. 'Out of the darkness: how stalagmites illuminate ancient climates.'
Speaker: Dr Reter Rowe, University of East Anglia.
Stalagmites contain geochemical signals that are strongly influenced by climate and which are transmitted down from the land surface above the cave by seepage waters. Also, they can be accurately and precisely dated by the uranium-thorium method and this has allowed records of climate change to be documented as far back as ~500,000 years, or five glacial-interglacial cycles. However, unravelling the contributions of diverse and interrelated climatic components can be challenging since rainfall and temperature responses to changing ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns are complex. Nevertheless, advances in both instrumentation and understanding of climate-to-cave transmission processes over the past twenty five years have propelled stalagmites to the forefront of palaeoclimate research. Several examples will be presented to astonish and inform.
Venue: Elizabeth Fry building, Lecture room 01.02
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TALK WILL BE AT A DIFFERENT VENUE! Elizabeth Fry building, Lecture room 01.02,

Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2017/18

Thursday 16th November 2017
Robin Renaut (University of Saskatchewan, UEA and GSN member)
Modern and ancient soda lakes of the Kenya Rift: Tectonics, climate, hot springs, hominins and about a million flamingos.

Thursday 14th December 2017
Dr Adrian M. Wood (School of Energy, Construction and Environment at Coventry University)
A Fracking Conundrum. There are many facets to the fracking story - from petroleum science and seismology, to energy security and economics. This talk will provide a critical, yet balanced, assessment of the impact of induced hydraulic fracturing [or fracking] in the United Kingdom.

Thursday 18th January 2018
The Paul Whittlesea Lecture
Haydon Bailey (Network Stratigraphic Ltd.; former President of the Geologists’ Association; Hertfordshire Geological Society)
Holo-stratigraphy of the Chalk in the North Sea.

Thursday 8th February 2018
Jon Gluyas (CeREES Centre for Geo-energy, University of Durham)
UK National energy security and sustainability; can East Anglia lead the way?

Thursday 8th March 2018
Bridget Wade (University College London)
Title: In a piece of chalk.
Abstract: Chalk / carbonate ooze covers more of the seafloor than any other sediment. This talk will explore some of the microfossils that make up the chalk (mainly planktonic foraminifera), and the secrets revealed from ocean coring.

Thursday 26th April 2018 AGM followed by the Presidential Address
Jonathan Lee (British Geological Survey)
Title: The form, structure and evolution of the rock-head surface beneath East Anglia.
Abstract: 'Geological rockhead’ (cf. engineering rockhead) can be defined as the surface that separates the bedrock geology from the superficial or drift geology. Across East Anglia, this surface conforms to the top of the Chalk Group and London Clay Formation and is largely buried beneath a veneer of younger geology. Understanding the geometry, form and origins of the rockhead surface is important to both applied geologists and geologists. From an applied perspective, rockhead is relevant to civil engineers as well as geologists managing groundwater and geothermal resources. The rockhead surface also provides important clues to the longer-term geological evolution of the region during the Late Cenozoic (the last 20 million years) highlighting the influence of neotectonics upon drainage development and patterns of sedimentation. Within this lecture, a new rockhead model for the region is presented and its broader significance outlined.
Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2016/17

GSN members and also any members of the general public are very welcome to attend.

Thursday 10th November 2016
Professor Tony Stuart (University of Durham)
Vanished Giants: the Great Ice Age Extinction
In 1876 Alfred Russell Wallace observed, with remarkable insight: “we live in a zoologically impoverished world from which all the hugest and fiercest and strangest forms have recently disappeared. It is surely a marvellous fact and one that has hardly been sufficiently dwelt upon, this dying out of so many large Mammalia, not in one place only, but over half the land surface of the globe”. What killed off the mammoths, woolly rhinos, sabre-tooths, giant ground sloths and so many other spectacular giants (‘megafauna’), that thrived on all continents (except Antarctica) during the late Quaternary; some until only a few thousand years ago ? We tend to think of these extinct giants as almost unreal ‘prehistoric monsters’. However, this is looking at it entirely the wrong way around. As recognized by Wallace, the unusual times are now; these beasts should still be with us if something drastic and extraordinary had not happened. What was responsible for their demise - humans, climate change, a combination of both – or perhaps something else?

Thursday 8th December 2016
Owen Green (University of Oxford)
Colouring the landscape: the extraordinary life of William Smith and the birth of a science
This presentation will put into context the life and work of William Smith, the author of the first geological map of England, Wales and part of Scotland. It will examine aspects of life in Britain at the time of his birth in the mid-18th century and his influence and legacy to subsequent generations of geologists. Smith was born in 1769 in the small West Oxfordshire village of Churchill, the son of a local blacksmith. His birth coincided with the start of the industrial revolution and an important time during the agricultural revolution. This was all against an intermittent back-drop of war against the ‘old enemy’, France, and the rise of the British Empire with a social and economic system still evident today. Following a basic education at the village school and time spent on his uncle’s farm in the nearby village of Over Norton, Smith became an assistant to a land surveyor from Stow-on-the-Wold in 1787. Sent on assignment to Somerset, there is evidence that he was introduced to the work of a local pioneer ‘geologist’. Remaining in the area, his geological knowledge and understanding of the relationship and surface expression of strata and its distribution and attitude below the surface was further increased. He also recognised the value of fossil remains present within the rocks and that when seen the sedimentary layers always occurred in a particular order. A tour of the country for the Somerset Coal Canal Company allowed Smith to examine engineering structures, methods of land drainage, and by being lowered down mine shafts the examination of the attitude of sub-surface strata. Following his dismissal from the Somerset Coal Canal in April 1799, Smith spent the rest of his working life seeking employment as a mineral surveyor, land drainer or sea-defence engineer and collecting information to support his thoughts on the value of fossils and for his great map. The map, coloured to depict the extent of different rock types, first published in 1815, was a work of genius and provided a legacy that supports many sub-disciplines of the science of geology.

Thursday 16 February 2017
Professor Ian Candy (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Greenhouse gases and global warming during the Quaternary: Why is the East Anglian record of interglacials so important ?
The records of interglacials in East Anglia indicate that south-east Britain was very warm even when global atmospheric CO2 levels were relatively low. This talk will survey the evidence that establishes this, and explore the reasons for it.

Thursday 23 March 2017
Elvin Thurston (Geological Society of Norfolk)
Why Norwich is a hilly city in a flat county, and why you can't swim in the River Yare at South Walsham (Advances in the understanding of the pre-glacial landscape of eastern Norfolk and relevant neo-tectonics).
This talk will present data about the pre-glacial landscape of eastern Norfolk that have never been published before. It will explain and correlate the results of papers published in the last 15 years into a coherent whole, and will include solid data about the evolution of the main rivers draining eastern Norfolk including what appear to be the proto-Wensum and the proto-Yare.
Please note that the Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held immediately before Elvin Thurston's lecture.

Thursday 15th June 2017, 7.30pm
Dr Ian Troth, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
Ups and Downs in the Palaeozoic: Sea Level Change in the Devonian of South America
This is a unique opportunity to hear about an area of the world that whilst distant from Norfolk still shares some interesting geological features in common (see abstract below).
As ever, both GSN members and members of the public are very welcome to attend.
Please note that this lecture will be held in a different venue to that used for the previous lectures this season:
. The venue is room 2.03 in the Zuckerman Institute for Connective Environmental Research (ZICER) at the University of East Anglia.
If approaching from the main UEA car park, the ZICER building is located c. 100m on the left before the Thomas Paine Study Centre (where the previous lectures this season have been held). A map of the UEA campus, with ZICER (the Zuckerman Building) being numbered as 44 and the Thomas Paine Study Centre being building no. 52, is available at:
The Devonian System of Bolivia is important for hydrocarbon exploration because the major gas reservoir (Huamampampa Formation) and source rock (Los Monos Formation) in the region are found within it. Recent intensive hydrocarbon exploration has been undertaken in the central and southern areas of the country with the Huamampampa Formation the main subsurface target.
The main Devonian outcrop is in the Sub-Andean trend, an active thrust belt, where thrusting and folding over the last 10Ma have complicated the subsurface stratigraphy. Similar structural complications can be observed along the Norfolk coastline but these are on a vastly smaller scale to those observed in the Andes. Resolving subsurface architecture using seismics is a challenge and the application of a standard lithostratigraphic division of the Devonian to the subsurface has produced ambiguous results.
Success has been achieved using biostratigraphy, particularly microfossils, since in the Bolivian Devonian there is a succession of distinctive marine microphytoplankton ‘events’. These are short-lived monospecific pulses of certain acritarchs and green algae. Four such events are recognised in Bolivia involving the acritarchs Evittia sommerii, Bimerga bensonii, Crucidia camirense and the alga Petrovina connata.
The aim of this study is to undertake a high resolution palynological study of surface Devonian exposures and characterise the microphytoplankton events in terms of precise stratigraphic position, stratigraphic extent, geochemistry and global context. Particular emphasis is placed on the association of ‘the billion dollar acritarch’, E. sommeri, with a major sea level rise interpreted as the Eifelian ‘Chotec Event’.

Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2015/16

Tim Atkinson
The Ripple Effect - geological adventures in Java and their consequences
The talk will describe how cave exploration and mapping was combined with water tracing and geological observations to assess the water resources of a karstic limestone region in Java, Indonesia, in 1982. The area was revisited 32 years later, when it was found that the 1982 work had formed the basis for development of the water resources and of piped water supplies for 100,000 people in a previously very impoverished region.

Tim Holt-Wilson (Presidential Address)
Till I See You Again: Ten Years of Conserving and Communicating Norfolk’s Earth Heritage
A review of what has been going on surrounding the Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership and Tim’s audit and planning work over the last 10 years, including a slideshow of the most interesting sites. He has said, “If I drop dead tomorrow that’s what I’d want people to remember me for.”
This meeting will also include the Annual General Meeting. Please forward agenda items and nominations for Committee members to Martin Warren.

David Stannard
Eccles Deserted Medieval Village - a type locality for recognising coastal change.
Charles Lyell identified the old church steeple at Eccles as an important marker in space and time when he visited the site in the 1840s. Ever since that time any geologist studying coastal erosion has followed, both metaphorically and physically, in the great man's footsteps. This lecture traces the history of coast erosion at Eccles, shows how the site today can still provide evidence of coastal evolution and suggests how what remains of the old church and village may be better recognised to ensure its integrity in the further monitoring of coastal change.

Jonathan Lee
The Middle Pleistocene glacial stratigraphy of northern East Anglia – a new tectonostratigraphic-parasequence approach.
Over the years, lithostratigraphy has been a widely-used tool employed by geologists attempting further understanding of the glacial deposits in northern East Anglia. However, application of the approach has resulted in various geological models and controversies. Many of these controversies stem from local stratigraphic complexities but also wider problems associated with the application of lithostratigraphy to formerly glaciated areas. Within this talk, a new tectonostratigraphic-parasequence approach (it’s not as frightening as it sounds!) is applied to the region in an attempt to overcome these issues with attention focused principally upon the surfaces (or zones) that bound major sediment packages. In addition to resolving many previous stratigraphic problems and providing a stratigraphic scheme that can be applied regionally, the approach offers an insight into the nature and form of the landscape during various phases of glaciation.

Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2014/2015:

Dr Vanessa Banks
Sinkholes - the work of the British Geological Survey.
Sinkholes - what are they and where do they occur? Occasional occurrences of sinkholes in Florida and further afield capture the attention of the media, particularly when they are associated with significant impact such as loss of life or significant damage. In 1987 Norwich experienced similar media attention when crown hole collapse occurred beneath a bus on Earlham Road. More recently, during February 2014, the media reported on an unusually high number of “sinkholes” in the South and South-East of England. This talk will describe why this occurred and how it impacted on the British Geological Survey (BGS), as well as describing the data and research that BGS undertakes to benefit stakeholders with an interest in karst geohazards.

Matthew Williams BSc MSc CGeol FGS
Norwich - the grain of the city
Most people who live or work in the city have a reasonable two-dimensional knowledge of the geographical layout; we geologists like to be able to add not only a third dimension beneath our feet, but also the fourth stretching back millions of years. In a multi-disciplinary approach, Matt Williams seeks to bring our present experience of Norwich within this 4D context which has controlled Man's physical development of the city, in both obvious and more subtle ways, for centuries. By 'reading the landscape' and using detailed local knowledge, he goes in search of a holistic model that can inform our understanding of the heavily re-sculpted city we see today, and one which maybe helps us to identify developments that go 'against the grain'.

Bob Markham
The Almond Whelks of the Crag
Over 200 years ago a shoemaker from Haddiscoe found a fossil almond whelk in the crag which led him to contemplate that the earth was more than 6000 years old. 3 million years ago Neptunea arrived in the North Sea and changed the ecosystem. Where did they come from and why is a clock useful to describe their morphology?
NB The AGM will also take place at this meeting

Dr Steve Donovan
Introduction to the Jamaica Geology with comments on a prehistoric Irish Stew
Jamaica is one of the most notable of the Caribbean islands geologically. It was first examined about 190 years ago by Henry De la Beche, who published a geological map of the eastern half of the island in 1827. Until the foundation of the Geological Survey Division of Jamaica in 1950, the island was visited sporadically by some notable and other eccentric investigators. The oldest rocks on the island are mid-Cretaceous and the succession is dominated by volcanics and intrusives, and diverse limestones. The terrestrial palaeontology is poorly known. Apart from a Lower Eocene rhinoceros and autochthonous Upper Pliocene land snails preserved in a deep water deposit, terrestrial organisms are only common in Late Quaternary cave deposits. Of these, the Red Hills Road Cave, discovered by students in 1987, is the most spectacular palaeontologically and, perhaps, the least impressive speleologically, but is an 'Irish Stew' of bones and shells that have been teased apart over the past 25+ years.

Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2013/2014:

Presidential address
Professor Tim Atkinson
Taking the Plunge into Deep Time : Landscape Evolution Comes of Age
The last thirty years have seen great advances in ways of measuring time in both geology and geomorphology. The talk will review some ideas of geological time before showing how methods such as fission track analysis and uranium-series dating can be applied to landscape evolution. From such studies we now know that 'geomorphic time' overlaps by tens of millions of years with the more classical 'geological time'. The talk will be illustrated by examples from Britain and elsewhere and will conclude with some thoughts on the interaction of landscape evolution with very long-term engineered structures such as radioactive waste repositories.

Professor Christopher Talbot
A Deep Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Waste Under East Anglia?
After outlining the nature, amount and present location of UK nuclear waste, current government plans for "a rewarded volunteered solution" will also be outlined. The problem is that many regions (like East Anglia) are not likely to volunteer because they do not appreciate they may be suitable. The rest of the talk will point out what little is known about the deep geology of East Anglia (and why we are so ignorant).

Professor Phil Gibbard
Testing the River Bytham Hypothesis
A reinterpretation of the sediments that have been postulated as the headwaters of a pre-Anglian 'Bytham river', aligned towards East Anglia across the Fenland. Recent work has shown that the 'Bytham river' could not have existed in the form suggested by some authors since pre-Anglian-age fluvial sediments are absent from the eastern Fenland basin margin.

Dr Jonathan Lee
The Origins of the Cromer Ridge Moraine Complex in North Norfolk
The Cromer Ridge is one of the most famous and prominent glacial landforms in Britain. It is widely interpreted as a moraine formed at the terminus of a major southwards advance of glacier ice into north Norfolk and the North Sea Basin during the Middle Pleistocene. New structural and geomorphological evidence reveals a far more complicated and extensive ice-marginal picture with the formation of the Cromer Ridge representing just one small part of the story. Within this talk we explore the new evidence and present a refined model for the glacial geomorphology of north Norfolk.

Dr Nick Ashton
Conquering the North: The Early Human Colonisation of Britain
The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) project has been investigating the history of human presence in north-west Europe over the last million years and how this record relates to changes in climate and environment. This talk will discuss the results of the project from the first colonisers at Happisburgh over 800,000 years ago to human survival in extreme conditions during the last ice age. The work is underlining the importance and uniqueness of Norfolk's heritage where geology combined with archaeology is answering questions of global importance.

Professor Jim Rose
The Bytham river story - key evidence for understanding pre-glacial environmental change and early human occupance in Britain.
Recently a number of papers by Phil Gibbard and colleagues have challenged the validity of the Bytham River and this case is to be presented in a lecture to the GSN in December 2013. The 'Bytham river story' will outline the evidence upon which the Bytham River was reconstructed and the background to how the research developed. There will be time for critical discussion of the cases for-and-against this pre-glacial river system (the largest in Britain before lowland glaciation). Hopefully, there will also be chance to discuss the wider significance of this system.

Dr Stuart Robinson
Whittlesea Lecture: Come on in, the water is lovely! New insights into Cretaceous climates.
Although sedimentological, palaeobotanical and palaeontological evidence can provide many insights into past climates, the quantification of variables such as ocean temperatures is necessary if we are to understand better how the climate system has operated in the past under very different boundary conditions (such as palaeogeography or atmospheric CO2 levels). This talk will review the latest techniques used to reconstruct past marine temperatures and discuss the implications of these results for our understanding of the behaviour of the Cretaceous oceans.

Professor Phil Gibbard
Testing the River Bytham Hypothesis
A reinterpretation of the sediments that have been postulated as the headwaters of a pre-Anglian 'Bytham river', aligned towards East Anglia across the Fenland. Recent work has shown that the 'Bytham river' could not have existed in the form suggested by some authors since pre-Anglian-age fluvial sediments are absent from the eastern Fenland basin margin. This is linked to the talk on 20 March by Professor Jim Rose.

Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2012/2013:

Mousehold Heath earth heritage trail
Tim Holt-Wilson
The new Mousehold Heath Earth Heritage Trail is opening up the story of over 450,000 years of Mousehold's geology and landscape, and its relationship with wildlife and industrial history. The Heath is a stack of glacial deposits resting on Crag and Chalk bedrock, and has been dug over many centuries as a source of brickearth, sand and gravel, flint and lime. The Trail takes in 18 points of interest, including the Heath's notable dry valley system and the findspot of a bout coupé Neanderthal handaxe.
The Trail was inspired by the late Professor Brian Funnell of UEA (and a founding member of this Society). It was a partnership project of Norwich City Council, Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership. It was funded by the Norfolk Biodiversity Project Fund and the Geological Society of Norfolk.

A new interpretation of the depositional history of the Early Crag in Norfolk and Suffolk
Dr Peter Riches
This talk will propose a new correlation for the Crag sequences at depth and in outcrop; suggest that the age of the "Norwich Crag" sequence is older than previously envisaged and underlain by a significant regional unconformity; argue that the main source of sediments was from the continent with no evidence for major rivers entering the East Anglian Crag basin during the earliest Pleistocene; discuss the influences of subsidence, uplift, and changes in sea level on the stratigraphic record in the Crag.

The curious case of the Stretham (Cambridgeshire) pliosaur
Dr Peter Hoare
Image to right: Left hind paddle of the Stretham pliosaur on display in The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, The University of Cambridge (Photograph: John McCullough, October 2012)

A pliosaur skeleton of considerable (but disputed) size was found in 1952 in Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay (ca 154.7–152.1 Ma) at Stretham, near Ely, Cambridgeshire. For various reasons, relatively few bones were collected by a local museum at the time, and then schools and private collectors were allowed to take what they wanted. When the importance of the find became apparent, attempts were made to recover the dispersed material. A few teeth and a small number of possible jaw fragments have survived from the cranial skeleton; about one-quarter of the post-cranial skeleton is known. Almost every step in the sixty-year-long history of study of the specimen has been contentious. A distinctive ‘scapula’ figured prominently in the naming of the pliosaur, but was later found to be an ilium. Between 1955 and 2004, the specimen has enjoyed the following scientific names: Pliosaurus sp., Pliosaurus macromerus, Stretosaurus macromerus and back to Pliosaurus macromerus. The age of the individual, its length, weight and pathology are all matters of controversy. Further research is planned.

The annual Paul Whittlesea Lecture:
Geological mapping in the Chalk
Dr Don Aldiss, British Geological Survey.
During the 1990s, there was a major revision of the lithostratigraphic subdivisions of the Chalk Group of southern and eastern England. Since then, BGS has progressively revised the geological maps of the Chalk according to this new scheme. This talk explains why the scheme was changed, and how the new Chalk formations are mapped.

Lectures that were held during the winter/spring season 2011/12:

Presidential Address 2012
The investigation of subglacial processes on modern and Quaternary glacial sediments
Professor Jane K. Hart (Department of Geography and Environment, University of Southampton)
Professor Hart has provided the following summary of her talk:

Norfolk not only has some of the best exposed glacial geology in the UK, but data from these sites have been an important component in many glaciological models over the last 30 years. The response of modern glaciers to climate change is poorly understood, and numerical models have failed to predict the rapid ice loss observed. This is probably because there are so few data concerning the nature of the subglacial environment, which is a key driver of glacier dynamics. Study of the subglacial conditions of modern glaciers is logistically difficult, so a combination of modern in situ studies with Quaternary till studies (from key sites such as those in Norfolk) is needed.

This talk will demonstrate results from subglacial wireless-probe experiments from Norway and Iceland, combined with sedimentology, micromorphology and CT scanning from Norfolk and discuss the following processes:
  • the subglacial deforming bed – field and microscale structures, till fabric development, rheological changes and till genesis;

  • subglacial rafting; and

  • rapid retreat associated with a subaqueous margin.

The Origin of Our Species
Professor Chris Stringer (Merit Research Leader in Human Origins, Palaeontology Department, The Natural History Museum)
Human evolution can be divided into two main phases. A pre-human phase in Africa prior to 2 million years ago, where walking upright had evolved but many other characteristics were still essentially ape-like. And a human phase, with an increase in both brain size and behavioural complexity, and an expansion from Africa. Evidence points strongly to Africa as the major centre for the genetic, physical and behavioural origins of both ancient and modern humans, but new discoveries are prompting a rethink of some aspects of our evolutionary origins, including the likelihood of interbreeding between archaic humans (for example the Neanderthals) and modern humans. See also Human evolution: the long, winding road to modern man.

James Frederick Jackson (1894–1966): boy genius of Hunstanton. The story of an extraordinary geologist
Ms Cindy Howells (Collections Manager [Palaeontology], National Museum of Wales, Cardiff).
In 1910 a small book was published about the geology of Hunstanton. The author was an uneducated boy of 15, who had a natural genius and passion for geology. This talk will reveal the previously unknown facts behind James Frederick Jackson, his Norfolk background, his dedication to collecting, and his moving life story. On view will be a small selection of his fossils, notebooks and other archive material.

The Paul Whittlesea Lecture: Forensic Geology
Dr Haydon W. Bailey (Network Stratigraphic Consulting Limited, Potters Bar).
Microfossils are playing an increasing role in forensic science and, in reality, a great deal of the day to day work carried out by commercial micropalaeontologists can be described as forensic in nature. The origins of the use of microfossils in criminal and similar cases will be outlined, and then a number of recent, high-profile, criminal trials in which foraminiferal and nannoplankton evidence played a very significant role will be described.

Cannibalism in Palaeolithic Britain
Dr Silvia Bello (AHOB Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Palaeontology Department, The Natural History Museum)
Cannibalism (the act of eating any type of tissue from another individual of its own kind) amongst sapiens and pre-sapiens humans has been suggested, rejected, accepted and criticised since the nineteenth century. Whilst cut-marks on faunal remains are usually seen as a direct manifestation of butchery activities, those on human remains are not considered an unequivocal evidence of cannibalism. This is mainly because cannibalism among humans has always been a taboo topic, and because cut-marks on human remains can be the product of ritual practices (such as defleshing) without consumption of the body.

The identification of nutritional cannibalism is hard to prove through osteological analyses. One often-used criterion to demonstrate cannibalism is the similarity of butchery traces (frequency and location) on human and animal remains from the same archaeological context.

In this talk, I will present cases of cannibalism around the world and how it has been recognised. In particular, I will provide details of the Upper Palaeolithic site at Gough’s Cave (Somerset, England) which has revealed interesting human behaviour associated with cannibalism. Here, not only humans bodies were cannibalised, but the skulls of some individuals fashioned into drinking cups. The use of human braincases as drinking cups and containers has extensive historic and ethnographic documentation, but archaeological examples are extremely rare. In the Upper Palaeolithic of western Europe, cut-marked and broken human bones are widespread in the Magdalenian (~15 to 12 ka BP) and skull-cup preparation seems to be an element of this tradition. The combination of cannibalism and skull-cup production at Gough’s Cave is so far unique in the European Upper Paleolithic. Direct age determinations on two of the vaults (~14,700 cal BP) make these the oldest dated examples of skull-cups in the archaeological record.