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Programme of Indoor Meetings 2009 - 2010

MGA President's Dinner - Saturday 26 September 2009 at Quarry Bank Mill in Styal Country Park

A geological stroll, guided by Fred Owen and Fred Broadhurst, round the newly restored garden, followed by dinner. Afterwards, a talk about the garden's history and restoration, by the Head Gardener


Wednesday 14 October 2009 - Conversazione at 18:00, wine, juice and nibbles; students welcome; lecture at 19:00 - Feathered Dinosaurs of China

Dr. John Nudds, University of Manchester

In little more than a decade many accepted theories of palaeontology have been turned upside down by some remarkable fossils coming out of China. Colourful insects, fossil birds, giant mammals, and most amazing of all - the 'Feathered Dinosaurs'. More remarkable is that these fossils are preserved complete with their soft tissue - so that they are giving us much more information on life in the early Cretaceous than we have ever seen.

The lecture will illustrate some of the more remarkable new species and will discuss exactly what they mean in terms of the evolution of the dinosaurs and of their descendants - the birds.

Wednesday 28 October 2009 at 19:00 - Spiders: The Ultimate Predators - 400 Million Years of Evolution

Dr David Penney, Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester

Given their geological longevity and numerical abundance in terms of both described species and numbers of individuals, spiders probably represent the most successful group of predators ever to have existed. This lecture explores important events in the spider fossil record, including origins, diversification, mass extinctions and co-radiation with their insect prey. It also examines how data derived from fossil spiders can be used to address interesting palaeobiological problems. Finally, new imaging techniques employed on fossil spiders will be illustrated. These now permit digital dissection of specimens trapped in amber to the point where they can be incorporated into cladistic analyses alongside their extant relatives.

The following book will be available for purchase at the reduced price of £35.00 (normal price £40.00 plus p+p):

Penney D. 2008. Dominican Amber Spiders: a comparative neontological approach to identification, faunistics, ecology and biogeography. Soft cover 176 pages 24 x 17 cm 88 colour photos, 11 black & white photos, 14 colour illustrations, 224 greyscale illustrations. ISBN 978-0-9558636-0-8.

Saturday 21 November 2009 at 10:30 - 17:00 - Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle

10:30 - 11:15 Darwin's Welsh Geology - Reverend Michael Roberts, Lancaster

11:15 - 12:00 Charles Darwin (1809-1882) - A Mercian 'Glacial' Geologist - Professor Peter Worsley, University of Reading

12:00 - 14:15 Lunch - bring packed lunch or use local cafes - and visit the Darwin Exhibition across the road at the Manchester Museum

14:15 - 15:00 Charles Darwin: Gentleman Geologist aboard H.M.S. Beagle - Dr. Robert Callow, University of Manchester

15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 - 16:15 The Beagle Collection as a Collection of Geological Objects: Acquisition, Usage and Continuing History - Dr. Lyall Anderson, University of Cambridge

16:15 - 17:00 On the Geological Origins of Darwinian Theory: Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace - Professor Jon Hodge, University of Leeds

H.M.S. Beagle set sail from Falmouth on the 27th December 1831 bound for South America, where it was to conduct the second leg of a coastal survey for the Admiralty. On board was the young naturalist, Charles Darwin, equipped with microscopes, collecting equipment and a library of reference books. Darwin had accepted the invitation of Captain Fitz-Roy, and the voyage would take him over the Atlantic to Brazil, Argentina, the Falklands, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, then across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia via the Galapagos and other islands, before returning home to Portsmouth on 2nd October 1836.

During the voyage Darwin was to have many adventures - discover large fossil mammals, ride with gauchos, and witness armed insurrection in Argentina, encounter savages and wonder at glaciers in Tierra del Fuego, see volcanic eruptions and survive a large earthquake in Chile. The journey was to be the major formative event in Darwin’s career. The large number of rock, fossil, plant and animal specimens he collected would provide much material for further investigation on his return home, resulting in several geological tomes and, ultimately, the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man.

More notes for the lectures

Saturday 12 December 2009 at 13:30 - Volcanoes and Volcanic Hazards

13:30 - 14:15 Diverse Volcanism of the Western Pacific Ocean Floor - Dr. Peter Floyd, University of Keele

14:15 - 15:00 Volcano-Ice Interactions in Iceland - Dr. Dave McGarvie, Open University

15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 - 16:15 Improving the Monitoring at Volcan de Colima, Mexico - Dr. John Stevenson, University of Manchester

Volcanoes can be broadly classified into three groups based on their tectonic setting: - those formed at constructive plate margins, at destructive plate margins, or within plates. The greatest outpouring of magma, mainly basaltic, takes place at ocean ridges (constructive margins), but this is mostly extruded as lava, not in the form of volcanic cones - an exception being Iceland.

The majority of volcanoes form above subduction zones at destructive margins. Volcanic island arcs (for instance, the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific or the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean) form where subduction of oceanic crust is taking place under oceanic crust. These consist of basalts and andesites, rarely dacites and rhyolites. Continental arcs (e.g. the western coast of the Americas - North, Central and South) form where subduction of oceanic crust is taking place under continental crust. These are predominantly andesites, but with more silicic rocks - dacites and rhyolites – than those seen in island arcs.

Other volcanoes occur within oceanic or continental plates (for example, the Hawaiian Islands, on oceanic crust, or the Auvergne of France and the Eifel region of Germany, on continental crust). These are attributed to hot-spots caused by mantle plumes – columns of heat rising from the core-mantle boundary. These tend to be more silicic and alkaline, often containing phonolites and trachytes.

More notes for the lectures

Saturday 16 January 2010 at 13:30 - Scenes from the Precambrian

13:30 - 14:15 Precambrian Shields - What can they tell us about the Origin of Continents? - Professor Hugh Rollinson, University of Derby

14:15 - 15:00 Early Life - The Archaean Story - Professor Euan Nisbet, Royal Holloway, University of London

15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 - 16:15 Continental Evolution during Archaean and Proterozoic times: The Palaeomagnetic Evidence - Dr. John Piper, University of Liverpool

The name 'Precambrian' dates from Adam Sedgwick's original investigations into the geology of Wales, where he dubbed the system of rocks 'Cambrian'. In Caernarvonshire he observed that some gnarled rocks underlay, and were therefore older than, the Cambrian rocks; these he termed pre-Cambrian.

Precambrian rocks form but a small percentage of the British succession; worldwide, however, they cover a much larger percentage of the earth's surface, occupying large parts of Canada, Greenland, North and South America, Scandinavia, Siberia, Africa, Arabia, India and Australia.

These Precambrian areas are of great economic importance, containing, as they do, most of the world's supply of industrially important metals, such as iron, nickel, cobalt, copper and zinc. They also host virtually all of the world's chromium, platinum, gold and diamonds.

From a purely geological point of view, though, Precambrian rocks are of the greatest importance for providing the only evidence we have to support and test theories about the formation of the earth, the evolution of continental crust, or the origins of the earliest life forms.

More notes for the lectures

Wednesday 17 February 2010 at 19:00 - AGM followed by the Presidential Address

Various Volcanoes - Vesuvius et al - Dr. Christine Arkwright, University of Manchester

A collection of images taken on visits to a range of volcanoes will be used to illustrate the wide variety of eruption styles, types of magma and tectonic settings seen around the world today. Sites include the currently active Etna, Vesuvius, Stromboli, Iceland and Hawaii, together with ancient volcanoes seen in the Auvergne, Scotland and the Lake District.

Wednesday 10 March 2010 at 18:30 - The Sichuan Earthquake Disaster

Professor David Petley, University of Durham
Joint Meeting with the Geographical Association, 18:30