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Programme of Indoor Meetings 2010 - 2011

Wednesday 13 October 2010 at 19:00 - Meteorites, Stardust and the Early Solar System

Professor Jamie Gilmour, University of Manchester

Refreshments available from 18:00. Talk commences at 19:00

The formation of stars and solar systems is a hot topic in astronomy, where new insights are continuously emerging from observations of star forming regions such as the Orion molecular cloud.

Another line of evidence comes from meteorites. Rather than looking out into space, these allow us to look back through time and study the formation of our own solar system. Meteorites provide us with evidence of geological processes on the first asteroids to form - the bodies from which terrestrial planets like the Earth eventually grew. They also provide insights into the environment of solar system formation and the formation of the chemical elements in previous generations of stars.

In this talk Jamie Gilmour, a planetary scientist in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science at the University of Manchester, will introduce the field of meteorite research, present some findings about the formation of our solar system, and discuss how they relate to the picture being developed from astronomical observation.

Saturday 13 November 2010 at 10:30 - The Broadhurst Lectures: Jurassic Seas, Jurassic Skies

Many MGA members will remember Dr. Fred Broadhurst, a former member of staff in the Geology Department (as then was) of Manchester University, with great affection. Fred, a past-President and honorary member of the MGA, who died in October last year, gave great encouragement and support to the MGA and its members over many decades. In this day of talks, the MGA celebrates the life and work of Fred, by looking at some topics that he himself was interested in, given by people who knew and worked with him.

Burrowing Bivalves and Shuffling Shrimps: What can trace fossils tell us about the sediments in the Jurassic? - Dr. Peter Hardy, University of Bristol

Feeding Habits of Jurassic Ichthyosaurs and Sharks - Dr. John Pollard, University of Manchester

Breathing New Life into Old Bones: bringing plesiosaurs to life - Dr. Leslie Noè, University of Cambridge

Jurassic Pterosaur Diversity - Dr. David Martill, University of Portsmouth

The Life of Archaeopteryx - Dr. Derek Yalden, University of Manchester

In the Jurassic Britain lay about twenty degrees north of the Equator, enjoying a warm Caribbean climate. The sea level was much higher than today, so that most of lowland Britain was submerged. Forests of cycads, ferns and pines covered the land.

Marine life thrived in the warm seas - crinoids, corals, ammonites, belemnites and fish. A variety of predators, such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, hunted them. Ichthyosaurs, dolphin-shaped reptiles with long, tooth-lined jaws, extremely large eyes and flipper-like limbs, fed on fish and belemnites. Another group of predators, the plesiosaurs, had very long necks and two pairs of flippers used for swimming. Some species of ichthyosaur and plesiosaur grew to a very large size and would have been formidable hunters.

Pterosaurs also hunted fish - from the air! They were flying reptiles (in fact, the earliest known flying vertebrates) possessing long jaws lined with teeth, the front ones of which were usually longer than the others and ideal for impaling fish. The fourth digit of the forelimb had become greatly elongated, strengthened and covered by a membrane to form a wing. Also flying in the late Jurassic were the first birds, Archaeopteryx, which had wings and tail covered by feathers, whilst retaining some reptilian features, such as teeth-lined jaws and a bony tail.

Meeting notes. More detailed notes on the individual lectures are available in pdf or Word format.

Saturday 11 December 2010 at 13:30 - The Quaternary of the North West

New Insights into the pre Last Glacial Maximum Succession of East Cheshire - Professor Peter Worsley, University of Reading

The last Ice Sheet and later Glaciers in Wales: Timings, Extents and associated Palaeoclimates - Dr. Phil Hughes, University of Manchester

Moraines and Outwash Plains: A Re-assessment of the late Devensian in South Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester - Dr. Dick Crofts, British Geological Survey

Glacial Lake Deposits and Reconstructing Deglaciation in Northwest England - Dr. Cathy Delaney, Manchester Metropolitan University

Amazing as it may seem, barely 20,000 years ago Manchester was buried under a glacier the best part of a kilometre thick. Following the initial suggestion by Agassiz that parts of Britain had been covered by ice, geologists searched for evidence of glaciation. In the north-west, for instance, Morton in Liverpool and Binney in Manchester diligently recorded the occurrence of tills and other phenomena, such as exotic boulders deposited by the ice (known as glacial erratics), scratches on rocks produced by glaciers sliding over them (glacial striae) and marine shells found on hillsides far removed from the sea.

This allowed informed deductions to be made as to the source and direction of movement of the ice. It was concluded that ice sheets forming on Scottish and Lakeland peaks had moved westwards and southwards through the Irish Sea, diverting in part across the Lancashire and Cheshire plains, through the Midlands Gap into Staffordshire and the West Midlands. Ice growing on the Welsh peaks joined this southward moving ice in the region of Wrexham. On the other hand Derbyshire appeared not to have been covered by this last major ice advance.

More recently there were further revelations following the uncovering of evidence in sand quarries near Chelford, in Cheshire, which indicated that a retreat and re-advance of the ice had occurred during a period previously thought to be glaciated throughout. Research into the Quaternary Period continues, and in these talks we will be given a timely update from a number of researchers working in the northwest.

Meeting notes. More detailed notes on the individual lectures are available in pdf or Word format.

Saturday 15 January 2011 at 13:30 - The Scottish Dalradian

The Dalradian of Scotland seen from the roadside and coast - Dr. Jack Treagus, University of Manchester

Dalradian Metamorphism: Patterns and Puzzles - Dr. Giles Droop, University of Manchester

Dalradian Mineralisation - Professor Richard Pattrick, University of Manchester

Sir Archibald Geikie, searching for a name to give a group of ancient rocks that stretched across the Highlands of Scotland and the northern part of Ireland, settled on the term 'Dalradian', after the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada, which was occupied by a tribe of Scottish and Irish Celts and covered the same area.

The Dalradian succession is a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks with minor volcanics that formed on the southern margin of a continent from late Precambrian to late Cambrian times. In early Dalradian times sandstones, mudstones and carbonates accumulated on a stable platform, but this platform started to founder into a series of basins by late Precambrian. Sea level rose during Cambrian times giving rise to a transgression in which shelf sediments were deposited further into the continental margin (the present-day north-west Highlands of Scotland).

In the early Ordovician this sequence of rocks was deformed, metamorphosed and subsequently mineralised during the Grampian Orogeny (an early phase of the Caledonian Orogeny) following the closure of the Iapetus Ocean. The remnants of this mountain chain stretch across the highlands and islands of Scotland, providing classic areas for the study of intensely folded rocks and the zonation of metamorphic minerals.

Meeting notes. More detailed notes on the individual lectures are available in pdf or Word format.

Wednesday 16 February 2011 at 19:00 - AGM followed by Presidential Address

Geology in Verse - Dr. Tony Adams, University of Manchester

One of the most popular poets of the nineteenth century and, some critics would say, the best English language poet of the twentieth century had strong links to Geology. We shall look briefly at these links, but focus on some of the lesser-known but more interesting poets who considered Geology an appropriate subject for versification.

Wednesday 9 March 2011 at 18:30 - Are the things we do to protect against natural hazards just making things worse?

Dr. Jeff Blackford, University of Manchester

Joint Meeting with the Geographical Association