Manchester Geological Association

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Newsletter - December 2007


A slightly delayed newsletter this time due to my new hip (I’m hopping along nicely thank you!) So it’s too late to say Merry Christmas, but not too late to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New year.

Our first meeting next year, on January 12th, is an in-depth look at Carbonatites and Alkaline rocks of the World with some very eminent speakers - see the Indoor Meetings page for some lecture notes.

Our AGM is on February 13th, do try to get along and share your ideas for the MGA with us all. Our Hon. Sec. Michael Aiers is standing down this time, so we shall need a new one and there are vacancies for one or two more council members. The Council meets four times a year and will welcome you with open arms!! Is this the year you will volunteer your services to your association? Please do!!

The March meeting is a joint one with the geographers…. NB in the Mansfield Cooper Building at 6.30 pm.

It’s the last chance to put your name down for the visit to Germany in May led by Dr John Nudds (see below)

The field programme is not yet finalised, but Jane tells me that there will be a visit to Styal on 14th June to compliment Fred Broadhurst’s and Fred Owen’s new work there ~ limited numbers ~ details next time.

Subscriptions are now due for 2008. If you don’t pay by Standing Order please send yours ASAP along with the enclosed form to Fred Owen. If you don’t already gift aid your subs, and are a tax payer, please do! If you have changed your address or email, please let Fred know ~~ NOW~ ~ It will save Fred a lot of bother if you can renew before the end of January.

Local heroes - the MGA is joining the GA and the GS in 2008 in celebrating 200 years of geology. We are having a celebratory weekend in April (see the Other Events page). Our Local Hero is the Carboniferous Period and the work done on it in Manchester and elsewhere in the 1960s.

With best wishes to all for 2008
Mary Howie, newsletter editor

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Visit to the Lagerstätten of Southern Germany with John Nudds

I now have more details about the trip. It will last 7 days including the travelling and visit the Hauff Museum and Ohmden Quarry (Holzmadan Shale), Jura Museum, Burgermeister Muller Museum and Haardt Quarry (Solnhofen Limestone), Messsel Pit and Darmstadt Museum, Herrenberg Museum and the underground slate mine in Bundenback (Hunsruck slate) and, hopefully Stuttgart Museum (depending on flight times).

The trip will leave on 17th or 18th May and will return on 24th or 25th May, depending on flights - this is a week earlier than previously envisaged. The cost should be around £500 including flights. I have around 8 people already interested so there is space for a few more - obviously the more people there are the cheaper it should become because of sharing certain costs.

I need to know by FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2008 if you are interested.

Jane Michael or 0161 366 0595

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Membership matters

Since the last Newsletter in September Council is delighted to extend a warm welcome to the nine new members who have joined the Association. This brings the total number of new members in 2007 to an exceptional thirty-five. So, with fifteen leavers, we have a net increase of twenty members, 13%.

Fred Owen, Membership Secretary

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North West Geologist

This is the last call for photographs to adorn the front cover of the next Issue of the NW Geologist. They must be of a geological feature in the North West and submitted to the Editor, Wendy Simkiss, by the end of February 2008 at the latest. Further details can be found on P2 of your copy of NW Geologist Issue 13.

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Greater Manchester RIGS Group

We are now installed in the newly furbished Resources Area in the Manchester Museum, Oxford Road. This has made access to the Geological records easier and has provided us with an excellent working environment.

We have received site information from Cheshire RIGS Group and now have a benchmark for designating potential sites in Greater Manchester. Visiting and comparing the Cheshire sites will make our task of ranking the Greater Manchester sites more effective and we are pleased to report that we are now considering four sites for designation as RIGS.

I attended UKRIGS Annual General Meeting on 3rd. November held in Liverpool John Moores University. This proved both informative and supportive with representatives from other RIGS group attending. After lunch we joined events for the Geologists’ Association Festival of Geology held in the Liverpool World Museum.

From 19 November to 1 December we held a display of local geology in Ashton-under-Lyne Heritage Centre. Our thanks to the staff for their help and interest.

We still need volunteers to assess our sites, so please, if you have time to spare, come and lend us a hand.

Marjorie E. Mosley, Secretary, Greater Manchester RIGS Group

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Report of a walk round the building stones of central Manchester

Jane Michael has written a report of a walk round the building stones of central Manchester, which took place in October. See the Photo Gallery also (when pics are available).

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Trafford Centre Stones Guide news

Fred Broadhurst writes:-

There is a new edition of the Trafford Centre Stones Guide now available, with details of their Great Hall and its Chinese rocks. I'll bring copies for distribution at indoor meetings but copies are available at the Customer Services in the Trafford Centre.

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Exciting developments at Quarry Bank House, Styal

Fred Broadhurst and I have been invited by the National Trust to help them with an exciting new project at the site of Quarry Bank Mill, Styal. The Trust recently acquired the original mill owner’s house, Quarry Bank House, situated in the grounds of the original quarry from where the stone was taken to build the mill. They are currently restoring the house and the gardens to their original glory. The house will be let privately but the grounds and gardens are to be opened to the public from the end of March 2008. The grounds, which have the R Bollin flowing through its gorge, will be a magnificent sight when restored.

There are superb, clean exposures of the ‘mottled’ red Triassic sandstone with many geological features not available to public view before. Fred B and I were asked if we would write a description of the geology in simple language for the public to be included in a leaflet, which will be available to visitors. We were granted permission to visit the site several times to take photos and to recheck our first observations. We handed over our work at the beginning of November and await the opportunity to proof read their leaflet. As a result of our contribution MGA will have first priority to take a field trip to the site and Jane will be organizing it for next summer.

Fred Owen

(The trip will be on June 14th, details later, limited numbers!)

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Liverpool John Lennon Airport Fossil Mystery Tour

On Tuesday 13 November Liverpool GS and the management of John Lennon Airport launched a leaflet describing the brilliant display of fossils in the floor tiles of the check-in, arrivals and shopping areas.

The airport owner is Peel Holdings and word got around about Fred Broadhurst’s guide to the stones in the Trafford Centre. The airport management, being keen to find something to make the John Lennon experience more interesting for its passengers, decided to enquire whether something similar could be done there. When Joe Crossley, Hon Sec, LGS, explained to them that the whole of the check-in area was an ancient seabed with abundant marine fossils, they decided that an explanatory leaflet would be ideal.

There are superb ammonites the size of your hand, complete belemnites, tiny in-filled burrows and bivalve shells. Cross-sections of all angles can be found. They are displayed in two different coloured limestones; one mid-grey and the other yellowish-brown but they are both known as Jura Grey from the late Jurassic deposits near Solnhofen, Germany. The yellowish-brown stone is simply the weathered version of the grey. Apparently several passengers have complained that the floor was in need of a clean to remove the ‘spilled coffee stains’. Members who went on Fred’s walk around Manchester will recognise the rock as that seen on the walls of the Exchange Court in the Arndale Centre.

Next time you fly from John Lennon get a leaflet from the Information Desk and start your holiday with the Fossil Mystery Tour! Try to find the sponges.

Fred Owen

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Geology courses for the public at Manchester University

Interpreting Geological Trackways - Amanda Edwards
6 Wednesday afternoons 1.30 - 3.30 pm starting 6th February 2008 - course code SE 133 W O7

You can contact the CCE by telephone on 0161 275 3275 to ask for a brochure of their many interesting courses, download one from or email:
For details of the geology courses speak to Dr Alison Scott tel. 0161 275 5592 or email:

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