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Newsletter - June 2009

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I hope that you have been enjoying this lovely spring weather and getting out into the field. We have several outings still to come. Do contact Marjorie Mosley (0161 432 4343 or email if you intend to come along, and booking is essential for the Lakes weekend. We hope to see many of you at Styal on July 19th and there again at the dinner on September 26th. Our August outing will be to Rochdale Cemetery; Marjorie and Sue want more time to work at Healey Dell before they take us there.

Joe MacQuaker has offered to lead a trip to Newfoundland next year. If you are interested please let Jane Michael know; if there is sufficient interest she will go ahead and start organising.

Those of you who have taken advantage of Manchester Universityís programme of Continuing Education in the past will no doubt be dismayed at the demise of the CCE (it used to be the Extra Mural department) but some of the tutors have got together to continue offering adult classes. The organisation is called MANCENT.

Jim Spencer has been busy organising next winterís lecture programme; details of speakers will follow in September.

Bolton Museum are having a Darwin Exhibition starting next week. Looks good!

Best wishes to all. Please send me your Holiday Geology Highlights. A nice photo plus a paragraph or two will let others know of good places to go! Enjoy your summer!

Mary Howie newsletter editor

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President's Dinner

Dr Chris Arkwright, MGA President, invites everyone to the Biennial Presidential Dinner on 26th September this year at Quarry Bank Mill in Styal Country Park. She hopes you will decide to come, and bring family and friends.

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Greater Manchester RIGS Group

I attended a North West Geodiversity Partnership meeting on 5 May at Natural Englandís office in Manchester. Among the items discussed was the production of a leaflet for inclusion in Natural Englandís advice to local planning authorities on the importance of considering geodiversity issues when dealing with planning applications.

In March, Cumbria launched their Local Geodiversity Action Plan (LGAP); we are still awaiting publication of GMís LGAP. After consultation with all RIGS groups, UKRIGS is now known as Geoconservation UK.

Site visits have been made to the railway cutting between Slade Lane, Burnage, and Ladybarn Lane bridge, Fallowfield, Manchester. Two sites are situated on the disused railway track, which has been made into a well-surfaced, easily walked route from Denton to Chorlton.

Unfortunately, the outcrops at Slade Lane (SJ 868 938) are obscured by dense vegetation. However, there is a large amount of literature written at the time of the excavation for the railway in the late 19th century in the Transactions of the Geological Society, Volume 20, 1888-90 and Volume 21, 1890-92. One point of interest is that the excavations revealed the edges of the Upper Permian Series and some members of the Upper Coal Measures, namely the Ardwick (Spirorbis) Limestones.(1)

The site at Ladybarn Lane bridge, Fallowfield (SJ 8585 9385) although slightly obscured by vegetation, is easily accessed on the track and is a Bunter Pebble bed (Triassic) red massive, cross-bedded sandstone with a few quartz pebbles.

A visit has also been made to a site on the Rochdale Canal towpath, between the railway viaducts near the Deansgate Tunnel, Manchester (SJ 8330 9756). The canal was cut into the Bunter Pebble Beds and a 100m exposure can be seen on the towpath. As with the Fallowfield site, the sandstone is bright red, cross-bedded with millet seed grains and a few well-rounded quartzite pebbles can be found. Just north, across the canal, this rock is used as the foundations for the adjacent railway arches and a well-marked erosion surface can be seen.

The sites at Ladybarn Lane Bridge and Deansgate Tunnel are worth a visit as they are examples of accessible geology within an urban environment.

An audit has been made of the condition of the specimens on the Geological Trail in Rochdale Cemetery, details of which will be kept in the Manchester Museum.

We are participating with Natural England to broaden the scope of interest of their health walks so they cover geodiversity in both urban and rural environments.

(1) The Manchester Museum holds the relevant copies of the Transactions of the Geological Society for this fascinating stretch of railway line and anyone wishing to learn more is welcome to access the records at the Manchester Museum by contacting

Greater Manchester RIGS group would like to thank Manchester Geological Association, Natural England and the staff of Manchester Museum for their help and support.

Marjorie E. Mosley, Secretary, Greater Manchester RIGS Group

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Field trip to Apedale Coal Mine and Heritage Centre - May 2009

Kathleen Mais has written a report about the field trip to Apedale

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Newfoundland - September 2010

Dr Joe Macquaker, our Past President, has offered to show us the Geological Delights of Newfoundland next year. If you have any interest in this trip please let Jane Michael know ASAP. 0161 366 0595 or email

If there is sufficient interest, she will go ahead and start organisingÖ.. if not, not.

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Styal Desert?

A special MGA day at Quarry Bank Mill, Sunday 19th July

We have teamed up with the National Trust at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal Country Park, for a day of geological fun, frolics and fossils on Sunday 19th July. The theme for the day is the Styal Desert?, reflecting the arid, fluvial setting which the underlying geology tells us existed where the Park is now located. There will be an MGA gazebo in the main yard, furnished with appropriate displays of the local geology, activities to interest youngsters and lots of other things to promote geological interest for the public.

There is a short article which describes and illustrates some of the features which can be seen in the Secret Garden.

Fred Broadhurst in the Secret Garden at Styal

Fred Broadhurst in the Secret Garden at Styal

Central to the day is a series of six short walks, being lead by Fred Broadhurst and myself, around the newly renovated Secret Garden and a section of my Styal Country Park geology trail along the River Bollin. The walks, lasting about an hour, have easy access and are suitable for accompanied children. The NT will charge £3 for adults (children free) and will take bookings in advance to Jayne Gudgeon on tel: 01625 445845. For safety and access reasons a maximum of 20 persons/walk will be allowed.

Put the date in your diary now and tell all your friends about it Ė itís at the start of the school holidays. It will be a great family day out.

Please help us make this new venture a huge success.

Volunteers needed!

Although we have a small organising group, on the day, we will really need assistance of other people. We are not asking folk to give up the whole day but just maybe a couple of hours. We need to cover from about 10.30 am to 5.00 pm and are looking for about a dozen helpers to man the display, answer queries and cover breaks. If you are interested and would like to get involved in this brilliant event, which will give the Association lots of publicity, please could you let Jane Michael know either by email ( or telephone 0161 366 0595 as soon as possible.

Thanks very much. Fred Owen

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South Lakes field weekend - 18-20 September 2009

Leader: Chris Arkwright
Time: Arrive Friday evening, leave Sunday afternoon

Saturday: Coniston
On our visit last year to the eastern Lake District we looked at Ordovician deep-sea sediments of the Skiddaw Group near Shap. These had been deposited in the Iapetus Ocean and later folded by tectonic movement during ocean closure at the start of the Caledonian Orogeny. Subsequent continental collision caused increasingly violent, volcanic eruptions on land and in shallow water, eventually forming the Borrowdale Volcanic Group (BVG) which outcrops over much of the central Lake District. More uplift and erosion resulted in a major unconformity between BVG and the overlying marine sediments of the Windermere Group (WG).

We shall visit sites near Coniston to look at the volcanic and sedimentary rocks, tectonic features and mineralisation associated with this unconformity.

Sunday: Silverdale and Heysham
Moving up the succession, we shall examine Dinantian limestones of the Lower Carboniferous in Trowbarrow Quarry near Leighton Moss, an RSPB site near Silverdale. Although similar to the fossiliferous rocks seen last year near Orton, the beds of limestones and shales here are vertical and display interesting paleao-karst surfaces and trace fossils. The quarry is also a nature reserve and has some industrial archaeological remains, also.

Then, to Heysham village near Morecambe, to look at Mid-Carboniferous sandstones of the Millstone Grit Group which, being up to 2.5 km depth in Northern England, are the thickest sequence of this group in Western Europe. This huge volume of sediment was brought down from the Caledonian mountains by the large river systems of a prograding delta. Small-scale folds and faults seen at Heysham are evidence of subsequent tectonic movement during the Variscan Orogeny. The sedimentary features and fossils seen in these sandstones and shales will be examined and used to work out their depositional environments. The magnificent views across Morecambe Bay from the ruined priory on the headland should make a beautiful end to the weekend.

Chris Arkwright

If you require accommodation, booking is essential as soon as possible. Contact: Marjorie Mosley tel: 0161 432 4343 or email

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MANCENT - the Manchester Continuing Education Network

For many years, MGA members have enjoyed courses, day seminars and walks organised by Manchester University's Continuing Education Dept and may already be aware that the department is closing down after the summer session 2009. However, many students have expressed their wish to continue with such courses and tutors are certainly willing to teach them. Therefore, in order to satisfy this need, lecturers and students of the former "Courses for the Public" have set up "The Manchester Continuing Education Network" (MANCENT) in the firm belief that continuing education of a high quality should be available to all who want it.

How it works:
MANCENT aims to match interested students with highly qualified and experienced lecturers in the Arts and Sciences. It operates as a loose network of independent, self-employed lecturers who, by choosing their own fees and venues, put on courses which, when presented as a joint listing, offers students a one-stop shop for locating courses in their chosen field of interest.

What MANCENT offers:
A mailing list has been assembled for the purpose of sending information to interested students about courses which have been arranged. The first mailing, containing the programme for Autumn 2009, has just been distributed - see for more details.

If you want more information about the network or want to join, please contact Birgitta Hoffmann (Coordinator & Administrator) at

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