Past Lectures 2021 -2022

Tuesday 5th October
Presidential address by Dr Alan Boyle (University of Liverpool)
Title: What is Pyrite good for?
Summary: Pyrite typically gets a lot of bad press being associated with death and destruction and being referred to by the somewhat derogatory term “Fool’s gold”. This talk will outline some of the reasons for the widespread dismissal of pyrite, before moving on to discuss some of my research at the University of Liverpool over the last two decades to demonstrate that pyrite is actually a very useful tape recorder of geological processes.

Tuesday 19th October
Lecture by Dr Amani Becker, NOC
Title: Energy River: Realising Energy Potential from the Mersey
Summary: As the need for greater renewable energy supply becomes ever more evident, I will present the findings from a review of the potential for increasing renewable energy generation in and around the Mersey Estuary. Dr Armani Becker will deliver the Liverpool Geological Society Lecture on Tuesday 19th October at 7.30 p.m. on Zoom

Tuesday 2nd November
Lecture by Steven Millar, Tier Environmental
Title: Geology, Contaminants of Concern and Emerging Contaminants of Concern
Summary: Geology plays an important part in the assessment of the risk to human health and controlled waters when it comes to contaminants of concern that have been used by human activity in the past. However, as one contaminant of concern is no longer used, a new contaminant of concern emerges from the shadows. This talk will provide a brief background to the way geology can help or hinder when contaminants of concerns are identified.

Tuesday 9th November
Lecture by Professor Doug Mair, Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool 
Title: How resilient will the Greenland ice sheet be in the face of Climate Change?
Summary: The Greenland Ice Sheet is the largest single source of global sea level rise. Warming air and ocean temperatures are increasing melting and iceberg calving. But how well can we quantify these changes and just how resilient might the ice sheet be in the face of climate change? Doug Mair presents an overview of 20 years of research into ice sheeting melting, ice velocities and iceberg calving to help understand this important scientific challenge.
Biography: Doug is Professor of Glaciology and Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool Head of School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool. He is a glaciologist whose interests include the influences of hydrology on glacier dynamics and controls on ice sheet mass balance and volume change. He has investigated these using field-based measurements and the development of glacial process models. He has over twenty years of research experience in the Swiss Alps, the Canadian High Arctic and on the Greenland Ice Sheet. This research has been supported by grants from Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), The Leverhulme Trust, The Carnegie Trust and the Scottish Alliance for Geosciences, Environment and Society (SAGES).

Tuesday 16th November
Lecture by Anthony Clarke, Consultant Engineer
Title: Ground Engineering of the Liverpool Docks
Summary: The presentation will cover the history and method of construction of the Albert Dock and its river wall in 1840 when mechanisation was scarce. This will include why the dock was sited in this position of Liverpool together with the difficulties encountered with the ground and foundations.
Biography: Anthony is a Chartered Structural Engineer and a Conservation Accredited Engineer (one of 80 in the UK). He worked for 39 years at Curtins in their Liverpool office until March 2018 and is now an independent consultant mainly working on repair of Historic Buildings. His involvement at the Albert Docks started in 1982 when he was part of a team undertaking a detailed assessment of the derelict warehouses and continued through the development period and beyond. In total 30+ years’ experience working on these fabulous buildings. Other notable Liverpool projects have included both Cathedrals and most of the Museum listed properties together with John Rylands in Manchester. Since going into semi-retirement, he continues his private research on Victorian dock construction methods.

Tuesday 23rd November
Lecture by Professor Richard Worden, University of Liverpool
Title: Carbon capture and storage: why we need it, what it is and what is holding it up
  Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a strategy designed to cut emission of the greenhouse gas: carbon dioxide. Carbon (dioxide) emissions result from practically all human activity from farming, through to cement manufacture, steel and other metal manufacture, as well as electricity, heat and power generation by burning fossil fuels. Carbon emissions must be cut to avoid catastrophic global warming which will otherwise result in sea-level rise by metres, loss of farmland, drowning of coastal cities, contamination of precious fresh water, changing global weather patterns, increased storminess and all the attendant human disasters that will result from any one of these consequences.
  A major problem is that countries, corporations, and individuals are unwilling to change the way they function and live and are reluctant to face up to the long-term consequences of today’s actions. Note carefully, this is not just a question of building a few windfarms or even a few more nuclear power stations as cement, steel, and farming account for a massive proportion of carbon emissions. Carbon capture and storage is designed to help, though, by collecting CO2 from industrial point sources of generation such as power stations, and cement and steel factories, and injecting it deep underground, to be locked up forever.
Sound simple? In some ways it is, but there are serious factors holding up large-scale adoption of CCS. The good news is that there are precedents from a few oil and gas production companies that have already injected separated CO2, naturally present in some oil and gas fields, back into the sub-surface, over a period of 60 years or more. What is needed now is on a wholly different scale: all globally produced industrial CO2 must be separated from exhaust gas streams and piped or shipped to CCS sites.
  In this talk we will cover some of the background but focus on the geology of carbon capture. We will also focus on the factors inhibiting large-scale adoption of CCS such as who insures, or assures, these projects designed to last for 10’s to 100’s of thousands to years, who pays for the very expensive capital and then never-ending operating costs for CCS. We may also touch on possible public resistance to CCS given that it will almost certainly cause micro-earthquakes, like shale-gas exploitation

Tuesday 30th November
Lecture by Tom Sharpe
Title: Mary Anning: monsters, myths, and misfortunes.
Summary: It has been said that more has been written about Mary Anning, the fossil dealer of Lyme Regis, than about any other geologist, apart from Charles Darwin. But how much do we really know? How much is speculation? And how much is myth that has developed through the uncritical telling and retelling of her tale over the course of two centuries? Separating the facts from the fictions about Mary Anning can be challenging, but her story is a remarkable tale. This talk will examine what we know of the life of this extraordinary woman, her famous – and less well-known – discoveries, and her part within the wider network of the developing science of palaeontology in the early nineteenth century and will seek to dispel at least a few of the Mary myths.

Tuesday 7th December 6.30 – 9.00 p.m.
Practical in the Central Teaching Laboratories, University of Liverpool
Arranged by Maggie & Peter Williams
Title: Jelly volcanoes

Tuesday 14th December

Lecture by Dr Bill Wimbledon, Bristol University              

Title: How to place a Golden Spike: a cautionary tale from the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary

Summary: The only system in the Phanerozoic for which a base has not been agreed is that for the Cretaceous. That base lies at the bottom of the Berriasian, the first stage/age of the Cretaceous System/Period at about 140 million years ago. Reasons for that lack of a resolution are various, ranging from problems of correlation due to biotic provincialism, low biodiversity, isolated marine areas, and widespread non-marine facies, and discussions that have sometimes been spiced with nationalism and rivalries.

In fact, the first J/K sedimentary rocks described were in the UK, in the Portland and Purbeck beds of England and northern France. Victorian geologists always regarded both as Jurassic, what today would be called Tithonian. It was only in the 1980s that magnetic evidence indicated that the J/K boundary lies within the Purbeck beds, not above. This is a formation famous for its myriad insects, mammals, pterosaurs, turtles, crocodilians etc., but it is not a source of the kinds of marine biota useful for wider correlation, such as ammonites. Therefore, the positioning of a J/K boundary in the UK has never been much discussed.   Other regions like China and interior USA share the same problems – abundant dinosaurs (some furry), molluscs, insects etc., but no marine fossils. Radiometric dates have come recently to these regions, and these help a little.

In marine basins away from the equator (“boreal” and “austral” regions) there are fossiliferous sediments, but the fossil content is limited in its usefulness for correlation. Fossils are sometimes super abundant, but never diverse; and the ammonites, benthic molluscs, dinoflagellates, radiolaria, belemnites etc. that are present tend to be limited to higher latitudes, rarely extending into more equatorial waters and the former great ocean of Tethys. With its many sites that yield the richest marine biotas and where most studies have occurred. Previous discussions and the decisions of international symposia have consistently agreed that the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the Berriasian should be located in an outcrop in the sedimentary rocks of Tethys.

Discussions in past decades on Mesozoic stage boundaries, including the J/K boundary, were always dominated by ammonite specialists; and on the J/K it had a rather narrow geographical focus – ammonite correlation between Mediterranean Tethys and boreal Russia being a paramount preoccupation.  Even though correlative accuracy with this was poor, sometimes with discrepancies of more than 2 my(!).  Subsequently, widespread endemism in the ammonites had been increasingly recognised as an obstacle to correlation, even in the regions of Tethys, and, thus, though published research on the J/K interval has grown and more profiles have been documented, it has been done relying less and less on ammonites, and more on ubiquitous calpionellids combined with magnetostratigraphy.

Tuesday 4th January 2022
Members’ Evening at The Athenaeum

Stephen Hurrell “Quetzalcoatlus northropi in a reduced gravity”
Aeronautical calculations seem to show that the largest pterosaurs would struggle to achieve powered flight. Is it possible that these Cretaceous giants flew in a reduced gravity?
Geoff Gilchrist “Llangollen”
The area covered in this talk is based on the 1: 50 000 BGS map sheet 121 (Wrexham): Solid & Drift map. The geology ranges from Ordovician to post glacial. There is a strong relationship between the geology and the physical landscape with some unique features. The Carboniferous outcrops and associated landscape features are quite dramatic and some of the post glacial features such as glacial diversions involving deeply incised meanders are unique.
Peter Williams “A dud spud in Kitkiojarvi”
A talk about one of the oldest objects in the solar system – and one of the youngest. And for those that like a puzzle, here are 4 dates for you:
4.56 billion years ago
1 000 000 years ago
Talk about the muonionalusta meteorite

Tuesday 11th January 2022

Professor Peter Burgess – University of Liverpool

My favourite outcrops

Outcrops can tell a wonderful story of Earth history, and this talk will discuss a few favourite examples I have visited to do field work, from North America to South Wales and across a range of geological ages and events.

Tuesday 25th January 2022

Professor Andy Plater – University of Liverpool

Reconstructing barrier beach and lagoon response to El Nino using particle size data.

This talk bridges timescales of geomorphic processes and records of environmental change by exploring the inter-annual behaviour of coastal barrier systems on the California coast. Data on particle size distributions from saltmarsh sediments are used to examine variability in wave climate and rainfall in determining system disturbance and recovery.

Tuesday 8th February 2022

Dr. Greig Paterson – University of Liverpool

The magnetic personality of bacteria

Greig Paterson is an Independent Research Fellow and Lecturer in Geophysics at the University of Liverpool. His work focuses on the broad applications of magnetism to understand Earth evolution and life. Greig will be presenting ideas old and new on magnetotactic bacteria (MTB). These microscopic organisms mineralize magnetic particles within their cells, which are aligned in a chain and act like a tiny magnetic compass. MTB have existed for most of Earth’s history and Greig will talk about some of the implications of these ancient magnetic navigators

22nd February 2022

Dr. Alan Thompson – Cuesta Consulting

Karstic landscapes of England and Wales: The Good, the (not so) Bad and the Ugly.

This talk will cover three very different examples of the landscapes and processes associated with karst – the natural dissolution of soluble rocks by flowing groundwater. The “Good” will be represented by the limestone pavements and other features in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and adjoining parts of North West England. The “Not so Bad” relates to a proposal to extend a limestone quarry, in South Wales, into a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest characterised by an area of spectacular ‘interstratal’ dolines. The “Ugly” relates to the rapid dissolution of gypsum deposits, rather than limestone, and the associated problems of subsidence in the city of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

8th March 2022

Professor Chris Hunt – Liverpool John Moores University

Quaternary Stratigraphy and Geoarchaeology at Shanidar, Iraq
Shanidar Cave is famous because remains of ten Neanderthals were recovered from the cave fill by Ralph Solecki in the 1950s.  The site lies in the rapidly-uplifting  Zagros Mountains in a complex geomorphological and Quaternary-stratigraphic context, among terraces left by the incision of the Greater Zab. Our re-investigation of the cave fill has provided evidence for a complex stratigraphy, consisting of sandy mudflow diamicts, boulder debris-avalanche breccias, waterlain sands and gravels and palaeosoils.  We have relocated the find-spots of most of the Neanderthals and recovered partial remains of three of the individuals found by Solecki, including two from the cluster of remains around the famous ‘flower burial’.  Geoarchaeological work allow us to reconstruct aspects of the mortuary activity involved in the deposition of this group.