One woman's quest for geological understanding!

February 2011Monthly Archives

Herdman Symposium 2011 – Liverpool University (19/2/2011)

As you may, or may not, remember from my previous posts, I attended the Herdman Symposium at Liverpool University Saturday.  Only just had chance to write it all up!

The program was great, and certainly flowed in terms of subject matter

Why does life start, what does it do, where will it be?
Michael J. Russell (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, USA)

In terms of the subject matter, this was incredibly interesting, however the Geochemistry was over my head at some points!(The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Russell’s presentation

Diagram from presentation by Michael J. Russell at the Herdman Symposium 2011

The complexity of life never ceases to amaze me! For further information:

Why does life start?

The emergence of life

Patterns in the history of life
Richard A. Fortey FRS, FRSL

This was a bit of a highlight for me: the author of some of my favourite geological books, speaking of patterns in the history of life – a very visual presentation.  Highlights, of course, were the trilobites!  😀

Whatever history threw at life….[mass extinctions, etc]…… we never unlearnt the last steps!
(Source: Richard Fortey, during the presentation)

We also voted on what should be the title of his latest book: “Survivors” vs. “Old Timers” – the 300+ audience was split down the middle…..

Richard Fortey

The geological history of young continents, old continents and the oceans: why are they so different?
James Jackson FRS (Bullard Laboratories, University of Cambridge)

A very interesting lecture covering a topic which I have only touched upon in the past. The understanding of the lithosphere has increased over the past few years, and this presentation looked at the numerous discoveries and hypothesis which have been made in the recent past (LOL) regarding the differences in the structure, composition and rheology of the lithosphere between the oceans, young orogenic belts and how the ancient Precambrian shields are responsible for the variations in tectonic history seen at the Earth’s surface over geological time.

Age of the continental Crust

Deep in the mantle something stirred: why there is recent volcanism within Central Europe?
Marjorie Wilson (University of Leeds)

An account of Marjorie Wilson’s studies into the geological processes which caused recent volcanism within central Europe (Rheine graben & Central Massif, etc), which are generally not considered to be directly associated with the subduction of tectonic plates, but more recently with magma generation involving large-scale mantle plumes, localised hotspots (mantle “hot-fingers”) and continental rifting.  after studying seimic data, it became apparant that there were some inconsistencies localised hot spot theories: “How can a hot thermal instability (hot-finger) be rooted in a cold boundary layer (the Transition Zone)?  One possible interpretation is that the “hot-fingers” are not hot at all but instead represent the pathways of water-rich fluids streaming from the top of the Transition ZoneMarjorie suggests that the generation of magma could, therefore, be explained by the effect of water in lowering the mantle melting temperature.

During the presentation Marjorie highlighted a number of hypothesis, methodologies associated with the investigations and what evidence was found to support them.  An interesting presentation, especially as I know the Central Massif area quite well, but have not been sinceIi started studying geology with the OU!!

Where was Odysseus’ homeland?  The Geological, geomorphological and geophysical evidence for relocating Homer’s Ithaca
John Underhill (Grant Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Edinburgh)

A really fascinating presentation highlighting how the study of seismic topography has been implemented to investigate whether Odysseus homeland, ancient Ithaca could have been located on the western Kefalonian peninsula called Paliki.

If John Underhill is correct in his thinking, “geoscience will have contributed to the resolution of a problem that has perplexed classical Greek scholars and archaeologists for centuries, namely: why doesn’t the modern island of the same name fit with Homer’s original geographical description in the Odyssey that it is low-lying, is surrounded by other islands (to the east) and lies facing dusk (furthest to the west)?”   (source

Apart from the obvious geological interest, I will also be contacting John over the next couple of weeks to discuss the possibility of him writing  / contributing an article for CD-Traveller ( on the Touristic Implications.  Luckily I managed to catch him before he dashed off!

The April – May 2010 summit eruption at Eyjafjallajökull volcano (Iceland): From source to the atmosphere
Thor Thordarson (Grant Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Edinburgh)

A first-hand account and description of the eruption of the unpronouncable volcano in Iceland last year – some amazing visuals shared!

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

“It was the last wish of the Icelandic Economy that it’s ashes be spread over Europe!” (Source – Thor Thordarson‘s presentation)

(Apologies for the quality of the conference photos: my iPhone is not all it is cracked up to be!  LOL)

Weather Station installed!

Mike the roof guy came over and installed it, so now I can keep an eye on the rain levels, pressure, temperature and wind speed!  Oh what a wonderful life I lead!  😀

Website links added to Daisy’s Geology Website

Spent some time yesterday evening collating a list of web-links for Geology – and more specifically S369 – related research etc.

**  **

After a failed S369 Skype session, I am now set down to do a few hours of rock hard work….

So Far, So Good….

S369 “officially” starts tomorrow…. and I am happily 2 weeks ahead!

12 February

  • Preparatory work on sedimentary rocks and successions (Study Guide to The Sedimentary Record of Sea-level Change)
  • S260 Sedimentary Environments Panorama (DVD1); Digital Rock Atlas (DVD1)

19 February

  • The Sedimentary record of Sea-level Change (and Study Guide) Part 1

The above has all been completed, with the exception of some activites which I will finish tomorrow.


I also plan to make a start on questions 1 and 2 of the TMA01….. might as well – I can always go back and alter stuff later!


Daisy x

Richard A. Fortey speaking @ the Herdman Symposium @ Liverpool University on the 19th February

The Herdman Symposium is an event that I have attended but once, and have awaited the 2011 Symposium with excitement.  This has now escalated as Richard A. Fortey will be speaking at the Symposium this year, and he is one of my favourite Geological authors!  He will be speaking on “Patterns in the History of Life”!

More details here:

I am the proud owner of numerous of his books:

  • The Hidden Landscape (1993)
  • Life: An Unauthorised Biography. A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth (1997)
  • Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution (2000)
  • Fossils: The Key to the Past (2002)
  • Earth: An Intimate History (2004)
  • Dry Store Roon no. 1 (2008)


RockED on Sunday!

A friend and I spent a wonderful few hours revising S260/276 and looking at rocks and the ID process.

Apart from my naughty dog stealing and eating her chocolate brownies and ending up in hospital to have her stomach pumped, it was a great day, and Adi and I covered a lot.

It has to be said, that sometimes is better revision if two people are involved – her has little background in Geology, but her strong background in environmental/biological sciences  proved useful, and she raised very pertinent questions which jump started my brain again – a much-desired result!!  😀

I am currently working through the activities in parts 1-3 of S269, and parallel to this am finishing off the last 5 rock IDs for the prep work.

I have just been going through my external hard drive, and have routed out all the old sedimentary notes I made, and am reading through them too.  But as it turns out, I remember much more than I thought I would!  LOL

I am just enjoying the words rolling over my tongue at the moment – stratigraphy….. chronostratigraphy…. biostratigraphy…. lithostratigraphy….  should I really enjoy that THIS much?!?!?!

Rock On Sunday!

Getting ready for a weekend of intensive study:  I have invited my fellow students over for a day of Rock ID-ing and issue solving!

Rocking all over the floor….

. . . . the database writing and cataloguing has begun . . . . The dog is upset (I am currently using her bed space as a shelf) . . .  . and I am going to have to do one hell of a lot of rock dust hoovering tomorrow morning. . . .  but it feels good!

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