Lecture meetings are held on the second Thursday of every month from October until May at 7:30 pm in the Gregory Building’s lecture theatre. The lectures usually last about an hour, and are followed by tea/coffee and biscuits, with a chance to chat to members of the society and to look at the publications in the society’s bookshop. The meetings finish at around 9:30 pm.

If you are a non-member interested in our society please accept this invitation to attend.

10th October 2019
Nick Schofield, Aberdeen University
Hydrocarbon exploration in volcanic effected basins
Summary

14th November 2019
Peter Ledingham, Geoscience Ltd, Cornwall
The United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project
Summary

12th December 2019
Gawen Jenkyn, Leicester University
Green gold? How to get metals out of the ground in a “green” and sustainable way
Summary

9th January 2020
John Brown, Arup, Edinburgh
Engineering geology of the Queensferry Crossing
Summary

13th February 2020
Amanda Owen, Glasgow University
Understanding the spatial variability of sedimentary deposits
Summary

12th March 2020
Andrew Scott, Royal Holloway, University of London
Burning planet: the story of fire through time

9th April 2020
Jenny Collier, Imperial College
Breaching of the Dover Strait and the creation of “Island Britain”

14th May 2020
Members’ Night

Lecture Summaries

10th October 2019
Nick Schofield, Aberdeen University
Hydrocarbon exploration in volcanic effected basins

The UK Rockall Basin forms part of the NE Atlantic margin and is truly a frontier basin. With only 12 exploration wells, all drilled between 1980 and 2006, it is one of the most underexplored areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Of the 12 wells, 11 were dry holes and one, the Benbecula (154/01-1) well, discovered a sub-commercial gas accumulation. This low historic success rate, together with the harsh NE Atlantic operating environment and the lack of infrastructure have created a negative view of the exploration potential of the UK Rockall Basin. Exploration in the basin is perceived by the industry at large to be high risk and low reward. However, considerable advances have been made in the understanding of Atlantic Margin geology since the last well was drilled in the Rockall Basin. Re-evaluation of drilling results in light of the current understanding of NE Atlantic Margin geology reveals that previous drilling efforts may have been hampered by a misunderstanding of the geological development of the basin and that viable untested plays may exist within the basin.

Further reading: see http://www.rockallbasin.com/

14th November 2019
Peter Ledingham, Geoscience Ltd, Cornwall
The United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project

The United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project is the first development of its kind in the UK. It is located near Redruth in west Cornwall and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Cornwall Council. Two wells have been drilled to intersect a target fault structure that, it is hoped, will provide enough natural permeability to allow circulation between the wells and the generation of between 1 and 3MWe.

Drilling began in November 2018 and was completed at the end of June 2019. The production well reached a depth of 5,275m (MD) and the injection well 2,393m (MD), and the project is now in its evaluation phase.

Peter will outline the geothermal resources in Cornwall, describe the development of the UDDGP project and give an update on progress.

Background reading: see https://www.uniteddownsgeothermal.co.uk/

12th December 2019
Gawen Jenkyn, Leicester University
Green gold? How to get metals out of the ground in a “green” and sustainable way

We need mineral resources to underpin a good quality of life for the still-expanding population of planet Earth. Although we might ultimately develop a “circular economy” where all resources are recycled, this is a long way off and we will need to continue to extract minerals for many years to come. However, the mining industry is under a variety of pressures, both geological and anthropogenic, which make it ever harder to operate economically. The industry needs to be moving to more sustainable operations, in particular reducing carbon emissions and ensuring it earns the consent of the local and global communities – the so called Social Licence to Operate.

At Leicester, we have developed an exciting breakthrough technology using ionic liquids that has the potential to revolutionise the processing of mineral ores to metals in a green and environmentally-friendly way. We have the potential to replace the use of cyanide in industrial gold extraction and the uncontrolled use of mercury by artisanal gold miners – one of the biggest sources of mercury contamination on the planet. Ultimately, the mine of the future, might not involve a hole in the ground or people going underground and have a considerably smaller impact on our environment.

The talk is aimed to be accessible for non-specialists.

Background reading: Abbott AP, Al-Bassam AZM,Goddard A, Harris RC, Jenkin GRT, Nisbett F & Wieland M (2017). Dissolution of Pyrite and other Fe-S-As minerals using Deep Eutectic Solvents. Green Chemistry, 19, 2225-2233, DOI: 10.1039/C7GC00334J.

9th January 2020
John Brown, Arup, Edinburgh
Engineering geology of the Queensferry Crossing

Field mapping of the geology of the area along with inspection of rock cores recovered from below the seabed identified good quality rock across the Firth of Forth. Therefore all foundations bear on top of the rock, eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming piling onto the hard rock that underlies the whole crossing.

The crossing is built on varied geology. An igneous intrusion, Beamer Rock Island, is a dolerite pinnacle, a very strong rock, which provided a suitable foundation to support the 210 metre high central tower.

The foundations for the north and south towers are founded on 25 to 30 m diameter circular steel caissons sunk to the top of the bedrock some 40-50 m below water level. Once positioned they were sunk into the seabed by a combination of precision dredging and ballasting with concrete to guide the caisson to its desired level and position. A thick concrete plug was then poured underwater within the cylinders to enable the construction of a reinforced concrete base for the foundations towers. The caisson approach is not that dissimilar to how 19th Century engineers approached the foundations that support the original Forth Bridge.

The geological information gathered prior to construction was translated into 3D numerical models to design the foundations. Each foundation excavation was rigorously inspected with remote camera domes developed to carry out detailed underwater inspections up to 50 m below sea level. The engineering expertise of the designer and contractor enabled the delivery of a complex set of foundations in a safe and efficient manner.

13th February 2020
Amanda Owen, Glasgow University
Understanding the spatial variability of sedimentary deposits

Sedimentary systems are under the influence of a variety of process that can vary considerably in time (seconds to millennia) and space (from the grain to basin scale). This talk will examine the spatial variability in fluvial response to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The PETM occurred ~56 Ma and was a geologically abrupt global warming event in which temperatures increased from 5-8°C over ~200,000 years due to a global release in carbon, making it a close analogue to today’s global warming trends. The PETM has been interrogated at a number of terrestrial and marine localities across the globe, however, the majority of these studies are not placed within a well-defined spatial and temporal context, with study often limited to single successions and the deposits that lie immediately above and below the event. It is imperative that background ‘normal’ conditions are understood in order for an assessment of response magnitude and extent to be made. Within this talk sedimentological observations from multiple PETM localities within the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, will be presented within a newly defined quantified basin context.

Background reading: Owen, A., Hartley, A.J., Ebinghaus, A., Weissmann, G.S. & Santos, M.G.M. (2019) Basin‐scale predictive models of alluvial architecture: Constraints from the Palaeocene–Eocene, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA. Sedimentology66(2), 736-763. (doi:10.1111/sed.12515)

12th March 2020
Andrew Scott, Royal Holloway, University of London
Burning planet: the story of fire through time

9th April 2020
Jenny Collier, Imperial College
Breaching of the Dover Strait and the creation of “Island Britain”