All lectures except those on 8 February 2024 and 28 March 2024 will be in-person presentations. The in-person lectures will start at 7:00 pm and will be held in Lecture Theatre A (Room 407) in the Boyd Orr Building (September to March) or the Lecture Theatre in the Kelvin Hall (April and May). The 8 February and 28 March lectures will be remote Zoom events, starting at 7:00 pm.

12 October 2023
Professor Jane Evans, British Geological Survey
A boatload of Vikings: isotope evidence from a mass execution in Weymouth
Summary

9 November 2023
Professor Tony Prave, University of St Andrews
Birth of the Dalradian Supergroup and its path through Neoproterozoic Earth history
Summary

7 December 2023
Professor Craig Storey, University of Portsmouth
The onset of modern plate tectonics
Summary

11 January 2024
Dr Steven Hollis, University of Edinburgh
Closing the Iapetus Ocean: late arc and ophiolite formation in the Grampian Orogeny and implications for UK mineral potential and metal security
Summary

8 February 2024 (remote talk)
Toni Galloway, University of St Andrews
Using hotspring systems as analogues to conditions on early Mars
Summary

14 March 2024
Dr Murray Reid
What lies beneath: the geology of Strathkelvin
Summary

28 March 2024 (remote talk)
Dr Denver Fowler
Finding dinosaurs in the Judith River Formation, Late Cretaceous, Montana
Summary

11 April 2024
David Webster
Neoproterozoic glaciation in Scotland: the Port Askaig Formation
Summary

9 May 2024
Members’ Night
1. Angus Miller. The Scottish Geology Trust’s Geosites project
2. Ella Davis. Determining tectonic transport directions in the southern part of the Northern Highlands Terrain, Scotland

 

Lecture Summaries

12 October 2023
Professor Jane Evans, British Geological Survey
A boatload of Vikings: isotope evidence from a mass execution in Weymouth

Much infrastructure work was undertaken in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. This included improving the access route ( A354 ) to Weymouth. A burial pit containing over 50 skeletons was uncovered during this work; the skeletons had all been beheaded. This talk follows the isotope work undertaken to determine who these individuals might have been, where they came from and why they came to this gruesome end.

9th November 2023
Professor Tony Prave, University of St Andrews
Birth of the Dalradian Supergroup and its path through Neoproterozoic Earth history

The most enduring concept of the Dalradian Supergroup is that it formed during a prolonged phase of extensional tectonism, starting with breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia and ending with the opening of the Iapetus Ocean. This evening Tony will revise and refine that concept, integrating the Dalradian’s rock record into the geological and environmental conditions recognised currently as those that define the latter half of Neoproterozoic time worldwide.

7 December 2023
Professor Craig Storey, University of Portsmouth
The onset of modern plate tectonics

Since the 1960s we have accepted the plate tectonic paradigm as being central to how our planet operates at the present day. However, there is much ongoing debate as to when plate tectonics began and how similar it was to the current observable mode. Hypotheses range from the Hadean to the Neoproterozoic and therefore span across profound changes in the Earth system, including atmospheric oxygenation and the proliferation of life. In this talk Craig will review (some of) the “hallmarks” of plate tectonics, their first appearance and secular evolution, and speculate on when it all began and how it evolved.

Further reading

Dhuime, B. et al (2012). A change in the geodynamics of continental growth 3 billion years ago. Science335, 1334-1336.

Palin, R.M. et al (2020). Secular change and the onset of plate tectonics on Earth. Earth Science Reviews207, 103172.

Stern, R.J. (2005). Evidence from Ophiolites, Blueschists and ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic terranes that the modern episode of subduction tectonics began in Neoproterozoic time. Geology33, 557-560.

11 January 2024
Dr Steven Hollis, University of Edinburgh
Closing the Iapetus Ocean: late arc and ophiolite formation in the Grampian Orogeny and implications for UK mineral potential and metal security

The Grampian Orogeny marks the first phase of the closure of the Iapetus Ocean in the British and Irish Caledonides during the Late Cambrian to Middle Ordovician. Widespread metamorphism and deformation of passive margin sequences resulted from the accretion of several arc and ophiolite complexes (and outriding microcontinental blocks) to the continental margin of Laurentia. These remnants of that now closed ocean extend across Scotland and Ireland, into Newfoundland and Quebec. The Tyrone Igneous Complex of Northern Ireland represents a young, structurally dissected c. 484-480 Ma ophiolite and c. 473-464 Ma volcanic arc. Extensive fieldwork, geochemistry, isotope analysis (Sr-Nd), and U-Pb zircon geochronology have provided us with a detailed understanding of its tectonic-magmatic evolution, and potential metal endowment. Equivalent sequences in the Newfoundland Appalachians contain some of the most metal-rich massive sulphide deposits globally. Exploration efforts in Co. Tyrone have revealed numerous encouraging occurrences of base (Cu-Zn-Pb) and precious (Au-Ag) metals crucial for the energy transition, and also occurrences of energy-critical metals (e.g. Co, Bi, Te). Parallels between the Tyrone Igneous Complex and the Ballantrae Ophiolite Complex will also be discussed in this presentation, highlighting the possible mineral potential of western Scotland.

8 February 2024
Toni Galloway, University of St Andrews
Using hotspring systems as analogues to conditions on early Mars

My PhD research currently focuses on studying biogeochemical cycling of essential elements within Mars analogue sites. I work primarily on modern hot spring systems on Earth as analogues to Noachian Mars. This period, dating from 4.1 to 3.7 billion years ago, was during the interval known as the Late Heavy Bombardment and when first life forms likely arose on Earth. Examining hot spring conditions while using geochemical and bioinformatic analyses aids in understanding how those extremophilic organisms associated with the springs use carbon and nitrogen, and the biosignatures which these reactions leave behind in the geological record.

14 March 2024
Dr Murray Reid
What lies beneath: the geology of Strathkelvin

Strathkelvin covers the valleys of the Kelvin and Allander Waters north of Glasgow and extends from Milngavie and Bearsden in the west to Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth in the east. The presentation will describe the geology of the area, concentrating on outcrops where the strata can be clearly seen and looking at evidence for what lies beneath the surface in areas where rock is not exposed. In the north, the lavas and ancient volcanoes of the Campsie Fells are well exposed but most of the built-up areas are underlain by sedimentary rocks of Carboniferous age which are largely covered by thick layers of glacial and alluvial materials. Coal, sandstone and limestone have been exploited and traces of the workings remain. The Kelvin Valley forms a major east-west transport corridor across Central Scotland and has played a significant role in the history of Scotland.

28 March 2024
Dr Denver Fowler
Finding dinosaurs in the Judith River Formation, Late Cretaceous, Montana

Dr Fowler will describe his research into the Judith River Formation in Montana. This formation, dating from the late Cretaceous period between 79 and 75.3 million years ago, has yielded a wide range of fossils of fish, amphibians, crocodilians, lizards, turtles and of course dinosaurs. It was explored by early American palaeontologistsas early as 1876, the same year as Custer’s ill-fated last stand  at the Little Big Horn, also in Montana.

Further Reading

Warshaw EA & Fowler DW (2022). A transitional species of Daspletosaurus Russell, 1970 from the Judith River Formation of eastern Montana, PeerJ. http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.14461 (Publication scheduled online 7am GMT Nov 25th 2022, free access) (Summary / Press Links / Images)

Fowler DW (2020). The Hell Creek Formation, Montana: A Stratigraphic Review and Revision Based on a Sequence Stratigraphic Approach. Geosciences 2020, 10(11), 435. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10110435

Fowler DW, Wilson JP, Freedman Fowler EA, Noto CR, Anduza DA, & Horner JR (2020). Trierarchuncus prairiensis gen. et sp. nov., the last alvarezsaurid: Hell Creek Formation (uppermost Maastrichtian), Montana. Cretaceous Research 116, December 2020, 104560. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2020.104560. (Published online July 10th 2020) (Summary / Press Links / Images)

Fowler DW & Freedman Fowler EA (2020). Transitional evolutionary forms in chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaurs: evidence from the Campanian of New Mexico, PeerJ 8:e9251. DOI 10.7717/peerj.9251 (Published online June 5th 2020) (Summary / Press Links / Images)

Fowler DW (2017) Revised geochronology, correlation, and dinosaur stratigraphic ranges of the Santonian-Maastrichtian (Late Cretaceous) formations of the Western Interior of North America. PLoS ONE 12(11): e0188426. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0188426

Scannella JB, Fowler DW, Goodwin MB, Horner JR (2014). Evolutionary trends in Triceratops from the Hell Creek Formation, Montana. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(28), p. 10245-10250.

Fowler DW, Freedman EA, Scannella JB, & Kambic RE (2011). The predatory ecology of Deinonychus and the origin of flapping in birds. PLoS One 6(12): e28964. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028964.

Fowler DW, & Sullivan RM (2011). The first giant titanosaurian sauropod from the Upper Cretaceous of North America. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56(4): 685-690.

Fowler DW, Woodward HN, Freedman EA, Larson PL, & Horner JR (2011). Reanalysis of “Raptorex kriegsteini”: a juvenile tyrannosaurid dinosaur from Mongolia. PLoS One 6(6): e21376. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021376.

Fowler DW, & Hall LE (2011). Scratch-digging sauropods, revisited, Historical Biology 23(1): 27-40.

Fowler DW, Freedman EA, & Scannella JB (2009). Predatory functional morphology in raptors: Interdigital variation in talon size is related to prey restraint and immobilisation technique. PLoS One 4(11): e7999. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007999.

11 April 2024
David Webster
Neoproterozoic glaciation in Scotland and Ireland: the Port Askaig Formation

The Port Askaig Formation (PAF) in the Garvellach Islands and Islay is some 1100 m thick and includes 48 diamictites. Many were deposited by grounded ice; a few were ice-rafted. The PAF records 76 climatically-related episodes: 28 glacial, 25 periglacial and 23 non-glacial, and also unusual iron-rich and glaciotectonic intervals. Amongst Cryogenian glacial successions, the PAF is exceptional in its combination of formation thickness, the number of climatically-related episodes and the thickness (25km) of its host supergroup.

PAF studies started with MacCulloch (1819); Thomson (1871) proposed a glacial origin; Pitcher and Shackleton (1961) measured the strata in the Garvellachs, leading to Tony Spencer’s 1971 Geological Society of London Memoir (#6). A large multi-disciplinary team is now preparing a new memoir. Its recent work has led to the proposal that the base of the PAF on Garbh Eileach be a candidate GSSP (Golden Spike) for the Cryogenian world-wide. Evidence for and against a “Snowball Earth” during PAF times will also be discussed.