Programme of HGS Lectures and Activities for 2021-22



Wed 6th October, Life and death of Lake Orcadie: tectonics, climate and sediment, Dr Steven Andrews

During the Middle Devonian (392-384 Ma) a sedimentary basin stretched from the southern coast of the Moray Firth to Orkney and Shetland in the North.  This formed part of a wider system of basins that can be traced all the way up the north atlantic to Svalbard.  During the Devonian Scotland occupied a similar latitude to that of Australia today (30 degrees S), the climate was hot and dry.  However the presence of a Himalayan scale mountain chain which defined the western margin of the basin provided river catchments which fed a vast lake, Lake Orcadie.  Regular fluctuations in climate on decadal and millenial scales resulted in cycles of evaporation and re-flooding of the lake, all of which is recorded in the sedimentary record.  This presentation will examine what led to the formation of lake Orcadie, what the sediments that filled it can tell us about the climate and geography of the region at this time and what became of this ancient lake. 

Wed 27th October, Forged by fire: Australia's rich volcanic heritage and future eruption risk, Dr Heather Handley, Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash University, Australia

Since the time the dinosaurs died out to human settlement, Australia’s fiery volcanic past has left behind an expanse of volcanoes stretching over 4000 km down its eastern margin, forming one of the longest continental volcanic belts in the world. This talk will take you on a volcanic tour of Australia. It will explore why Australia has volcanic activity far from present plate boundaries and the active volcanic status of some regions. It will highlight how modern volcano science, integrated with long-lived Indigenous Knowledge of Australia’s volcanic activity, is advancing our understanding of past volcanic eruptions and their impacts. But just how likely is a future eruption is in mainland Australia? How much warning time would there be? And how prepared is Australia and its people for a future eruption? All will be unearthed.


Wed 8th December, The shaping of the Scottish mountains by rock slope failures, with case studies from the NW Highlands, David Jarman, HGS

Rock slope failure - RSF - spans rock avalanches, rockslides, and rock slope deformations.  In the Highlands today, these are very rare (in bedrock as against superficial deposits) and very small-scale (as at the recent Quoich dam road closure).  Yet they have occurred very widely and extensively (reaching 3 sq km), during and after deglaciations.  The relict Highland population of over 900 significant RSFs (Jarman and Harrison, Geomorphology, 2019) is scarcely known and little researched, yet has left conspicuous marks on many mountains.  RSF occurs primarily in the schists (as the main mountain rock type) but also in Torridonian sandstone - notably Beinn Alligin - gneiss, and even granite.  It seems to associate with locales of concentrated erosion in bedrock, such as glacial breaches and trough-heads, rather than on main glen walls.  In the NW Highlands, a major cluster occurs in Cluanie-Affric-Kintail.  Key sites including Beinn Fhada and Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe will be presented, followed by a lightning tour of numerous examples to give an overall impression of the phenomenon.


Winter/Spring lectures 2022

Wed 19th January, NatureScot and geoconservation, Dr Rachel Wignall, Geology Adviser NatureScot. 

The role of NatureScot, Scotland’s natures conservation agency, includes geoconservation; so NatureScot is also Scotland’s Geoconservation agency. With legal responsibility for designating and protecting Scotland’s geological and geomorphological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and a remit extending from policy development to public outreach there are many strands to NatureScot’s involvement in geoconservation. This talk will explain the geoconservation data we hold, and some of our past and present work areas, from GCR site selection and site monitoring, to interpretation initiatives, planning consultations, the Scottish Fossil code and the Nature Conservation Order (NCO) for protection of fossils on Skye.

Wed 9th February, Dr Elsa Panciroli tba

Wed 16th March, Dr Tim Lawson tba


Zoom lectures will commence at 19:30.



 Shetland Field trip 2022, We have been able to rebook the Shetland week for 2022, and in summary the plan is as follows: Wed 1 June. Overnight ferry Aberdeen to Lerwick; Th, F, Sa, Su 2 - 6 June. 4 nights booked at Bridge End Outdoor Centre; M, Tu, W 6 - 9 June. Plan to stay 3 nights on Unst, possibly at Saxa Vord if available
Th 9 June. Overnight ferry to Aberdeen, arriving on the morning of Fri 10 June.

There is a (short) waiting list for places - things will become clearer once the Unst accommodation is resolved.



Further details of our meetings and events may be found within the NEWS LETTERS section and also available for download: see LIBRARY tab within menu to the LHS.


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