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News archive 2019-2020

We held one geology walk for the Festival of Geology in November 2020 following the Government's Covid Guidelines - one leader and one person from a different household. Mike led Bryony on a guided walk of Hull's General Cemetery. The walk around the city centre was cancelled.

Festival of Geology 2020

Festival of Geology walk (photographed from a distance).


Due to the second Covid Pandemic Lockdown in November 2020 our planned field meetings have been cancelled by the leaders.

The HGS Committee has decided to waive the annual subscription for 2021 for members who have paid their subs for 2020, because we have not been able to provide the full Summer and Winter Programmes due to the Pandemic. Our running costs have not been reduced substantially so donations would be most welcome!

The HGS Committee has introduced extra Risk Assesments for meetings held during the Covid Pandemic, with effect from 26th August 2020 .

The Yorkshire Geological Society is publishing a series of virtual field trips and guides that you can download. The series includes a guide to the cliffs at Bempton and a self guided tour of Hull's Western Cemetery,

Changes to our Data Protection Policy and Procedure - In light of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown the Committee has made changes to the Data Protection Policy and Procedure. To avoid a ‘single point of failure’ your personal data will be shared between the Officers of the Society who are expected to keep to the terms and spirit of the Procedure. Officers may share you data with the emergency services if they think your health and welfare is at risk. Leaders and organiser of Society events may collect and keep a paper record of the people attending the event for a specified period at times of a health pandemic. Please see the HGS website for the full details or request a printed copy.

June 2020 - The Committee had decided that we would not hold any further field meetings until we knew whether the public liability insurance is still valid during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Geologists' Association (who arrange the insurance) has informed us that we can go ahead with meetings as long as we follow UK Givernment guidleines. It is likely that booking will be required for these meetings to comply with the guidance on the number of people attending.  

We are so sorry that we have had to cancel or postpone events because of the Covid pandemic. The Committee had a virtual meeting in May 2020 and decided that we should wait until the University of Hull provides definite dates for re-opening for lectures (rather than on-line teaching) before we finalise plans for our Winter Programme. Our Roadshows have been cancelled because the venues have been closed. Social distancing has meant that people have not booked for the field meetings. One Yorkshire Geology Month event was held in May with just two people (following Governement guidelines) to ensure continuity of the YGM since it was started in 2005 by Mike Horne and the HGS.

Yorkshire Geology Month 2020

Mike Horne leads the Yorkshire Geology Month

walk in Western Cemetery (Hull) in May 2020

20th March 2020 - we have created a Facebook Club Page so that members can take part in virtual Club Nights. Members who have paid their annual subscription can join: visit  or look search Facebook for "Hull Geological Society club page"

At the AGM on 12th March 2020 there was a discussion about whether to cancel meetings due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. It was decided that members could be trusted use their common sense about attending meetings and protecting their health. The field meetings would not be cancelled. The Roadshows and Club Nights might be affected if the hosts decided to close their premises. We will use water to dampen specimens to aid identification rather than spit on them this year, wash our hands more frequently and try to avoid shaking hands.

Richard Forrest at the AGM

Richard Forrest speaking after the 2020 AGM

Five new articles have been added to the Humberside Geologist Online website recently for volume 16 of our journal.

Abstracts from the 2020 Members' Evening

Abstract - The Lewis Penny Collection at Hull University by Mike Horne

The collection consists of Holderness erratics (some with thin sections), sub-fossils shells from Holderness, specimens from source areas and some archives. It was collected by Lewis Penny, John Catt, and Patrick Boylan. It was catalogued and dusted by Mike Horne, Rodger Connell in 2010 and 2012 and details were added to the University's electronic catalogue in 2019. We hope to make the catalogue available on our web pages to encourage other researchers to us the collection.

Abstract - Yorkshire Type Erratics by Mike Horne.

The members of the Hull Geological Society have been studying erratics since 1892 and the East Riding Boulder Committee was revived in 1987. Reports have been published in Transactions of the Hull Geological Society,  Humberside Geologist and the Ice Age Coast website. However have the rock types ever been defined? Is the "Norwegian Syanite" the same as Larvikite? Can we tell the difference between Grey Flint and Rhaxella Chert? I would suggest that it is time to create a type collection to define the erratics.

Abstract - Towards a practical stratigraphy for the Yorkshire Chalk by Mike Horne.

The Hull Geological Society started its Centenary Chalk Project in 1984. It became clear that there were problems with the biostratigraphy; some of the zone fossils are rare, some are hard to identify and none of the zones had been defined using scientific criteria of "first appearances". The "Lower Chalk" (to use an old term) shows considerable variation in the region. The "Middle Chalk" has a consistent lithostratigraphy. The "Upper Chalk" (Flamborough Formation) is only really accessible on the coast and the lithostratigraphy is difficult to follow in the field. Is it not time to merge the stratigaphies to create something that is of practical use in the field?

Thursday 14th November 2019 - (evening lecture) - Chris Darmon (of GeoSupplies) on "The Geology of Southern Norway"

 Abstract – “For more than 25 years Chris Darmon has been leading people on geology trips to Iceland, but he ran his last such trip in 2017 frustrated by sky high prices and perceived poor value of hotels. But how do you follow Iceland? Where else could offer a unique geological experience that was not to far away? The answer came following a personal holiday in 2017 and it was Norway. Thanks to a partnership with geopark Geonorvegia a nine-night itinerary was assembled that saw people arriving at Bergen and departing from Oslo. The first group of 39 people made the trip in April 2018. This talk takes you on that tour, taking in the thrust slices of Bergen and the fjords of Flam, not to mention the steepest adhesion-worked railway in Europe. Along the way you will see the view from the top of the funicular in Bergan and experience the anorthosites around Flam. After a day long journey across the roof of Norway by train, we arrive at the Geonorvegia geopark explored from our base in Skien. Over four days you will see the Precambrian metamorphic basement, a late Proterozoic carbonatite volcano, Lower Palaeozoic sediments and the Carboniferous igneous rocks of the Oslo Rift. The latter include the famous Larvikite, so well know to us in the UK. To finish the story we will explore something of the Quaternary and its glacial sediments and landforms. In his unique style Chris will tell you something about each of these topics as they crop up along the way. “

Thursday October 24th 2019 - (evening lecture) - Laura Eddey on "A Reevaluation of Lake Pickering, North Yorkshire".

Laura Eddey

Abstract –

During the Quaternary, repeated glacial cycles left widespread deposits across Britain. These deposits hold an archive of terrestrial responses to changes in climate over the last 2.6 Ma. One such archive is the Vale of Pickering in North Yorkshire: A low-lying depression bounded on all sides save the east end by large hills comprised of Jurassic and Cretaceous bedrock. During the Late Quaternary, this natural basin was blocked by ice sheets forming large proglacial lakes. To understand the advance and retreat of the surrounding ice lobes in the Vale of York to the west and the North Sea Lobe to the east – the deposits of the Vale of Pickering are crucial; however, limited work in the area has failed to ascertain an accurate history of Lake Pickering. Using newly available high-resolution LiDAR data, field observations, historic borehole records, and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, a new chronological model for Lake Pickering has been established. This shows that 1) previously estimated lake levels are too high and that during the LGM, Lake Pickering was no more than 33 m O.D. 2) Ice invaded the eastern coast of the Vale of Pickering on more than one occasion, potentially earlier than the LGM. 3) Several iterations of Lake Pickering exist with a lake during the LGM, but at least one older than 30 ka. 4) The drainage of Lake Pickering is very complex and seaward drainage likely prevailed until the eastern end became blocked by continued deposition of glacial material. This reversed the drainage through the Kirkham Gorge. 5) The use of newer geoscientific techniques like OSL and LiDAR mapping are crucial to the understanding of the palaeoenvironment of the Vale of Pickering and the continued development of these techniques are vital to further work.

In the Summer of 2019 the Yorkshire Geological Society published in its Proceedings a series of papers about the Chalk of the "Northern Province" generated by the Symposium held in Hull at the suggestion of Mike Horne. The original proposal was to discuss and resolve problems with Chalk biostratigraphy and although the agenda for the meeting  drifted in other directions the publication is quite an achievement. You can view the contents and abstracts by following this link

There were 17 events in the programme for Yorkshire Geology Month 2019, organised by Paul Hildreth and the Yorkshire Geological Society. It is good to see that Yorkshire Geology Month is still running; it was started in 2005 by members of the HGS (click here for a report of the first year).

Ian Heppenstall died of a heart attack on 9th March 2019, aged 72. His funeral was in the small chapel at Chanterlands Avenue Crematorium at 1pm on Monday 25th March. A collection was made for Parkinson’s Disease.

Lewis Rose

Whitham Medal 2019

The Felix Whitham Memorial Medal is awarded to Lewis Rose for his contribution to the understanding of local geology through the new Geology displays at Hornsea Museum. The medal is awarded “for contributions to new research into the geology of eastern Yorkshire or northern Lincolnshire, or it may be awarded for active contributions to geological outreach projects in the Hull area…."

Thursday 28th March 2019 - Dr Lyndsey Fox of Hull University on "Illuminating Anthropogenic climate change with 150 years of ocean science"

Abstract -

"Modern oceanography began with the HMS Challenger expedition from 1872 to 1876. This historic voyage was the first to specifically gather data on a wide range of ocean features, including ocean temperatures, seawater chemistry, currents, marine life and the geology of the sea floor. With the 150th anniversary of this momentous voyage fast approaching (2022), I aim to take the historical endeavours of this seminal expedition and combine them with 21st century cutting-edge science to tackle some of the most urgent questions of our time with regards to anthropogenic environmental change. The vast quantities of Challenger plankton tow material housed in the Natural History museum collections offers a singular opportunity to spotlight one of our most pressing environmental issues: ocean acidification (OA).

"Both measured and projected changes in seawater chemistry have potentially catastrophic biotic effects as OA hinders biogenic carbonate production, leading to substantial changes in marine ecosystems. Current attempts to address this issue via laboratory based studies have serious limitations, which can only be overcome by comparing newly discovered plankton tows from the historic HMS Challenger expedition (1872-1876) with the ground-breaking TARA expeditions (2009-2016). 

"Here we discuss the untapped potential of historical collections for gaining new insights into the sensitivity of the global climate system to CO2 forcing, as we present new data gathered over the past 12 months from two test sites in the tropical Pacific Ocean. These data revealed, without exception, that of the 24 specimens analysed through nanno-CT scanning; all modern foraminifera showed significantly thinner shells compared to their preindustrial counterparts (Figs. 1-3). Open ocean studies, such as this, are urgently needed to understand the impact of multi-stressor environments on shell parameters of multiple species, and reveal the magnitude of OA across the globe."

Thursday 21st March 2019 - Evening Lecture - Prof David Bond of Hull University on "When life nearly died - new perspectives on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction" and "Ediacaran-like textured organic surfaces: microbial mats thrived after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction" with displays.

David Bond

Abstracts -

"When life nearly died - new perspectives on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction"

At the end of the Permian, 252 million years (Myr) ago, Earth suffered its greatest ever crisis during which around 90% of living species were wiped out. Almost every group was affected, on land, and in the oceans, and it is the only mass extinction of insects. This truly was "the day the Earth nearly died" (although it lasted significantly longer than a day!). This was an event so catastrophic that it wiped the evolutionary slate clean, ultimately paving the way for the rise of the dinosaurs (and then, of course, humans). But what could possibly have caused such a disaster?


Despite controversy over the timing of losses, radio-isotopic dating indicates that extensive damage was done to both terrestrial and marine ecosystems in a very brief interval around the end of the period. The focus now is on understanding the role of the proposed kill mechanisms, including (in no particular order): global warming, ocean anoxia (deoxygenation) and acidification, volcanic winter, hypercapnia (CO2 poisoning), aridity on land, increased sediment flux to the oceans, ozone destruction and resultant harmful ultraviolet-B radiation, acid rain, atmospheric oxygen depletion, and poisoning by toxic trace metals. Each has probable origins in Siberian Traps volcanism, in particular the vast volumes of gases (e.g. CO2) that must have been released. The latest work is beginning to reveal the likeliest culprits: extreme global warming and its knock-on effects, perhaps coupled with an acidification crisis in the oceans.

"Ediacaran-like textured organic surfaces: microbial mats thrived after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction"

Lower Triassic marine strata of the Sverdrup Basin (Arctic Canada) include a thick succession of sandy and silty facies that record life in the aftermath of the end Permian mass extinction. Proxies for oxygenation (trace metals, pyrite framboids) suggest that dysoxic conditions prevailed in the Basin for much of the Early Triassic. This suppressed bioturbation and allowed the frequent development of microbially-induced sedimentary structures (MISS), including wrinkle structures, Kinneyia and bubble texture. The microbial mats responsible for these structures are envisaged to have thrived, in dysoxic settings, within the photic zone, on fine sand substrates. The dysoxic history was punctuated by better-oxygenated phases, which coincide with the loss of MISS. Thus, Permo-Triassic boundary and Griesbachian mudrocks from the deepest-water settings have common benthos and a well-developed, tiered burrow profile dominated by Phycosiphon. MISS are also lacking from Skolithos-burrowed, nearshore sandstones that developed during basin-wide oxygenation in the late Dienerian. Intervals of the intense burrowing in the earliest Triassic contradicts the notion that bioturbation was severely suppressed at this time due to extinction losses at the end of the Permian.


Thursday 21st February 2019  - Evening Lecture  - Prof Chris Clark of Sheffield University on the "Retreat of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet "

Abstract –

We have known for a long time that a kilometres-thick ice sheet largely covered Britain and Ireland during the last glacial, peaking at around 27,000 years ago. Most evidence for its geometry arises from tens of thousands of geological and geomorphological observations, but almost wholly restricted to land. The earliest researchers (e.g. Geike 1867) were happy to use simple glaciological logic (presumed ice sheet symmetry) to reconstruct ice margins that reached far offshore and to the continental shelf edge. Such views were rejected by more conservative and evidence-based approaches that followed, leading to reconstructions of a mostly terrestrially-restricted ice sheet. Numerical ice sheet models of the time did what they were told regarding ice limits. Over the last decade the focus of investigation has moved offshore, enabled by new high resolution bathymetric and shallow seismic data, and leading to a ‘gold-rush’ of discoveries that have transformed our understanding. The continental shelf has abundant evidence of grounded ice cover.


The BRITICE-CHRONO consortium of researchers has been a six year project to constrain the timing of retreat of the British-Irish Ice Sheet by a systematic dating programme focussed on the marine-to-terrestrial transition. From two research cruises some 18,000 km of geophysical data and 377 vibro- and piston cores, along with many stratigraphic sections on land have been used to provide material for dating. The aims and objectives of the project and progress thus far will be reported along with some highlights from the various transects under investigation. The new BRITICE Glacial map of Britain and Ireland will be shown which contains some 170,000 glacial landforms.


A unique piece of geo-art is for sale. For the "On the Endless Here" collaboration between local artists and members of the Society, Anna Kirk-Smith created a piece called “With a Learner’s Faith”. Anna is now moving to a smaller studio in Bridlington and would like to sell the work to a interested geologist rather than auction it. If you would like to make an offer please email the HGS Secretary.

“With a Learner’s Faith”

Anna describes the work -

This painting / construct was part of the On the Endless Here show;  the accompanying description is below. It is on MDF / wooden frame with a painted/drawn surface and 3D objects/fossils. It is quite large - approx. A1 in size.

This once was how the George Lamplugh described his approach to his studies of the Pleistocene tills and fossils at Bridlington Crag, including Danes Dyke, South Landing and Sewerby, my initial stomping grounds. He began his field observations in 1878, at the tender age of 19 years and was a descriptive genius. I put my “learners faith” (utterly devoid of genius) in the Hull Geological Society and began the exploratory field trips with the members to the headland (sagely noting the white stone,  and overlying brown ooze), beyond that observation in these initial days they could have been talking a foreign language. My early field book notes consist of a list of geological jargon with question marks beside them (for later looking-up in a dictionary), and copied (thankfully idiot-proof) diagrams that Mike Horne drew in the sand with his umbrella to explain the surroundings. Initially it didn’t help that this was a questionable landscape – I was trying to comprehend the unknown, the hypothesized, about a terrain that just kept throwing geological curveballs. However once I had settled into the frame of mind that 2+2 might equal 4, 5 or indeed any other random integer potentially proven or disproven by sampling; I became less worried by predetermined fact and more intent upon potential areas of enquiry.

After 2 years of field visits, gone to me  is the visually nice white chalk topped with that ooze of brown mud; and an appreciation has appeared of forensic searching for biostratigraphical fossils, posing reasons for folding and faulting, descriptions of marl content, determining the age and colour of till samples, magnifying grains of sand to distinguish the processes they have undergone, pondering the far flung origins of glacial erratics and weaving predictions around the size, sorting, orientation, shape and turbation of chalk clasts. Within these lay the foundation for the headland’s narrative probability.

So this particular artwork sprang from that empathy with Lamplugh’s initial search of an unexplored, misunderstood terrain. He possessed far more knowledge than I when he studied the headland, so as a complete initiate, I have in the artwork reverted to a primary Victorian method of learning: the ABC, and added a flavour of my research, queries, field notes and visual perceptions I had to forage for in order to try and understand some of the geological riddle of Flamborough."

Click here for the On the Endless Here Facebook page. There is also an OTEH website projects page on


Thursday 17th January 2019 - Evening lecture - Dr. Michael Oates on "Exploring Morocco's Palaeontological Riches".

Michael Oates

The speaker on a heavily dug hillside of Devonian mudstone near Tazoulait

Abstract - The southeastern part of Morocco lies within the limits of the Sahara Desert and is an arid desolate, scarcely inhabited environment, with an undulating eroded basement of folded Palaeozoic sediments beneath an unconformable cover of horizontal Cretaceous deposits.  The common theme to all these sediments is that they have suffered relatively little structural or thermal modification and are very fossiliferous.  An overland expedition in early 2018 examined the geology in three areas of southeast Morocco, near Taouz, Alnif and Goulmima, which is just at the margin of the Atlas mountains.  Because the African continent has remained fairly stable throughout Phanerozoic time, there has been less burial than might be expected, and the preservation of the fossils is correspondingly excellent.  Expect to hear about Ordovician trilobites in abundance, a surprise Silurian limestone with 3D graptolites, Devonian shelf faunas and Upper Cretaceous freshwater to marine fossils, and how they are found.  Without the restrictions of a 20kg airline baggage allowance, as many specimens as I can carry will be available to view on the night.

ammonite miners

Ammonite, Fish and Reptile miners of Asfla


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