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News archive 2021-2022

Copyright Hull Geological Society.

 The Felix Whitham Medal for 2023 was awarded to Patrick Boylan for his continued efforts to share his interest in local geology especially the Quaternary, in particular his recent talks about Kirkdale Cave and the Neanderthals.

HGS Christmas Quiz 2022 - with question rounds set by Terry Rockett, Mary Howard  and Mike Horne. - click here to see the questions and answers (picture round excluded)

Wednesday 7th December 2022 - “Bay Area Exotics - Subducted High-Pressure/Low Temperature Rocks found around San Francisco Bay" by John Connor


Abstract –
This talk returns to the topic of Subduction and the rocks that have been through that process. Unlike the cherts found in abundance in and around San Francisco, which have hardly been subducted at all, there are many fewer examples of rocks of the blueschist facies, whose original, un-metamorphosed minerals have been transformed by high pressures and not-so-high temperatures. These rocks are interpreted to have descended as the Farallon Plate was subducted under the North American Plate, being changed in their mineral content at considerable depth, and then “exhumed” to the surface again. The rarest of these very dense rocks is eclogite, found in one or two locations near San Francisco - its mineralogy proves that it has been subjected to very high pressures before being raised to the surface, by mechanisms that are still poorly understood.
In the talk, we’ll review how geologists have developed the pressure/temperature theories that yield these “exotic” rocks, and, to a certain extent, have replicated these high -pressure minerals in the laboratory. There’ll be photos from the half dozen blueschist facies locations near San Francisco, plus some examples of similar subducted rocks from other parts of the world.

Journal of the Harker Geological Society

The Harker Geological Society at the University of Hull is planning to digitize its archives and has agreed that works about the geology of East Yorkshire can be republished by the Hull G.S. on our website. We thank the Secretary (Jan Silva) and President (Louis Chambers) for their help.

Mike Horne (HGS Honorary General Secretary) has been awarded the Moore Medal by the Yorkshire Geological Society in "acknowledgment of services to geology in the north of England". Click Here to read Mike's Acceptance Speech.

Humberside Geologist - the editors have decided to start a new volume for 2023. At present there are no plans to produce a printed version of Number 16.

Wednesday 16th November 2022 -  John Connor on "Coastal Erosion & Accretion in Holderness, the Humber, Lincolnshire and East Anglia; Comparing & Contrasting the Causes of the Loss of Coastal Villages."

coastal erosion Yorkshire and Norfolk

Abstract -

Dozens of villages along the coasts of the eastern counties of England, whose existence had been well documented in various medieval manuscripts, such as Domesday Book and the Chronicles of Meaux Abbey, were subsequently “Lost to the Sea”. The cause of this loss was, of course, coastal erosion, but there are apparently big variations along these coasts in the number of villages lost, so there must have been significant differences – geological, geomorphological and probably historical – which account for these variations.

This talk will attempt to illustrate, by comparing & contrasting, a range of factors that together might explain the differences between the 4 coastlines and describe what (if anything) has been, and is being, done to mitigate further loss of these coastlines.

Wednesday 9th November 2022 - Mike Horne on the "Rocks under Kingston upon Hull"

Abstract -

Understanding the local rocks is crucial in planning how we prepare for increased subsidence, flooding and coastal erosion due to climate change in our area. The potential of fracking for shale gas within the deep geology is providing us with a topical controversy. However, the most important role of the rocks is to provide a never-ending interest for the members of the Hull Geological Society!

Winter Programme 2022-2023- "Due to continuing uncertainty about the Secretary’s health the Committee has decided not to restart indoor Club Nights and lectures until the Secretary has fully recovered from the treatment. We still plan to continue to run some meetings on Zoom, Club Nights on Facebook and pop-up field meetings, which will be advertised on our website and by e-mail. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to members, especially those who do not access e-mail or the internet."

Wednesday 14th September 2022 - Zoom talk at 7-30pm - John Connor on "Geology of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada"

Abstract –
Not far to the west of the gambling dens and fleshpots of the Las Vegas Strip is the Red Rock National Conservation Area – a wonderful place to admire the geology by hiking along the many trails that wind across the desert, into, and then through several mountain canyons.
Although it’s the name “Red Rock Canyon”, coming from the strongly coloured Miocene Aztec Sandstone, which most attracts the day-trippers from Las Vegas, it’s the Keystone Thrust that geologists come to admire, putting Palaeozoics on top of Lower Mesozoic rocks.
This talk will feature photos taken on three visits to the area in the winters of 2015, 2018 and 2019, with an attempt to explain its long and complex structural and stratigraphical geologic history. There’s also evidence of more recent movements – that of the first indigenous people arriving to inhabit these cool canyons, around 11,000 years ago.

The Secretary apologizes for having to postpone the August and September Club Nights, but he will not be available to facilitate them, nor lead the field trip to South Ferriby. Hopefully they can be re-arranged later.

Wednesday 20th July 2022  - Zoom talk at 7-30pm - John Connor on "More Chert Than You Can Shake A Stick At".

more cherts

Abstract -

Chert, along with Flint, is probably the most common form of the mineral Silicon Dioxide. Chert itself has more than one form – the subject of this talk will be radiolarian ribbon chert, which is deposited, according to a definition by USRA, as “a type of quartz formed when single-celled radiolarians living in the ocean die and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Their skeletons are made of silica (SiO) and they accumulate in beds hundreds of feet thick”.

There’s a lot of chert in the San Francisco Bay Area, essentially all of it coming from deep-sea sedimentary deposits near the ocean-floor spreading centre of the Pacific and then transported eastwards to impact the North American continent. During this collision the chert is partly subducted/mainly crumpled into the “accretionary wedge” that forms the structurally very complex geology in and around San Francisco.

This talk will describe the current geologic thinking about the formation, transport and deformation of the Bay Area ribbon chert. Because this rock is very resistant to weathering, it forms ridges and is often seen in outcrop. While these outcrops occur over a wide swath of the Bay Area, we’ll concentrate on the Marin Headlands, immediately north of the Golden Gate, where the outcrops are most dramatically displayed.


Martin Brasier plaque

On the afternoon of 14th May 2022 a plaque was unveiled by the the family of Martin Brasier at their former home in Marlborough Avenue, Hull. The plaque and event was organised by the Avenues Residents Association.
Martin (1947-2014) was a lecturer in the Geology Department at Hull University from (roughly) 1975 to 1988. Here he founded, with Prof John Neale, a Master’s Degree course in Micropaleontology. When the Department closed he transferred to Oxford University where he became a Professor. He died in a car crash shortly after his retirement. He wrote the textbook “Microfossils” and two books about very old fossils: ”Darwin’s lost world” and “Secret Chambers”, as well as publishing many papers in scientific journals.

Martin Brasier tribute unveiling


The Committee has decided not to hold our usual Winter Programme of guest lectures at the University in 2022-2023. There may be some talks on Zoom and informal talks at the University. (2nd June 2022)


Mortimer Huseum in Driffield

(photo by R Connell)

Postponed until further notice - Walk in the footsteps of John Robert Mortimer on the one hundred and eleventh anniversary of his death. Led by Rodger Connell.

"John Robert Mortimer (15/6/1825 - 19/8/1911). Mortimer was born in Fimber, a village on the Yorkshire Wolds, west of Driffield. In business he was a seed, manure and fertilizer merchant. As a young man he travelled to London for the 1851 Great Exhibition. He also visited the British Museum which sparked his interest in archaeology and geology. Alongside his business interests he subsequently excavated many burial barrows on the Wolds. In 1878 (ten years before the Hull Geological Society was formed!) he built a museum in Lockwood Street, Driffield (now the Masonic Hall) to house the many thousands of artifacts he had recovered

"We should meet at the car park at Cross Hill (pay and display unfortunately! See attached map) at 10.30am. An additional pay and display car park can be found at Beckside/Cattle Market. We will walk south down St John's Road, left into Lockwood Street, on to Middle Street South, and finally to Riverhead (altogether about 1km) passing sites related to Mortimers life and work. Afterwards walk back into town via Middle Street South to the car parks. There are a number of cafes on the way for refreshments! The walk could take an hour or an hour and a half I guess."

Click here for our most recent publications.

The Society apologies for changing the start times for the Spring and Summer 2022 meetings at the University to 6-15pm and appreciates that this may not be convenient for some members. This is because we are experiencing problems with access to the building in the evenings and we hope to be able to return to our normal start time of 7-30pm for the Winter Programme. The Committee has agreed to continue to have a mix of virtual and actual Club nights and talks for the forthcoming year. in his Annual Report for the AGM the Secretary commented "I do appreciate that some members do not have access to the internet and that some choose not to use Zoom or Facebook, but it does mean that ‘out of town’ members have the opportunity to participate in some of our activities when they live too far away to attend evening lectures in Hull, or prefer not to drive after dark."

Wednesday 13th April 2022 (rescheduled) – lecture on Zoom by John Connor -   “Mud Volcanoes of the South Caspian Sea”


Abstract –

This talk was first given to the Bay Area Geophysical Society, so you can expect to see some seismic sections, and even a few equations, in the process of interpreting the seabed geology.

From the Oil & Gas Industries’ viewpoint, a mud volcano located on or near an oil or gas field that is in the process of being developed is categorized as a Geohazard – that’s to say, a geological, geomorphological or environmental feature, on or near the seabed, that could seriously disrupt the engineering work required for the installation of offshore development platforms and the associated sub-sea equipment needed to safely extract the oil and/or gas.

In the South Caspian Sea there are several such mud volcanoes, which have indeed required the operators of the fields to identify them, and to avoid positioning their offshore equipment on or near them. This talk will show how geophysics can be used to identify areas of the seabed and near subsurface where geohazards are present – it will focus on a particularly big mud volcano called Absheron.


Covid has not gone away. The Committee has decided not to restart indoor meetings in the early months of 2022. We hope that it will be safe to do so in March, starting with the Annual General Meeting.


Thursday 2nd December, 2021, 19:30 Zoom meeting -  Dr Sam Griffirths : Geology and Humans: Chalk and cheese or intertwined….

Abstract - Yorkshire has a rich and fascinating geological history… but what about geo-archaeology? Join us at the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN) to discuss our local prehistory and explore the deep connections to the geology and sea. From Early Humans to Bronze Age trackways we have an equally rich record of heritage just waiting to be discovered.

  Dr Sam Griffiths works for MOLA – the Museum of London Archaeology practice. He was the Discovery Programme Officer and lead archaeologist on the CITiZAN project in the Humberside   has a wealth of experience on multi-period archaeological sites across the UK and Europe.  

NOTE - The talk was postponed due to technical problems. Sam was unable to re-schedule the talk due to illness and the CITIZAN Project ending in April 2022

Ten new papers were published in Humberside Geologist Online in 2021 and many previous articles from Transactions of the Hull Geological Society and Humberside Geologist have been republished on our website.

In October 2021 Arthur Speed sent a questionnaire to members asking what they valued about the HGS and for suggestions for the future.

Here are the suggestions and the actions we have taken -

You said

We did

Attract new members,

particularly younger people

Ten new members and families joined in the 2021-2022 season. We are planning Roadshows and other activities in 2022 to attract new members. Members are encouraged to spread the joy of geology.

Encourage student membership

We now have closer links with the Harker Geological Society and they now have a representative on our Committee.

Restart activities after Covid

Indoor meetings restarted in February 2022

Closer links with other societies  

We plan to have displays at the YGS event at Caphouse Colliery in May and the Yorkshire Fossil Festival in Scarborough in September. We will be helping the Geologists’ Association at the Annual Conference in Hull in September.

Hold discussion sessions during

Club Nights

There is no reason why we cannot hold a debate at a Club Night – please suggest a topic. Club Nights are quite informal and we do chat a lot already.

Develop the relationship with the University

University students and staff are always welcome at our meetings.

Start a project to get members involved

There are two projects ongoing (Flamborough Quaternary and the Bisat Project), but please do suggest another one.

Restart courses on Geology

The geology courses were run by the University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning – they did all the admin and publicity and paid for the insurance and tutors. This would be beyond our capabilities and funding. However we can include some seminars and masterclasses in our programmes.

Field meetings to a wider variety of sites lead by “new faces”.

For the spring of 2002 we have planned a weekend trip to Anglesey led by David Hill and to Wold Newton Lincolnshire led by Martin Longshaw. All members are welcome to volunteer to organise a field meeting – they don’t have to be “experts”.


The Committee has co-opted Peter Carpenter into the role of Membership Secretary. Members addresses, e-mail addresses and subscription history (but not bank details) will be shared with Peter. You can contact Peter by using this e-mail address :

HGS Membership Secretary

Middlegate Quarry, South Ferriby

Wednesday 2nd June 2021 - evening zoom talk - Paul Hildreth on "The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful (an overview of the history, importance and future of Middlegate Quarry, South Ferriby)"

abstract -  Middlegate Quarry was opened to supply the local works, established in 1938, with chalk, one of the raw materials required for making cement. Clay, the other ingredient, was initially taken from local till and alluvial deposits. A well-known and well-respected member of the Hull Geological Society was responsible, at least in part, for the suggestion of deepening the quarry to exploit an alternative source of clay when the original became exhausted and its extraction threatened to de-stabilise the Humber bank defences. Thus a gem of a geological site was created, a magnet for Mesozoic research and a treasure trove of late Jurassic vertebrates and invertebrates, particularly ammonites. Sadly, the cement works ceased production in early 2020.  The quarry has become redundant and this has led to significant consequences for geologists. But not all is lost! This talk presents a short history of the site, the reasons for its geological importance and, though it may never recover its former glory, a report of what remains and a possible future.

Barrie Heaton and the HGS 2019

Barrie Heaton at the HGS fieldtrip to Newbald in 2019

Barrie Heaton

It is with sadness that I have to inform you that Barrie Heaton passed away on May 14th 2021. Barrie joined the Hull Geological Society in 1995 and was an active member until recently. He was our Treasurer from 2002 to 2010, Vice President from 2010 to 2012 and President from 2012 to 2015. Barrie was elected as an Honorary Life Member of the Society in 2017.

Wednesday 12th May 2021 – Zoom talk John Connor, retired geophysicist – Chevron Corporation, California. Born & grew up off Beverley Road in Hull – School was Marist College

“The Use of Geophysics in Marine Archaeology”

Geophysics in Marine Archaeology

Abstract –

The first thing I should say is that I’m not an archaeologist. The idea for this talk came about when I was browsing the internet for information about existing high-resolution seismic data off the Holderness Coast. This search led me to an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Hornsea Three Wind Farm, which is expected to begin construction in 2023.

Before construction work starts, as part of the EIA, various geotechnical and geophysical surveys are required by the UK Government to be run, reported on in detail, and published for public review and comment. The geophysics in talk is about the offshore side-scan sonar, magnetic and seismic surveys and the results from these surveys, as published in the EIA.  There will also be some background data on Doggerland, the timing of sea-level rises in the North Sea, the consequent Holocene sediment deposition, & importantly, whether some of our ancestors lived out there.

Graham Kings and the Bisat Group

At the Bisat Research Group field meeting at Mappleton on 16th April 2021 the Secretary presented the 2021 Felix Whitham Memorial Medal to Graham Kings (on the right). Graham was awarded the medal “for leading the Bisat groups mammoth exercise of the photography of the glacial sediments of the entire Holderness cliffs (2014-2019). Curating and safeguarding the photo archive. And beginning the detailed stratigraphic logging of new and important sections in the cliffs.” Also in the picture are Dennis (on the left) and Arthur from the Group.


.Yorkshire Type Erratics

Thursday 8th April 2021 -  Zoom lecture meeting - Mike Horne on "the Type Erratics collection"

Abstract – Geologists have been studying the glacial erratics of Holderness and the surrounding areas for about 150 years; is it now time to agree definitions of these and work to the same standard? In this talk Mike will discuss some of the problems and describes his plan to create a “type collection” at the University of Hull.

The Secretary's Report for 2020-2021 is now available on our website


San Andreas Fault

Wednesday 27th January 2021 - Zoom Talk - John Connor on Geomorphological Aspects of the San Andreas Fault

Abstract -

The geology of the San Francisco Bay Area is complicated, to say the least. There are two main reasons for this – first, and more important structurally, is the subduction of the Pacific Plate under the North American Plate, from roughly 30 to 20 million years ago, though there’s a section to the north, off the Oregon & Washington State coastlines, which is still subducting.

Rocks subject to this subduction from the Pacific oceanic crust have been crumpled into an “accretionary wedge”, forming several small but very varied lithologic “terranes”, which stack up across a roughly 30 mile west-to-east zone comprising the San Francisco Bay Area.

This zone is demarked on the east by the Hayward Fault and on the west, roughly parallel to the coast, by the San Andreas Fault Zone. Between them, these two right-lateral strike slip faults are responsible for moving rocks northwards, perhaps up to 200 miles from Southern California to the Bay Area. The San Andreas Fault is the prime culprit and also the second reason for the complicated geology of the area.

This talk will start by describing the structural setting, followed by photos of local outcrops of some of the terranes. Repeated earthquake movement on the San Andreas Transform Fault over the past few million years has produced an elongate “valley”, onshore & offshore. The remainder of the talk will be a photo tour, from north to south, looking at 6 locations which, although all valleys of a sort, are geomorphologically different.

Neanderthals in suits

Wednesday 4th February 2021 - Zoom Lecture - Professor Patrick Boylan, School of Arts and Social Sciences, City, University of London on "New light on the Neanderthals: music, rope-making. and now an apparent genetic link to Coronavirus"

Abstract -

The Middle and Upper Pleistocene Neaderthals have generally had a bad press through more than a century and a half. Until comparatively recently Neanderthals were widely regarded and caricatured as primitive, clumsy and probably brutal, creatures. Knowledge, and more important, attitudes have changed remarkably in the last 20 years or so, through many additional discoveries and new interpretations of this hominin species. We now know that Neaderthals were dominant across most of Europe and beyond from around 400,00 to 40,000 years ago, with significant populations stretching from the Mediterranean and beyond out into what is now known as “Doggerland” – the vast area of land under what is now the North Sea, while DNA studies show that Neanderthal genes survive in many present-day populations.

More and more is also being discovered about the culture and traditions of these populations.  I was able to help in a minor way with one of the most remarkable indications of Neanderthal flute made out of the thigh bone of a young Cave Bear. To most people’s astonishment the holes drilled through the bone were in exactly the same relative positions as in a modern instrument, and would have played the musical notes of the modern diatonic (Do, Re, Mi) musical scale. Also, recent work in Gibraltar and elsewhere has found evidence of both art and personal adornment with feathers.

In March 2020 an equally significant technological discovery was made in France during excavations of Neanderthal levels within the Abri du Maras Cave located in the Ardèche valley, a tributary of the River Rhône. Due to preservation conditions organic remains other that bones and teeth are generally very extremely rare. However, one of the stone flakes, 60mm long, was found to have a tiny fragment of 3-ply cord adhering to the stone tool. On microscopic examination the cord consists of fibres derived from the inner bark of gymnosperm plants or trees, most likely conifers.

This was not just the only startling Neanderthal discovery announced in 2020. Medical reports of investigations into possible genetic risk factors for COVID-19 published in September and October 2020 show that a Neanderthal derived gene cluster on chromosome 3 is linked to respiratory failure in severe COVID-19 infections. 

There is clearly very much more to learn about the Neanderthals more than 30,000 years after they finally became extinct.

Tony Benfiend (HGS member and former YGS Secretary) has been awarded the Moore Medal by the Yorkshire Geological Society in "acknowledgment of services to geology in the north of England".

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