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Geology of Britain

January 12, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - January 28, 2021 @ 4:00 pm

An accessible introduction to the geology of Britain.

Image: Loch Erisort from Cromor.

This is a series of six lectures by Alison Tymon on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4pm. This listing is for the full series; you can buy tickets to individual lectures here.

Britain has a huge variety of rocks of all ages in its relatively small area. Geological activity in Britain is related to the movements and collisions of tectonic plates over the last three billion years, in particular the two most dramatic mountain building events: the Caledonian mountain building episode which culminated with a tectonic plate collision which affected the rock structures in northern England and Scotland; the Variscan mountain building episode during the Carboniferous period, which influenced the south west of Britain. Because the British landscape reflects the underlying geology, the course is illustrated with many images of the varied scenery of Britain. Many of you will recognise parts of the country that you have visited and which have landscapes of geological interest. I have divided this course into six sections in chronological order, starting with the oldest and most complex rocks in the north west of Britain and finishing with the glacial events of more recent times and some speculation about what might happen in the future. Geology has complicated terminology and some of the rocks are not easy to understand even for geologists, but this course will simplify unfamiliar ideas and be accessible to all, whatever your prior knowledge. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of each session.

Tuesday 12th January 16.00 – 17.00 THE ANCIENT ROCKS IN BRITAIN

The ancient Precambrian rocks of Scotland and Northern Ireland give spectacular landscapes in north-west Scotland but also underlie the rest of the UK. 2,900 – 542 million years

Thursday 14th January 16.00 – 17.00 CLOSING THE IAPETUS OCEAN

Sediments were deposited during Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian times in the ocean between two continents and rocks of this age are now seen in the hills and mountains of Scotland, the Lake District and Wales. 542 – 416 million years

Tuesday 19th January 16.00 – 17.00 CALEDONIAN MOUNTAIN BUILDING

The Caledonian mountain building event was caused by a tectonic plate collision that created a chain of mountains across what is now northern Britain. Weathering and erosion in arid times during the Devonian period deposited Old Red Sandstone. 416 – 345 million years

Thursday 21st January 16.00 – 17.00 THE HOT, WET CARBONIFEROUS PERIOD

During the Carboniferous period, the continent drifted into equatorial latitudes. Sediments were deposited in shallow water and on land, providing Britain with economic resources such as limestone and coal. 345 – 300 million years

Tuesday 26th January 16.00 – 17.00 THE SEDIMENTARY ROCKS OF LOWLAND ENGLAND

The Variscan plate collision across middle Europe created new rocks and structures, particularly in the south of England. The sedimentary rocks of the Permian, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were deposited on gentle uplands or in shallow seas in a warm climate. 300 – 65 million years

Thursday 28th January 16.00 – 17.00 VOLCANOES IN SCOTLAND AND THE RECENT ICE AGE

The opening of the north Atlantic gave rise to dramatic volcanic activity in north west Scotland and northern Ireland, while the formation of the Alpine mountain chain affected the rocks of the south of England. The last Ice Age started 2.6 million years ago and influenced all of Britain during the many advances and retreats of ice sheets. Are we in the Anthropocene now? 65 million years until the present time.

Lectures will be delivered via Zoom. If you haven’t used Zoom before, please go to www.zoom.us and look at the tutorials. Once you have booked, you will find the Zoom invitation in the Online Event Page on Eventbrite. You will also receive an email with the invitation 24 hours before the event. If you can’t find the invitation, please email berwickea@gmail.com.

If you book this course online, we will hold your personal data in accordance with our privacy policy. If you do not wish us to hold your personal data, please book by post (see www.berwickea.org) and do not supply an email address.


January 12, 2021 @ 4:00 pm
January 28, 2021 @ 4:00 pm
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