Cor, a real winter. Many of us can still remember them (62/63 anyone?), but the present one is a reminder that our temperatures, despite global warming, are still capable of falling sharply. This present winter is not in the same league as the 62/63 deep freeze of course, unless February and March surprise us, but nevertheless we have experienced extended spells of freezing temperatures recently. What’s that got to do with geology you might ask? Well, not much directly, but if you are prepared to don suitable clothing and gather together your hammers and sample bags, the winter offers excellent opportunities for studying geology in the field. The reason of course is that all the vegetation dies back, revealing sequences barely glimpsed in the Spring and Summer. Access to sites is often easier too, and other folks are much less likely to be there to get in the way of your definitive locality photographs. So this is a plea not to write off the Winter months from your personal field trips calendar. Get out there and enjoy the winter sunshine, and then send your field shots to me at ‘Charnia’!
The great outdoors in winter is not for all of us however, but there’s always the consolation of the Geology Section’s excellent indoor winter programme. One of its undoubted highlights is the Saturday Seminar, again scheduled for March this year in the fine surroundings of the Ken Edwards Building. There’s a rumour that 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and we’re joining in by taking that great scientist as our broad theme and linking in tales of the great pioneers of geology who preceded and succeeded him. We’ve got some cracking talks lined up, two with very different takes on Darwin himself, and four others which deal with such Victorian mega-stars as William Buckland, Henry de la Beche, Charles Lapworth, and Roderick Murchison. We’ve also got a gem of a talk about that fascinating character James Parkinson, famous for his ‘disease’, but also instrumental in the formation of the Geological Society and a true pioneer if ever there was one. That talk will be given by Dr Cherry Lewis, the author of the best-selling ‘The Dating Game’. You will find details about the day elsewhere in this Charnia, and any member of the organising committee (myself, the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Publicity Officer, Professor Aldridge and David Baines) will be happy to provide you with any other information you might require. Tickets are now available from Secretary Fiona Barnaby (or any committee member will pass your request and money on to her), priced at £20 to include buffet lunch and £13 without lunch. And we’ll be putting on a post-seminar wine reception too, also in the Ken Edwards and only a short step from the lecture theatre. One of the original aims of the Section in starting the Saturday Seminar was to throw open our doors to the greater public, and that remains a key element in our intentions. Please tell your friends about the day, and encourage them to attend.
In the past the Section has been well entertained by talks from a prominent member of the Geology Department at Leicester University, Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, and it may interest members that Jan has branched out into the field of popular geological literature, with a book entitled ‘The Earth after us’, published by Oxford University Press. One of Jan’s major interests of recent years is legacy that we, humanity, will leave to the Earth and how the phenomenal impact we are currently making will be reflected in the geological record in the far distant future. Its not an encouraging prospect, but it is a fascinating subject, imaginatively dealt with and lucidly written. Ideal for winter reading, and available from the usual outlets, including the Leicester University bookshop and Amazon on the internet.