Monthly CGS talks in Cambridge

We have a programme of 10 talks running from September 2021 to June 2022, held on the second Monday of every month. All talks (unless specified otherwise) are at 7.30 pm (doors open 7.00 pm). Everyone welcome, free to CGS members, £3 for non members (free when on ZOOM although donations are welcome!).

Our programme for the Sep 2021 – June 2022 season consists of online talks (using ZOOM) that are free to watch and open to everyone (you just need to register, by contacting us to get the link. Once registered you will be sent the ZOOM link each month.

Talks are recorded but the recorded version is only available to members as part of their membership benefits.

Monday 13th September 2021 7.30pm

(by ZOOM – please register by contacting us)

Conserving Cambridgeshire’s Geological Heritage: Local Geological Sites – what they are and why they matter

Reg Nicholls, Chris Donnelly, David Brooks (CGS)

The pressure on land in Cambridgeshire comes from many sources – building, agriculture, infrastructure and extraction being the commonest. Although the county is not blessed with many sites where geology can easily be seen, it has a rich earth heritage so we have a duty to identify and preserve as many of the precious geologically important sites as we can.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Geological Sites (LGS) are recognized in the planning system as areas that require consideration for their geological, educational and aesthetic value. In addition, if they are publicly accessible, they help us to tell the story of our local geology and landscape.

Using examples from some sites for which the Society has recently achieved LGS status (Great Fen, Nine Wells and East Pit), we will cover what being an LGS means, the criteria required for designation and also consider other sites that represent the county’s interesting geology.

Monday 11th October 2021 7.30pm

(by ZOOM – please register by contacting us)

Landslides in the UK – there aren’t that many surely?  Think again.

Catherine Pennington, The British Geological Society

From a small rock tumbling down a cliff to large deep-seated rotational landslides that disrupt roads and railways, there are now over 18,000 landslides documented in the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) National Landslide Database.  Catherine Pennington, an Engineering Geologist and Landslide Specialist at BGS, will take us on a tour of key landslides in the UK and discuss some of the research the BGS are doing with this geohazard that is set to become a more frequent event as the climate changes.

Catherine is an Engineering Geologist and Landslide Specialist and lead for the BGS coastal landslide field observatory project that monitors and interprets long-term landslide behaviour processes. She is also part of the team that issue Daily Landslide Hazard Assessments for the Natural Hazards Partnership in the UK.


Monday 8th November 2021 7.30pm

(by ZOOM – please register by contacting us) (follows our AGM which starts at 7 pm)

Palynology and its applications: palaeontology’s darkest art.

Dr. Jan Hennissen, The British Geological Society

The perhaps obscure science of palynology focuses on the study of microscopic specimens resistant to mineral acids. Yet, it contributes to our understanding of the natural environment, aids in correlation of boreholes and geological sections and charts past and current changes to our climate. This talk offers an overview of historical and modern palynological applications ranging from biostratigraphy to palaeo-ecology and its potential to constrain future climate models. Dr Hennissen has been a Palynologist for over 14 years. His title at BGS, Keyworth is ” Biostratigraphy and Palynology Lab Manager” and his current research is to evaluate the primary depositional conditions of Carboniferous mudstones. He graduated from Ghent and Liege Universities before achieving his PhD at the the University of Toronto.

Monday 13th December 2021 7.30pm

(by ZOOM – please register by contacting us)

The Geology of the Lower Cam and Wicken – From Horningsea to Upware in 10 Easy Steps 

By Dr Steve Boreham

This talk will describe the architecture of Holocene and earlier deposits in the Wicken Vision area, where the Lower Cam valley joins southern Fenland.  This area has two disparate sedimentary systems. The deposits are sometimes cryptic, and outcrops and topography are often mantled beneath an overgrowth of late Holocene peat. The Wicken Vision is a hundred-year scheme by the National Trust to create a new 53 km2 nature reserve between Cambridge and Wicken Fen. The area is characterised by its flat, low-lying topography and by soils developed on Holocene peat overlying clay-rich bedrock. However, such a simplistic description masks a wealth of geological complexity.

Dr Steve Boreham was formerly a researcher at University of Cambridge specialising in the Pleistocene and later sedimentation events in the wider Cambridgeshire area. In 2015 he created WildReach to provide information about Wildlife Resources around the village of Reach, Cambridgeshire.



Friends Meeting House

Talks Venue

Friends (Quaker) Meeting House

91 – 93 Hartington Grove,

If possible please use the Hall car park otherwise please park in Coleridge Road or Hartington Grove towards Hills Road.

NB The Friends Meeting House is on the left if coming from the direction of Hills Road and on the right if coming from Cherry Hinton Road (opposite side to the marker shown on the map).

Friends of the Sedgwick Museum

The Friends organise a series of lectures in Cambridge (doors open, 6.15 pm for 7.00 pm in the Department of Earth Sciences)  during autumn and winter and field trips during the spring and summer. They also organise overseas field trip in the UK and overseass. More information.

Cambridge Natural History Society

CNHS organise a series of talks (winter) and excursions (all year). Talks are usually held at the Attenborough Building next to the Zoology Museum. Visitors welcome (small charge) More information.

Courses at the Institute of Continuing Education of University of Cambridge

The ICE holds many interesting courses, at Madingley Hall near Cambridge, including some on geology, local landscape, evolution and archaeology e.g.  Extinctions: crises in the history of life  with Peter Sheldon

Free online courses

Future Learn has a number of short, online courses on geological and related subjects. These courses are free and very easy to follow. Ideal for introductions to many subjects. Courses include Extreme Geological Events, developed by Cardiff University, The Earth in my pocket: an introduction to geology and Extinctions Past and Present.

U3A Geology groups

There are a few local geology groups run by U3A: Cambridge    Peterborough

Other Talks

For details of many other talks and societies in the Cambridge area see the CONDUIT publication issued by the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. It gives contact details for the many organisations working to promote interest in history, particularly that of Cambridgeshire. The latest issue of CONDUIT can be downloaded from their website.


© Cambridgeshire Geological Society