Monthly CGS talks in Cambridge

We have a programme of 10 talks running from September to June, 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 2020 – June 2021 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 11th January 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

Remote Monitoring of an Urban Mud Volcano’

Dr Andrew Hart, Chief Engineering Geomorphologist at Atkins

‘On 29 May 2006, a mud volcano erupted in the Sidoarjo regency of East Java, Indonesia.  Unlike other mud volcanoes, this one has been erupting almost continuously since then, burying villages, factories and farmland to now cover an area of almost six square kilometres. Atkins has been monitoring and assessing these risks since early 2007.  This work has included using a combination of remote sensing techniques to map and monitor the growth of the mud volcano as well as ground surface movements and deformation around the mud volcano area.  To date, the remote sensing work has shown that while the flow of mud from the crater area is now being constrained by the earth embankments surrounding the mud volcano, the ground movements are effecting a much larger area, and are potentially also being heavily influenced by anthropogenic factors.  This presentation will provide an overview of the ongoing eruption and how it has developed since 2006.  It will also highlight how the use of remote sensing mapping techniques has allowed for the risks posed by the eruption to be monitored over an extended period of time in an innovative but cost-effective manner, as well as the importance of field verification in such work.’

Dr Andrew Hart is a Chief Engineering Geomorphologist working for Atkins, where is also the Discipline Lead for Engineering Geomorphology, Geohazards and Ground Modelling.  Andrew has over 23 years of experience assessing the impacts of Geohazards and other geo-engineering constraints while working on a wide variety of infrastructure projects.  This has included O&G pipelines and facilities, iron ore railways, highways and mountain roads and offshore wind farms, as well as Geohazard Assessment and Disaster Risk Reduction projects.  This means that Andrew has been lucky enough to work in many interesting parts of the world, with a wide range of client organisations and project teams.

Monday 8th February 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

‘The Evolution of the Iceland Plume

Prof Nicky White Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

The mantle plume beneath Iceland is highly unusual: instead of the typical dome-shape at its top it has a number of fingers that stretch as far away as Scotland and Norway, over 1000 km away. The talk will explore the reasons for the existence of these fingers and also the influence they have on the geography of Scotland and Norway.

Monday 8th March 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

‘A word on the Anthropocene

Prof Philip Gibbard Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Since human activity has undoubtedly left its mark on Planet Earth, especially since the Industrial Revolution, it has been proposed that a new epoch should be added to the currently accepted geological timeline: the Anthropocene. To justify the introduction of this new epoch, a global signature marked by biotic, sedimentary and geochemical change would need to be found, which would show the Anthropocene to be distinctly different from the Holocene. This talk will examine what evidence for the Anthropocene has so far been put forward, and will ask the question whether it is at all possible to identify a specific point in time as the beginning of the Anthropocene.

Phil was awarded the Digby McClaren medal at the International Commission on Stratigraphy’s STRATI 2019 Congress in Milano, Italy on 4 July 2019. The Digby McLaren Medal is awarded to honour a significant body of internationally important contributions to stratigraphy sustained over a number of years. Hear his thoughts on the Anthropocene and its place in our consideration of stratigraphy.

Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group (QPG) » Phil Gibbard

Monday 12th April 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

‘The First Day of the Cenozoic: Insights from the Chicxulub Crater

Dr Auriol Rae, Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

66 Million years ago, a 14 km-diameter meteoroid struck the the Earth at approximately 20 km/s. This event had a profound influence on the history of life on Earth, and produced the 200 km-diameter Chicxulub Crater, located in present-day Mexico. This talk will look at the geological, climatological, and biological consequences of the K-Pg impact, with particular insight from IODP drilling of the crater in 2016. Furthermore, the wider significance of impact crater formation as a planetary geological process will be discussed.

Monday 10th May 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

‘Geological mapping of the core-mantle boundary: Unravelling the mysteries of the deep Earth

Dr Sanne Cottaar, Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

The boundary between the core and the mantle, nearly 3000 km deep, is a strikingly geologically heterogeneous zone. This talk will show how we use seismic core-diffracted phases to map out the most anomalous zones discovered to date, and named ‘Ultra-Low Velocity Zones or ULVZs. The ULVZs discovered are near major hotspots (Hawaii, Iceland, Galapagos) and thus might represent the roots of whole mantle plumes feeding the surface hotspots.

Monday 14th June 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

‘Île De La Réunion: Pitons, Cirques, Ramparts and Volcanoes

Steve Thompson

Île De La Réunion sits atop its very own, Indian Ocean, Hot Spot, being the top of two massive mid-ocean volcanoes, the dormant Piton des Neiges and the very active Piton de la Fournaise. Piton des Neiges has undergone caldera creation and subsequent collapse and, aided by the wet tropical climate, severe erosion, to produce a stunning topography of Pitons (Peaks), Cirques (steep basins), and Ramparts (near vertical crater walls). Le Parc National de la Réunion, which encompasses both volcanoes and covers 42% of the island, was elevated to World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 2010.

Photo: Source: Serge et Franc Gélabert. ‘Terre D’ Émotions’. ISBN: 978-2-918209-17-5

Monday 28th June 2021 7.30pm

(by Zoom – please register by contacting us)

‘Arabian Adventures: geological mapping in the United Arab Emirates

Dr Andrew Farrant, British Geological Survey

Between 2006 and 2012, the British Geological Survey was tasked with creating new geological maps and other geological datasets for the United Arab Emirates. This talk will provide an overview of the geology of the UAE, its geohazards and discuss some of the subsequent 3D modelling work around Abu Dhabi.




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