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Newsletter of the Geological Society of Norfolk
Number 64, September 2005
President for 2005-6, Dr Peter Norton
General Secretary, Elvin Thurston, 32 Lenthall Close, Norwich, NR7 0UU
email: firstname.lastname@example.org. phone: 01603 708098
Treasurer, Paul Whittlesea, 8 Eaton Old Hall, Hurd Road, Eaton, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7BE,
email: email@example.com phone: 01603 452384
Bulletin Editor, Dr Julian Andrews, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, UEA, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Field Secretary, Peter Riches. email: email@example.com or P.F.Riches@rhul.ac.uk
Web Site Manager, Alister Cruickshanks, 10 Elliott Avenue, Reydon, Southwold, Suffolk, IP18 6QX email: Alister@ukfossils.info phone: 01502 724736
Other Committee Members (with special relevant interests) are
Adrian Read (database & RIGS),
Jonathan Lee (BGS/Quaternary),
Nigel Larkin, (Norfolk Museums Service).
& Steven Pawley (Pleistocene research).
2005 Field Meeting Programme
If you wish to attend the following Suffolk Naturalists’ trip just turn up, there is no need to inform the Field Secretary in advance.
8th October 10:30am Gipping Valley
Visit to see Chalk, Tertiary and Glacial deposits.
Special Notice from General Secretary
I am completely willing to inform individual members about the arrangements for field meetings organised by GSN if I know them. However members should note that they should request such information from the Field Secretary; he makes the arrangements and needs to know who would like to attend!
eet at Bramford picnic site car park (immediately south-west of the railway bridge), we shall drive on from there. Bramford is about 3 miles north-west of Ipswich. You may be required to sign an indemnity form in quarries and wear helmets and reflective jackets.
A very interesting QRA Annual Discussion Meeting on the subject of "The Palaeolithic Occupation of Europe"
was held at the British Museum on 5th and 6th January 2005. There were 150 participants. This was the maximum capacity of the lecture rooms so some late potential registrants were unable to come. The first paper by Chris Stringer set the scene; there is a growing tendency to recognise Neanderthal derived features in the Middle Pleistocene onwards, so Homo heidelbergensis needs to be reassessed.
Papers of East Anglian interest were :-
1) Richard Preece and Simon Parfitt stated that at the Pakefield site human artefacts found with vole remains of Mimomys savini may date from c 700,000 BP; therefore the short chronology (sensu Roebroeks et al) for the earliest human occupation of northern Europe is no longer tenable. Wil Roebroeks later that day, giving the 5th Annual John Wiley Lecture, confirmed as much.
2) The controversy of a pre-Anglian glaciation of East Anglia continues with the paper by Jim Rose on the aggradation of the Bytham River terraces. But R. Preece maintains that interglacial sites beneath the Happisburg till contain the evolved vole Arvicola at Sidestrand and Happisburgh as well as the ancestral vole Mimomys at Pakefield and West Runton. If the Happisburgh till dates from OIS 16, OIS 17 is too early for the transition of Mimomys to Avricola; from other European sites this is thought to have occurred in OIS 13 or at the earliest 15.
3) In the afternoon post-Anglian sites were considered. In our area Richard Preece presented findings from Beeches Pit, West Stow. Both molluscan and vertebrate faunas suggest correlation with the Hoxnian (=MIS 11). U series dating from tufa and TL dates from burnt flints suggest ca. 400 ka BP.
4) The following morning, 6th January, Danielle Schreeve dealt with the taphonomy of a Middle Devensian vertebrate assemblage from Lynford, Norfolk and its implications for Neanderthal subsistence.
Other interesting papers were a refinement of the racemization dating technique using the calcite opercula from fresh water gastropods ( Penkman et al). This would be possibly extendable to date the snails found at Norton Subcourse. (My comment).
Lectures in the 2005-6 Season
As usual most of our lectures will beheld in the Friends’ Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, just of St.Giles in Norwich at 7:30 pm on Thursday evenings
Thursday 20th October in the Assembly House (Kent Room), Dr Ian Bailey, UCL.
Late-Holocene solar and orbital forcing of North Atlantic Oscillation: highest resolution records of climate change from Diss Mere, UK
An ultra-high resolution investigation of mid- to late-Holocene climate change from biochemically varved lacustrine sediment in Diss Mere, UK, demonstrates that past change in summer and winter temperatures reflect variability in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Cross reference with other Holocene climate records demonstrates that following 4-kyr BP, climate in northern Europe was characterised by lower summer temperatures and enhanced winter temperatures/increased wetness (decreased seasonality) forming regional-scale teleconnections of opposite sign with circum-Atlantic landmasses. This change bears a striking resemblance to a modern positive NAO extreme and probably occurred as a threshold was crossed in increasing Holocene winter insolation. This change is also recognisable as a sharp transition in the character of the varve (determined from SEM-BSEI study). Accumulation rates calculated from varve thickness exhibit cycles comparable to variability in the instrumental and proxy records of the NAO (periods of 20, 7-8 and 4 years) with a shift at 4-kyr BP from interannual- to interdecadal-dominated variability. Late-Holocene seasonality cycles following the 4-kyr BP event vary in step with changes in solar variability (14C production). A high index state of the NAO, which we associate here with decreased seasonality, coincides with enhanced solar flux (14C minima) and a low index state of the NAO is coincident with decreased solar activity (14C maxima).
This lecture will be followed by the 2005 Annual General Meeting (postponed from March)
Thursday 10th November, Friends’ Meeting House, Professor Jim Rose, RHL,
Recent important discoveries about the Quaternary geology of Norfolk and adjacent regions – their global significance.
Norfolk has long contributed to the geology of Britain and indeed world geology with discoveries about the history and processes of glaciation, the composition and palaeoenvironmental significance of pre-glacial fauna and flora, and the development of a stratigraphic scheme for the Quaternary of Europe. With this track record and such enthusiastic and assiduous observation, recording, publication and debate it is not unreasonable to expect that there would be few new discoveries of major importance.
Quite remarkably within the last decade, mainly as a result of the work of members of the Geography Department at RHUL, the officers of the British Geological Survey, the members of the AHOB team and Tony Stuart and John Wymer, there have been a number of outstanding discoveries, some of which have been of such importance as to significantly change national and international scientific perceptions. The following topics will be outlined and their significance discussed:
The discovery of the presence of humans prior to the earliest glaciation in Britain. This provides new insight to the distribution of humans around the globe and their potential to respond to different climates.
Thurday 19th January, Friends’ Meeting House, Dr Jon Lee, BGS,
Complex patterns of environmental change during the Early and Middle Pleistocene at Pakefield, northern Suffolk.
This presentation outlines evidence from Pakefield (northern Suffolk) for multiple stages of sea-level change, river activity, soil development and glaciation during the late Early and early Middle Pleistocene (MIS 20-12). During this time period, northern Suffolk and adjoining areas of Norfolk consisted of a low-lying coastal plain and a shallow offshore shelf that was fed by major river systems including the Thames and Bytham. Changes in sea-level caused several major transgressive-regressive cycles across this low relief region, and these changes are reflected by the stratigraphic relationship between shallow marine (Wroxham Crag Formation), fluvial (Cromer Forest-bed and Bytham formations) and glacial (Happisburgh and Lowestoft formations) sediments. Two separate glaciations are recognised at Pakefield – the Happisburgh (MIS 16) and Anglian (MIS 12) glaciations, and these are separated by a high sea-level represented by a new member of the Wroxham Crag Formation, and several phases of river aggradation and incision. The story from Pakefield is placed into its regional palaeogeographic context, and the influence of the 100ka eccentricity cycle, the principal driving mechanism behind these palaeoenvironmental changes, is also discussed.
Thursday 23rd February, Friends’ Meeting House, Paul Whittlesea, GSN
Preservation media with magic
What is this lecture on the Chalk about? Essentially, we will be looking at a broad, largely unrelated set of new data or interpretations of old data that by themselves would mostly not warrant a lecture of their own. This is a bit like TV programs such as “Cash in the attic” or “Antiques Roadshow” where you never know in advance what you might find or learn! Hopefully, as with such programs, it will be the assortment and novelty that will prove entertaining and educational.
Thursday 23rd March, in the Assembly House,
Presidential Address by Dr P.E.P. Norton,
This lecture will be followed by the 2006 Annual General Meeting
We have already set up 4 lecturers for the 2006-7 season ! :-
Dr Peter Skelton, an expert on Carbonate Sedimentology, Evolutionary Palaeobiology, & Invertebrate Palaeontology
Dr Bob Spicer, an expert on Palaeobotany & Palaeoclimatology
Dr Mark Woods, an expert on the Chalk
Dr Becky Briant, the response of wetlands to climate changes.
Jones, A P., Tucker, M E., & Hart, J K (eds) 1999. The Description and Analysis of Quaternary Stratigraphic Field Sections. Technical Guide No 7, Quaternary Research Association. London. ISBN 0-907780-47-4 [£10.80]
Evans, D J A and Benn, D I (eds) 2004. A Practical Guide to the Study of Glacial Sediments. Arnold. London. ISBN 0-340-75959-3 [£19.99]
Both these books offer guidelines and recommendations to those wishing to undertake research on Quaternary sediments. How much use are they likely to be to amateurs?
The first three chapters in Jones, Tucker & Hart and the first seven chapters of Evans & Benn, deal fairly briefly with topics such as facies, stratigraphy, and the characteristics of sediments – which seems curious, given the ready availability of texts devoted solely to these topics. One might have expected their target audience – students and researchers – to be familiar with this sort of thing already.
Basic field techniques such as graphic logging are covered adequately, Evans & Benn devoting more time to them basics than Jones et al – who clearly assume a higher level of pre-existing knowledge; accordingly some of their text consists of little more than numbered checklists of what to do. Evans & Benn offer better value for the complete beginner, but even they do not always cover topics adequately. I defy anyone to determine the dip of a clast a-axis using their photograph (Fig. 5.5), which shows a compass perched on top of a clast, rather than being clearly aligned parallel to any planar surface. (The Geological Society of London handbook series, including Basic Geological Mapping, by Barnes (1981), and The Field Description of Sedimentary Rocks, by Tucker (1982), even though not aimed specifically at Quaternary sediments, cover many of these basic techniques equally well.)
Evans & Benn cover a number of advanced topics that are not mentioned in Jones Tucker & Hart, such as geochemical techniques, environmental magnetism and engineering properties. These chapters certainly help to raise awareness of the potential usefulness of the techniques, but would not be of much practical use in actually trying to use the instruments involved. Extensive further reading of the references provided would be required; but, in any case, access to such specialised equipment is unlikely to be available to amateurs. Rather than having spent so long covering basic sedimentology and stratigraphy, it might have been more useful to explain some advanced topics, such as the use of stereo nets and eigenvalues, in more detail.
Jones, Tucker & Hart, having dealt with the basics in a preliminary section, then illustrate these by reference to a series of detailed case studies. Evans & Benn also illustrate principles by reference to case studies, although these are integrated into the text. In both cases extensive use is made of photographs and diagrams; these are generally of good quality. Evans & Benn, however, also have a useful section of colour photographs illustrating structures, textures etc. at the back of the book.
Both these books are about the same length – so, which represents the ‘Best Buy’? Evans & Benn deal in more detail with the basics of sedimentology, and explain the basic techniques in rather more detail. They also introduce topics that, although unlikely to be available to an amateur geologist, would at least enable them to read professional papers with a greater level of understanding. On the other hand, Jones Tucker and Hart do have some nice case studies, one of which is based on Happisburgh. The opportunity to go out, book in hand, and see what the professionals have made of it, is very useful! And, at half the price, it leaves one with more petrol in the tank, to go out and do fieldwork.
For a real beginner I would say than Evans & Benn represents the best buy; for someone a bit further along the road, Jones et al might prove more stimulating.
Barnes JW. 1981. Basic Geological Mapping. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Tucker M. 1982. The Field description of Sedimentary Rocks. Chichester: John Wiley.
Accessing information about the Castle Museum’s Geology Collection on-line:
Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service is developing its website and getting its collections online. But the collections are large and we are using external funding where we can.
With the help of the Designation Challenge Fund (available only for pre-eminent collections) we are employing Ann Ainsworth for 18 months to catalogue the geology collection. Much of the collection – dating to the early 19th century - has never been properly documented, so it is quite an undertaking. Of the many tens of thousands of specimens we are making the Pleistocene vertebrates, Norfolk Chalk and all the type and figured specimens our top priority
The objective is to number every specimen and create a database of them all. Then we can locate specimens by any search key – finder, donor, find location, find date, species, genera, phylum, age etc. This often requires identification – or re-identification – where possible, and taking photographs of more interesting and unusual specimens and carrying our conservation treatments as we go.
We are getting on well and the results so far are already available on the Internet. Of the fossils you can view the type and figured specimens and some of the Pleistocene vertebrates and thanks to Martin Stolworthy you can also view the mineral collection. If you are interested in assisting us with the documentation work in a voluntary capacity, please do get in contact with us. There are many interesting areas of the collection still to be documented.
If you would like to consult the actual specimens in the geology collections, please contact Nigel Larkin in the usual manner - details are below.
How to access the collections database on-line:
Go to our NMAS Home Page: http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/
You have two choices now. You can search the database directly or link from web pages with lists of useful terms – species, localities and so on. Lets deal with browsing the term lists first
In the dark blue navigation bar on the left side of the Home page, select "Collections" and click. Now select "Geology collections" and this takes you to a page that tells you a little about the geology collection of the Norwich Castle. You can choose again from the blue column to look at “Minerals”, “Fossils”, or “Amber”. Click on “Fossils”, for example, then either “Type and figured specimens”, or “List of Fossils”, and this brings up a list of specimens.
Scrolling down the list you will notice that these records are arranged in taxonomic groups. The accession numbers will react when you hover over them – indicating that they are links. If you click on these entries you jump to the full record in the MODES Database. Use your browser Back button to return to the list. The full records for the mineral specimens are not yet linked in this way because at the time of writing they are still being worked on.
The second method is to go to “Search the Museum collections”. To do this, click on the link on the right saying “Search Norfolk Museums collections”
Choose from the list of collections to search "NORWICH CASTLE Geology – fossils, minerals, rocks (7,000)" and click "GO".
The next page asks you to choose and index from “Who”, “Where”, “What” and “When”. You can also select an “Accession number” index (if you happen to know the precise number you want). Highlight one of the options (e.g. "Where") and type in the second box something appropriate like "Sidestrand", and hit the return key. Now the database returns all he terms that begin with ‘Sidestrand’. Choose any or all of these and click on “Go”. This brings up a Summary page telling you that you now have a list of over 50 specimens.
You have a choice of viewing this list “Show hits”, “Search within results” it to make the list smaller or “Start a new search”. To view the list, click on “Show Hits” and it will show small sections of text and pictures of the first half dozen.
You can jump to the next six specimens by clicking on the small grey box with the forwarding arrows near the top right of the page. You should be able to return to previous pages by clicking on your browsers back button etc.
You can choose to see any of the full records by clicking on the picture or on the underlined link. This will show you a full individual record.
You have options at the bottom of the page for either refining this search (click on "Search within results") or “Starting a new search. If you do this, you'll be taken back to a familiar options page asking again: Who, Where, What, When.
If you simply type in "ele" for instance, this will give you the various options of elephant, elephantidae etc and this will produce for you a smaller number of results. I think that you can continue to refine your searches as many times as you like.
As submitted this article included coloured pictures illustrating the display on the monitor at various stages; unfortunately reproducing pictures, especially coloured ones, is an expensive option for this newsletter. I hope their absence presents you with no insurmountable difficulties. Ed.
I hope that this is of use and of interest to you. Comments, queries, suggestions and offers of assistance with the project should be directed to Nigel Larkin:
Telephone 01603 493645 or 01362 860915, fax: 01603 493623
Curator of Geology, The Natural History Department,
Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service,
Norwich Castle Study Centre, Shirehall,
Market Avenue, Norwich, Norfolk. NR1 3JQ.
A Norfolk Geologist at Large
This summer I have had two weeks walking in West Sussex and Devon in perfect weather. On east Dartmoor there is an area where granite “of the best quality” was mined. Looking at a quarry face I concluded that this might be because large masses were free of fissures. There was no intention to do any geology (after all, in Norfolk we only have granite at depth!) but I couldn’t help noticing the granite tors and the differences between them. In the area of “best quality” granite the tors were taller and less tumbled. So, assuming that Pleistocene freeze-thaw mechanisms were responsible for the tumbling, there seems to be consistency with the hypothesis of comparative lack of fissures in this area. The tallest untumbled tor near the quarry seemed to be Haytor, at least ca. 20m high, and I got to wondering just how long it took for it to form. Since the accepted mechanism of tor formation is comparatively rapid dissolution of the feldspar by very high CO2 concentration in the surrounding soils, while the outstanding tor is only susceptible to the low concentration of aerial CO2, that must have taken a very long time. Similar dissolution of limestone on the Pennines is about 4-5 cm per kyr so the dissolution of granite is probably slower than that. Assuming something like 1cm per kyr for granite during a temperate climate puts the age of Haytor at a minimum of 2 Ma. But the age of tors must be greater than this for 2 reasons; the model assumes no sub-aerial erosion at all, and a very high proportion of that time has been during cold periods when the reaction rate would have been severely limited. I would love to have taken samples and buried them in different soils to measure their weight loss over time using a very sensitive balance, but it isn’t a practical idea!
Does anyone know of any relevant research, e.g. the rate of conversion of feldspars at high partial pressures of CO2 that would be applicable to soils?
New temporary geology displays at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, and a new permanent geology gallery for Cromer Museum.
Over the last year we have been installing a new geology gallery in Norwich Castle. This will only be a temporary exhibition but it should stay in place until at least sometime in 2007. It reflects the different environments that Norfolk has experienced, describes the relevant deposits that underlie the landscape and showcases the sorts of fossils that can be found. As part of this project Nick Arber, who in 1984 painted the famous and well-loved six-foot-long landscapes of Norfolk during the Cromerian period and Norfolk during the Devensian (featuring an iconic image of a woolly mammoth), was commissioned to paint two new Norfolk landscapes to “complete the set” – the Crag and the Chalk-forming environments. Liasing with relevant experts, he has painted these new landscapes the same size and in the same style as the original two, so that all four line the geology gallery above their relevant display cases. Other aspects of the geology collection are highlighted in this display such as beautiful crystals and minerals from around the world that are not native to the county.
Anyone interested in seeing the fossils found at Norton Subcourse over the last few years will have ample opportunity this autumn. The material - remains of pond tortoise, horse, giant hippo, mammoth and hyena coprolites – will be on display in the geology gallery of the Norwich Castle Museum from the end of September 2005 until the New Year. This site was excavated in late 2004 by a team co-ordinated by members of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project after a series of smaller research and rescue excavations were undertaken as a result of discoveries made by a well known member of the GSN. After its showing in Norwich, this small display will travel to Cambridge University Zoological Museum and from there to other locations in East Anglia over the next year or so. We will keep you informed of the dates and venues.
Cromer Museum has been closed for much of the last year during its refurbishment, but when it opens in early 2006 it will house a much larger geology gallery with updated displays and information including some of the West Runton Elephant material.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that in 2006 Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery will host an exhibition called “Art At The Rockface” curated by myself and Andrew Moore, our Senior Curator of Art. Our aim is to demonstrate mankind’s personal interaction with the immediate landscape. For millennia all around the world we have knapped, chipped and sculpted stone, melted down ores to combine them and ground down rocks for pigments to be used on all sorts of surfaces from cave walls to canvases. In almost every culture aesthetics has been held in at least as high regard as functionality, and artists of all kinds still respond to rocks, cliffs and landscapes today. Artworks from around the world that we will have on loan for this show include work by Cezanne, Turner, Leonardo Da Vinci, Magritte, Hockney, Ruskin, Lear, Durer, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Richard Long. In addition to this will be a variety of glamorous decorative arts objects, classical sculptures, ancient Egyptian carving and more enigmatic pieces from the Neolithic and Mesolithic periods. Geological specimens will be exhibited alongside many of these works of art to help place the artistic processes in a more enlightening context.
This exhibition will run from May 27th 2006 until the end of August, after which it will be on show in Sheffield Galleries for three months. It will be an opportunity for a variety of events and public lectures. In conjunction with this the GSN is sponsoring a lecture on 10th or 17th of June on Human Evolution by Professor Chris Stringer, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who is Head of the Human Origins Divison at the Natural History Museum, London, the Director of the Leverhulme-funded Ancient Hominid Occupation of Britain Project, & the leading proponent of the "Out of Africa" theory. Details of all these events will appear in this newsletter nearer the time.
Nigel Larkin, Curator of Geology, Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.
As pointed out in previous Newsletters, the Committee of the GSN foresees changes for the GSN. During the last year or two we have concentrated on keeping up with the developments in Earth Science particularly with reference to East Anglia. This cannot go on forever if only because the current wave of active research in this area will fade.
There are a lot more things the GSN could do.
- an active and geologising membership that does more than listen to
the wisdom of experts, and engages in local geological opportunities.
- younger people to take on existing tasks and start new ones.
- publicity, making sure our activities are circulated to cognate
bodies such as universities, 6th form colleges, museums etc.
- recruitment, including 'likely' professionals and young aspirants..
- on our committee we have too few officers and each of them are carrying too much load.
IF ANY OF THESE INTEREST YOU PLEASE CONTACT A COMMITTEE MEMBER
HIGH QUALITY RUSSIAN ZENIT
МБС-9 STEREOSCOPIC [BINOCULAR] MICROSCOPE
This instrument has 4 pairs of eyepieces: 6x, 8x, 12x & 14x, 5 turret objectives: 0.6, 1, 2, 4 & 7x, giving a range of magnification from 3.6x to 98x. One 8x eyepiece also takes a graticule, (square grid or divided line). The eye-tubes are angled at 45 degrees, have detachable eye rests and the interpupiliary distance is adjustable. The body is post mounted, height adjustable, on a detachable stage. The stage is mounted on a sub-stage that contains mirroirs and fittings for use when viewing specimens with transmitted light. The stage was a black/white reversible contrast plate, or a clear/frosted glass plate for viewing specimens by transmitted light. (There is slight but obvious wear to the paint on the stage near the specimen clips.) The microscope comes with a separate transformer for use with a light that may either be held above the stage for viewing specimens by reflected light or inserted into the base to provide a light source for transmitted light viewing. (Two spare bulbs are supplied.) The microscope comes with detachable accessory armrests that may optionally be placed in 4 positions for comfort during prolonged use. Digital photographs may be taken through one of the eyepieces for subsequent downloading onto a computer and manipulating, etc. The microscope has a strong wooden box for storage and protection during travel.
Offers in the region of £600 are invited for this instrument; a generous discount is available to members of the GSN, SNS, NNNS or NMLS.
Prospective buyers are invited to view the instrument and satisfy themselves that it meets their requirements, (please make an appointment first). Payment should be by cheque supported by a cheque card (with proof of residence for non-GSN members), or in cash. Please contact Paul Whittlesea to book an appointment, phone: (Norwich) 01603 452384, (most hours). The purchaser will be expected to take the instrument away with them after payment.
East Herts Geology Club Annual Charity Lecture
Feathered Dragons Fuzzy and Flying Dinosaurs from China
By Dr. Paul Barrett Natural History Museum
Thursday 3rd November 2005 @ 1930
Christchurch Centre, New Road, Ware, Hertfordshire
Tickets £5 (non-members)
Numbers limited so first come first served
Order by post (including SAE and cheque payable to East Herts Geology Club) from
81 Bengeo Street
e-mail enquires to:-firstname.lastname@example.org
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