The Society meets in the Finchley Baptist Church Hall, No. 1, Stanhope Avenue, (off East End Road) Finchley, London. N3 3LX every 2nd Tuesday of the month.

This is almost opposite Avenue House/Stephens House. There is limited parking at the Hall but lots of free parking in East End Road.  It is less than 10 minutes from Finchley Central Station Northern Line with lots of buses travelling down Ballards Lane. A nice, warm, bright hall with a kitchen serving area.

7.30pm for 8.00pm start.  Enquires: 020 8346 1056 Julia Daniels, General Secretary.

Go to the ‘Find Us for a map and more information….

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it has been decided that AGS Tuesday evening talks will continue to be presented as ‘ZOOM’ meetings until April 2022.  Thereafter we hope to resume face to face lectures in the Baptist Church.  Covid permitting of course.  Please see revised list of talks below…

In the tradition of our Tuesday evening meetings, tea and coffee will be served after each talk, if you make it yourself………


Tuesday January 11th 2022

‘Charles Moor, a Somerset geologist and his collection’

A Zoom presentation

Dr. Chris Duffin – Natural History Museum.

Dr. Chris Duffin – is a Scientific Associate in the Earth Science Department at The Natural History Museum London.  Originally qualifying as a geologist, he has Ph.D. degrees in Vertebrate Palaeontology from University College London, and the History of Medicine from Kingston University.

Charles Moore, Bath Geologist (1814-1881)

This talk gives an overview of this gentleman geologist, based in Victorian Bath.  He was a remarkably astute collector who cut his geological teeth on the Middle Lias beds around Ilminster.  Here he made important collections of ichthyosaur, crocodile, fish and insect fossils from the Strawberry Bank Conservation Lagerstätte. After marrying well, Moore moved from Ilminster to Bath where he became an important member of both the Bath Naturalists’ Field Club and the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.  He collected widely, pioneered bulk processing of sediment in his search for fossils; his enormous private collection was obtained by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution and has a chequered history ever since. Moore is probably best known for finding some of the earliest mammals in the Late Triassic fissure deposits at Holwell near Frome.  He recognised the presence of the latest Triassic Rhaetian stage in Britain. Although not publishing much during his lifetime, his fossil collection still provides important material for research.

Tuesday February 8th 2022

A Zoom evening for AGS members

AGM and Members quiz!

Tuesday March 8th 2022

A Zoom presentation 

Ian Mercer – Essex Rock & Mineral Society.

“Crystals and Crystalline Material”  Mineral collectors, designers, photographers and many others enjoy the delights of crystals and the variety and beauty of crystal form. Yet materials may be crystalline inside and have no visible external crystal form. A deeper delight and appreciation of materials starts with having some idea of what is meant by the words crystalline and crystallinity. For any material to be considered as crystalline, it has to be made up of atoms arranged with some degree of orderliness. It need not display any external crystal form. It may indeed be a pebble or a fashioned gem, with all external crystal evidence removed: cut, ground or worn away. It is still crystalline inside: nothing has changed there. The real internal orderly arrangement of atoms in each different crystalline material is referred to as its crystal structure

Tuesday April 12th 2022

A Zoom presentation 

Alan Clewlow

 “Volcanic Experiences in Iceland”

Tuesday May 10th 2022

FIRST FACE TO FACE MEETING!!  at The Baptist Church, East End Road, Finchley.

‘Greenland: bits of rock and a lot of ice’

Dr. Tony Waltham 

Greenland has a mountainous perimeter consisting of very old rocks as well as young volcanic features related to its Atlantic neighbour of Iceland. Both the early geological mapping and the recent developments for mineral resources have produced great stories of geological exploration. In addition, the splendour of Greenland’s magnificent landscapes is enhanced by its Inland Ice – the huge ice cap that fills the basin inside the coastal ring of mountains and feeds icebergs out into the North Atlantic from many spectacular and beautiful glaciers.

Image 15-01-2022 at 12.40

Tuesday June 14th 2022

Face to Face meeting.  TBA

Tuesday July 12th 2022

Face to Face meeting.  TBA

Tuesday August 9th 2022

Face to Face meeting.  TBA

Tuesday September 13th 2022

Face to Face meeting.  TBA

Tuesday October 11th 2022

Face to Face meeting.

Dr. Tony Waltham  – “Greenland”

Tuesday November 8th 2022

Frank Stokes Memorial Lecture

Face to Face meeting

Barry Hunt IBIs Ltd.  – “Rock Thin Sections”

Tuesday December 13th 2022

Face to Face meeting.  TBA

PAST LECTURES – Going back to 2016

These past lectures show the vast variety of topics and quality of the speakers that the AGS are fortunate to have at our Tuesday evening meetings……….

Tuesday 12th January 2021

‘Palaeontological  highlights of the Teyler Museum Haarlem, Netherlands.’

 A Zoom presentation  

Mike Howgate MSc FLS     Chairman of the AGS

The Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands, was founded by a cloth merchant and banker of Scottish descent in 1778.  It contains amongst other things a superb, if eclectic, collection of fossils, including the original ‘Homo diluviae testis’ – the remains of a sinner drowned in the Flood of Noah as described by Johann Jacob Scheuchzer in 1726.  This and many other fossils from the collection will be described in detail by our chairman, Mike Howgate.

Tuesday 9th February  2021

‘William Smiths Fossils’  

A Zoom presentation 

Diana Clements from the Natural History Museum

“William Smith’s famous map, published in 1815, will be familiar to many of you; it was the first geological map of a nation. In this talk we will explore how it was the fossils that William Smith collected that enabled him to place the geology so accurately. We will then trace what has happened to the fossils subsequently and how they ended up in the Natural History Museum where I was invited to help curate, photograph and describe them.”

Tuesday 9th March 2021

‘Granite Tors of Dartmoor’

A Zoom presentation 

Stephen Krause AGS

“Tors or rock outcrops on Dartmoor and their formation have been talking points for years.  Over lockdown I have studied pictures and papers to take a fresh look at them and give a fresh evaluation of their form, locations and possible formation from afar.  I hope the illustrated talk will open up a new interest in the subject.”

Tuesday 13th April 2021

‘Hertfordshire Puddingstone, Querns and the Great Gaddesden Project’.

A Zoom presentation

Chris Green – Royal Holloway University

Chris’s biography:  ‘I have now retired from Directing St Albans’ Museums for 10 years, and spend my declining years in investigating querns, hones, and any other understudied item made of rock. I also ‘do’ historical farm tools and foraminifera (marine protozoans). All this adds up to saying that I try to cover areas which others don’t touch. I am not a geologist by training, but am better known as an archaeolologist, and my degree was in modern Social History”.

“Following about 13 years of intermittent investigation, and records of 700+ Roman Hertfordshire Puddingstone querns, we think we have found a site which can claim to have been a major quarry source at Great Gaddesden, NW of Hemel Hempstead.  Here the chalk has been heavily dissolved to form many dolines – cones or collapses above a solution feature (such as a chalk pipe), and we believe that the puddingstone, which probably crops out at one level of the overlying Upnor Formation, has simply fallen to the bottom of the dolines in the 200,000 years of their existence.  A  concretion weighing a ton, like one found in the landowner’s vegetable patch, would only have to fall in every 25, or 50,000 years to make it all worthwhile.  There is plenty of evidence of Roman production, but work continues when it dries up!”

Tuesday 11th May 2021

‘William Buckland, The First Professor of Geology’.

A Zoom presentation 

Dr. Chris Duffin – is a Scientific Associate in the Earth Science Department at The Natural History Museum London.  Originally qualifying as a geologist, he has Ph.D. degrees in Vertebrate Palaeontology from University College London, and the History of Medicine from Kingston University.

“Devon born William Buckland (1784-1846) was made Professor at Oxford in 1819. An inspiring though somewhat unorthodox teacher, he pioneered many aspects of palaeontology during one of the most interesting periods of its development – the decades in the early 1800’s. He described dinosaurs and marine reptiles, reconstructed fossil communities (including Hyaena dens from cave deposits), undertook experimental taphonomy by encouraging his pet tortoise to walk across pastry (to elucidate fossil footprints), and was the first to describe fossil faeces. A larger than life character, he was famed for a rather coarse sense of humour, experimental cookery and an innovative turn of mind. Whilst Dean of Westminster he effectively invented modern sewerage systems.”

Tuesday 8th June 2021

‘Strange Bedfellows, the Role of Gypsum in the evolution of the Biosphere’

A Zoom presentation

Professor Graham Shields is Professor of (chemical) geology at UCL and works on the chemical evolution of the oceans and atmosphere, in particular the co-evolution of life and the environment from the Snowball Earth ice ages through to the Cambrian explosion.  

Graham’s fieldwork is mostly carried out in China but recently he has become interested in the role that evaporites play in key events like mass extinctions, biological radiations and climate change and it is on those subjects that his talk will be based.

Tuesday 13th July 2021

‘Very Early Life and the Accident of Us’

A  Zoom presentation

Ros Mercer FGS is a qualified geologist and secretary of the Essex Rock & Mineral Society.

“In this talk we will discuss what is life, the fundamentals of plants and animals and look at the origin of life on Earth – early ideas and the current theory.  We will examine primitive life and the evidence in the rocks of the earliest life and outline the making energy for life and how this is done in single celled life.  We will also look at the eukaryotic cell and the development of multicellular life.  We will then look at the development of life on Earth and the explosion of life shown in the Ediacaran fauna, and leave you to ponder the future of life as we know it.”


Tuesday 10th August 2021

AGS Members Evening.    No ‘Golden Egg’ competition this year.

Two half-hour talks by members:

The first is by Stephen Krause and is titled “A Quick Look At Jersey’s Geology”. Sadly had to be abandoned due to technical problems.

The alternative talk was by Mike Howgate and titled “The Holy Stone of Arkesden“.

The second talk was by Richard Furminger and titled “Belemnites“.


Tuesday 14th September 2021

‘The Lost Planets’

A Zoom presentation

Prof. Hilary Downes graduated from Durham University and then spent 2 years in Canada, doing an MSc. She came back to the UK to do a PhD at Leeds University studying one of the extinct volcanoes of the French Massif Central. After a brief stay at Edinburgh University, studying mantle peridotite xenoliths, she was appointed at Birkbeck College, University of London where she has been for more than 30 years, teaching and doing research on terrestrial rocks. She developed an interest in the mantle of other planets, and spent some time working on meteorites at Johnson Space Centre in Houston Texas.

Her talk is based on some of that work and will discuss the interpretation of meteorites that have been derived from broken-up differentiated asteroids. Hilary hopes to convince the participants of the talk that the Solar System started with far more “baby planets” than the eight that are seen today. 

Tuesday October 12th 2021 

‘A history of the Fossil Fish Department at the Natural History Museum’

A Zoom presentation

Emma Louise Bernard BSC (Hons) MSc, MSc. is the Curator of the Fossil Fish Section in the Natural History Museum’s Department of Earth Science. She has 15 years’ experience working in UK regional and national museums and has been at the NHMUK for 10 years.

She graduated from the University of Glasgow with an Earth Science degree, and it was here that she got her first experience of working with museum collections, by completing a research project on dinosaur footprints from Skye, using collections housed at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. It was then that she decided she wanted to embark on a career in museums. She went on to do a Master’s degree in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol, where she also volunteered with Bristol Museum and another Masters in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Prior to starting work at the NHMUK, Emma was the Assistant Curator of Biology at the Yorkshire Museum. 

Emma regularly leads and participates in several outreach events for the Natural History Museum each year; something which she is passionate about and was a lead participant in the Earth Science Department’s first major digitisation programme, eMesozoic. Emma has lead fieldtrips within the United Kingdom and participated in collection enhancing fieldwork in Europe, Africa and was part of the Mission Jurassic team to North America. With a strong background in collection management, she has lectured graduate classes in the United Kingdom and North America. From a research perspective, she is developing an expertise in fossil sharks, the micro vertebrate fauna of the British Jurassic and techniques to unlock hidden information in collections.  

You can follow her on Twitter: @NHM_FossilFish

Links to some online resources:
– Fossil Fish Collections at the Natural History Museum: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/collections/palaeontology-collections/fossil-fish-collection.html
– Arthur Smith Woodward’s fossil fish type specimens: https://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/430/1/87
– Megalodon – https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/megalodon–the-truth-about-the-largest-shark-that-ever-lived.html and a Nature Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3GLQgj4FBc
– Nature Live Extreme Sharks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz6veiCdRW8
– Shark Evolution: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/shark-evolution-a-450-million-year-timeline.html
– BBC Inside Out programme on Mary Anning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJ-aa5IyfcQ


“A history of the fossil fish collections at the Natural History Museum”

It has been said by many academic visitors and staff at the Natural History Museum, London (NHMUK), that the fossil fish collection is one of the best in the world.

The collection contains approximately 100,000 specimens, of which over 5000 are type and figured and has been amassed from all corners of the globe spanning approximately 450 million years with a broad taxonomic scope.

Between 1836 to 1884 the Museum acquired thirty-eight major collections containing fossil fish. Two of the most important fossil fish collections were purchased by the Museum in the 1880’s; William Willoughby Cole, the 3rd Earl of Enniskillen and Sir Philip de Malpas Grey Egerton.

In 1882 Sir Arthur Smith Woodward joined the Museum and recognised the significance of the Fossil Fish Collection and almost immediately devoted all of his time and efforts into the study of fossil fish, culminating in the four-part Catalogue of the Fossil Fishes in the British Museum (Natural History) published between 1989 and 1901. Woodward went onto describe nearly 320 type specimens, the majority held in the NHMUK. Over the next 115 years the collections have expanded considerably through donations; collection enhancing expeditions and developing techniques to prepare fossils, such as the acid transfer technique.

The collections are still heavily used by researchers from around the world today and we are actively adding to the collection. Current curatorial projects involve digitising and the enhancement of associated data of some of these historical collections.

The talk will cover some of the key acquisitions to the collection and the work of those associated with it over the last 200 years.


Tuesday November 9th 2021 

Frank Stokes Memorial Lecture

‘Portland Stone’

A Zoom presentation 

Barry J. Hunt – IBIS Ltd.

Barry Hunt is chartered as a geologist, surveyor, scientist and builder. He has been awarded the designation of European Geologist. Barry is also a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. He has been a member of a number of professional committees and has published numerous papers and articles concerning some of the findings of his many investigations.  In 2001 he formed his own company, IBIS, specialising in the investigation of all construction materials. The specialist knowledge obtained and services provided have allowed him to be instrumental in the resolution of problems ranging from blast damaged claddings in London’s West End to advice on the quarrying and extraction of stone from abroad for import to the UK. 

Barry is probably one of the most experienced building surveyors in the UK when it comes to both historic and modern façades. He regularly undertakes condition surveys for major buildings, and regularly looks after the fabric of the Bank of England which has a number of unusual challenges.  He strongly believes that close hands-on surveying is the only way to survey natural stone façades to fully understand the issues that may be present.  As well as writing many articles for publication he also believes it is important to spread the findings of his many investigations. He has given many different talks on different aspects of the work he has carried out, often trying to raise awareness of critical issues such as maintaining the safety of natural stone in construction. Barry has also been both a mentor and scrutineer for the Geological Society to assist younger geologists into the professional sphere.

Portland Stone is possibly the most famous masonry building stone in the world, doing for ashlar what Carrara marble does for cladding and Penrhyn for roofing slate.  I have investigated the properties of Portland stone, surveyed many buildings, and looked at the history of Portland stone use, and it is an ordinary material that occupies an extraordinary place in the history of UK architecture.  Many of our historic buildings still stand as a testament to its properties.  I will take you through my journey of learning about Portland stone and why it might just be the perfect material for masonry.  I will explain the stone’s properties with reference to the British Museum when Portland was substituted for an alternative material, which became a national bone of contention.  And there are one or two occasions when the stone has tried to kill me, but this is very much forgiven.

Tuesday December 14th 2021

‘The Geology of Cornwall’

A  Zoom presentation

Ros and Ian Mercer

Ros Mercer FGS is a qualified geologist and secretary of the Essex Rock & Mineral Society.

The Geology of Cornwall is unlike any other area of the British Isles. The juggernaut of Gondwanaland crashed into Laurasia, rucking up both the sediments and the ocean floor and mantle in between as Cornubia slid north westwards. What a pile-up to untangle and make sense of!  These events resulted in granite intrusions eroded into fascinating landforms and an associated wealth of minerals that have been exploited and collected for hundreds of years.


Tuesday March 10th 2020 

Flint – Origins of a Vital Substance by Ros Mercer FGS. and Essex Rock & Mineral Society.

Here in the south east of Britain we are so familiar with flint that we hardly give it a second thought. When we do, we are mystified about the origins of such a tough substance being found within the very soft chalk.

Flint is a sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, a variety of chert that occurs in the Upper Cretaceous Chalk. Flint was widely used historically to make stone tools and start fires. It occurs chiefly as nodules within Chalk and as countless pebbles that have been deposited and recycled many times since the Cretaceous.

The talk will include discussion of the nature and formation of Flint and its uses both in the past and at the present day.

Tuesday February  11th 2020 –  AGM and Party!!

The Amateur Geological Society’s Annual General Meeting followed by our annual party with food, drink and a free raffle for a 20cm Mioplosus fossil fish!


The fossil fish was won by our Treasurer Dudley Miles!

Tuesday January 14th 2020 –  

Milankovitch Cycles and other Cosmic Influences on our Climate’

Prof. Alan Aylward from University College London.

Our climate is known to have had long term variations like the 100,000 year cycle of Ice Ages. An explanation for these was mooted by a Scotsman, James Croll in 1875 but is more commonly known as Milankovitch cycles after the later more extensive analysis by Milutin Milankovitch. The description of the variations in the Earth’s orbit and orientation has given a surprisingly good fit to the variations in the last few million years. However not all the variations are accurately modelled and questions remain as to whether other “cosmic” variations might have a significant effect on our climate, some of them quite drastic and possibly sudden.

Tuesday December 10th 2019 –  

“Famous Women Geologists: from Mary Anning to now”

Dr. Chris Duffin – is a Scientific Associate in the Earth Science Department at The Natural History Museum London.  Originally qualifying as a geologist, he has Ph.D. degrees in Vertebrate Palaeontology from University College London, and the History of Medicine from Kingston University.

Lecture Abstract : Geology is the youngest of the sciences and, today, is a popular degree course and focus of active amateur interest for both men and women. Although having a long history of contribution to the field, women have clearly been under-represented, although that situation has steadily been changing. The professionalization of the science during the nineteenth century embraced both sexes, although women were not admitted as Fellows of the Geological Society of London until 1919. This lecture will consider highlights of the lives and contributions of some of the many notable women geologists who have dedicated their lives to the development of the science.

The earliest women geologists were primarily collectors and included the indomitable Etheldred Bennett (1776-1845), and the famous fossil collectors of Lyme Regis, Mary Anning (1799-1847) and the Philpot sisters. Many of the famous male geologists of early Victorian times married well – women who actively supported and directly contributed to the research undertaken by their husbands. Significant contributions have been made by women across the full range of geological disciplines – for example, the discovery of the earth’s inner core by Inge Lehmann (1888-1983), the discovery of the mid-Atlantic ridge by Marie Tharp (1920-2006), the elucidation of the Pre-Cambrian by Janet Watson (1923-1985), and more recently, the current contributions of Professor Emily Rayfield to skeletal mechanics in dinosaurs, and of Professor Dame Jane Francis to palaeoclimatology and polar studies.

Tuesday November 12th 2019 –  

Frank Stokes Memorial Lecture:

Dr. Anne Padfield, Kent Geologists’ Group.

‘Magnificent Minerals in Thin Section’

Thin sections are more than just pretty, illuminated, colourful images, seen through a petrological microscope, not dissimilar to a kaleidoscope, but without the symmetry.  They are useful tools to determine the mineral constituents, of an unidentifiable to the naked eye and sometimes, seemingly uninteresting, piece of rock.  Determining the mineralogy, in this way, is particularly useful for identifying igneous and metamorphic rocks and can also provide tantalising clues, as to the geological history of a specimen.

Knowing how to read thin sections is the petrologists forte, but a toolbox of identification clues, enables the inexperienced to retrieve valuable information regarding mineralogy.  This transforms several thin sections, into a useful reference collection and fascinating, beautiful and collectable, objects in their own right.

This talk explains some of the easy identification techniques, for common minerals found in rocks and how to use these mineral assemblages to identify the rock under examination, in addition to showing lots of lovely pictures.

Tuesday October 8th 2019 –  

The Geology of Norway: Fjords, Fossils & Larvikite”

By Chris Darmon, editor of ‘Down to Earth Magazine’.

Tuesday September 10th 2019 –  

“Sinkholes”  – Richard Puchner, FGS – WSP UK Ltd.

‘Sinkholes have been in the news lately and always seem to take us by surprise, with dramatic accounts in the press. Some of the nearest have occurred locally in Hertfordshire, which is mostly underlain by chalk, a soluble rock hosting voids. Are sinkholes likely to occur wherever there is chalk? Although nobody can be certain, there are clues to understanding why they form and where they are likely to occur. One of the main factors is man and the influence we have had on the land over time, up until and including the present day’.

Tuesday August 13th 2019 –  

AGS Members Evening.  Talks and the Golden Egg Competition!


Two talks are confirmed:

“Rocks on the Right Track” from Stephen Krause (AGS) + Richard Furminger

“Gold Mining in the UK.” from Bruce Rimmer (AGS)

There are four entries for the Golden Egg Competition, all of which will be on display for the evening and judged by three volunteer AGS members.

Tuesday July 9th 2019 

“Triumphs and Disasters in Engineering Geology”

Prof. David Norbury – Sussex University, Brighton.

Since the branch of geology labelled engineering geology was first developed in the mid 20thcentury there has been wide development through publication, teaching and professional development.  So, has that meant that we have done better at controlling project outcomes when faced with engineering in the ground?  David will consider these developments and learnings in the context of some spectacular failures, where the lessons of the past and the importance of understanding the ground and the geology have been forgotten or ignored.  This has interesting implications for the length of generational memory and the importance of passing on knowledge to the younger generations.

Tuesday June 11th 2019 –  

“The Forces Responsible for Tectonic Plate Movements”

Robert Maurer – Harrow & Hillingdon Geological Society.

” From a mechanical engineering perspective, tectonic plate movements can be plausibly explained as a function of the induced rotational circumferential stress forces associated with a rotating unbalanced planetary body trying to reach a stable and symmetrical balanced condition around its centre of gravity.  This approach allows both the magnitude of the stress forces to create and sustain tectonic movements and orogenic activity to be estimated.  It also gives a mechanism for the opening of the mid-Atlantic Ridge as well as determining the coefficient of friction at the crust/mantle interface.  This radical approach challenges the Hess model for tectonic activity by demonstrating that heated convection currents are a consequence of tectonic activity and not the cause.”

Tuesday May 14th 2019

“The Mesozoic Marine Reptile Renaissance” Part 3: Thalattosuchians, the Mesozoic marine ‘Crocodiles.’

Dr Mark Evans – New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, New Walk, Leicester LE1 7EA + School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH

“This third instalment of the so-called Mesozoic Marine Reptile Renaissance (MMRR) will look at a group of marine ‘crocodiles’ from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Living crocodilians are often cited as an example of living fossils in popular culture and media, little changed from the time of the dinosaurs. However, the fossil record shows that, despite some superficial resemblances, crocodylomorphs (living crocodilians and their extinct relatives) were much more evolutionarily diverse in the geological past. The thalattosuchians or “sea crocodiles” are one of the most striking examples of this. First appearing in the early Jurassic (Toarcian) and surviving until the early Cretaceous (Hauterivian-Barremian), thalattosuchians are most probably an early-diverging group of crocodylomorphs only distantly related to the modern, crown, crocodilians (i.e. ‘true’ crocodiles, alligators and gharials).

Thalattosuchians can be divided into two groups: the superficially gharial-like teleosauroids and the more marine-adapted metriorhynchoids. Both are found in the comparatively well-known Peterborough Member of the Oxford Clay Formation (Middle Jurassic) of the UK. Recent research has resurrected the early twentieth century assessment of high species diversity in both groups of thalattosuchian, rather than only two of each, as was thought from the 1980’s onwards. Furthermore, previously cryptic representatives of later subgroups specialised for “extreme hypercarnivory” have been discovered hiding in museum drawers. This talk will review some of the evidence for this reassessment of the role of thalattosuchians in the marine ecosystems of the Mesozoic.”

Tuesday April 9th 2019 –  

“Canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau”.

Dr. Tony Waltham – Geo photos

This is Tony’s 11th talk to the AGS…….

“A run around the splendid landforms carved in red sandstones in Utah and Arizona, and a look at some of their geological origins.  Dissected by the Grand Canyon, the Colorado Plateau houses the spectacular landscapes on Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches and many more in well known National Parks.”

Tuesday March 12th 2019 –

“The Seven Geological Wonders Of Hertfordshire”

Mike Howgate M.Sc. FLS,   Chairman of the Amateur Geological Society and County Recorder for Geology in Hertfordshire .

“In geological circles Hertfordshire is not known for its spectacular features, quite the opposite.  When I told my old professor at U.C.L. that I intended to run a 6 week adult education course for East Hertfordshire College on the ‘Geology & Scenery of Hertfordshire’ he thought that I had seriously lost the plot.  “A bit of Chalk and London Clay and the rest is gardening” he intoned.  In a way he was correct but once I got into the detail there was enough geology for a 20 week course as some of you know.   We will look at some of the county’s spectacular highlights – they are of course smaller versions of world famous geological features such as  Mount Fuji-yama, Niagara Falls, Gaping Ghyll, The Grand Canyon, The Greenland Ice Sheet and we must not miss out what is arguably  the toughest stone on the planet.  Then we will finish up with what just might be, and I emphasise the might, the largest Palaeolithic idol on the planet.  It could make a village in Hertfordshire as famous as Easter Island. World Heritage status perhaps!”

Tuesday February 12th 2019 –        


With a short music interlude from Alamin Bhuiya (AGS) and the “Earth Quakers” ! 


Well, we are always a month late!

Tuesday January 8th 2019 –  

“Colours of the Natural History Museum’s Gem Collection”

or, What gives minerals and gemstones their colour?

Ms.Robin Hansen from the Natural History Museum.

‘Gemstones, gem materials, gem rough and worked objects have been collected alongside mineral specimens for over 270 years, creating one of the world’s most outstanding mineralogical collections, housed in the Natural History Museum, London.  Some 5,000 of the 185,000 specimens are gemstones or worked objects and constitute the Gem Collection. Learn more about the history of the Gem Collection, some of its highlights, and what gives these gem materials their beautiful array of colours.’

Robin Hansen, born in Perth, Western Australia, graduated with a degree in Geology, working for several years in Iron Ore exploration before moving to the UK. She worked for 10 years for a dealership selling mineral specimens for collectors. Robin’s love of gems led her to complete her Diploma in Gemmology through the Gem-A.  She was thrilled to be accepted for her dream role of Curator, Minerals and Gemstones at the Natural History Museum where she has spent the last 3.5 years helping to look after this amazing collection.

Tuesday December 11th 2018 –  

“Enigmatic Minerals of the U.K.”

Mike Rumsey of the Natural History Museum.

” Not all minerals are what they seem.  Mineral names come and go, definitions change, collecting trends alter and our science and technology moves on.  This combines to create a wealth of confusing and ever changing mineralogical terminology, yet strangely the physical material in question never changes.  Focusing on some of my recent research and compiling the work of many others, I will review a few examples of confusing (or perhaps more positively described as ‘enigmatic’) minerals of the north of England and Scotland where the name given to a certain mineral has been changed, removed or reclassified.  In some cases the material is yet to be given a name or might even be unclassifiable!  In amongst the barrage of names, we will take a look at: plumbonacrite – a lead carbonate from Leadhills that refused to die, chlorophaeite – a silicate from the Hebrides that never was, wooldridgeite, ashoverite and sweetite – ‘minerals’ from the north of England that perhaps should never have been named.  Also consitonite – an organic compound from the Lake district which turned out to be a real surprise, eosite from Leadhills which until now has remained unresolved, and finally ‘?-ites’ from both Scotland and northern UK – minerals that are yet to come.”!

Tuesday Nov. 13th 2018Frank Stokes Memorial Lecture:

“Biosignatures in Earth’s Oldest Sediments.”

Dr. Dominic Papineau – University College London

“ Chemically-oscillating reactions are poorly known reactions that produce diagnostic patterns of concentric equidistant laminations such as those found in agate geodes. A demonstration of the chemically-oscillating reaction will be performed and discussed in light of a number of “enigmatic” geological specimens, put into the context of biological evolution, and the early evolution of life on the primitive Earth.”

Tuesday Oct. 9th 2018“Microbes to Marrows” – the evolution of plants and flowers.        

 Jane Tubb – Chairman of East Herts Geology Club.

There are approximately 4,000,000 known species of vascular plants worldwide, of which about 2,000 new species are described each year, and 20% of plant species are in danger of extinction.  This talk looks at some of the fossil evidence for the evolution and diversification of plants from photosynthesising bacteria over the past two billion years.

Jane is an Earth Science graduate of the Open University and was an Earth Science tutor with the OU until 2015.  This will be her second visit to the AGS.

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk

Tuesday Sept.11th 2018 Sharks in the Desert, Lab and Ocean

Charlie Underwood – Birkbeck College, University London.

The talk will focus on Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras which are a branch of vertebrates that separated off from those with true bones in the Lower Palaeozoic.  As they are composed of cartilage well preserved fossil sharks are rare but spectacular.  In contrast their teeth are robust and are produced throughout life, which explains why shed teeth are such common fossils.  The evolutionary development of this unique dental system is being investigated.  Teeth of these vertebrates have been adapted to form dentitions ranging from the serrated saw blades of deep sea dogfish to the grinding plates of eagle rays.

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk

Tuesday 14th August 2018 – AGS Members evening.

Two members will be giving short talks:

Doug Daniels on the “Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire”.

Stephen Krause on the “Building Stones of Manchester”.

Also there will be the annual ‘Golden Egg’ competition won last year by Richard Furminger.  We don’t want him taking the trophy again so we have four super entries this year with a non specified geological theme, such as self collected specimens, a photo, painting or drawings or a poster, a display of specimens with a particular theme (these need not be self collected), a report on a field trip or almost anything geological.  The entries will not be disclosed until the evening.  Three (other) members will be asked to judge the entries.


See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talks and the outcome of the competition.

Tuesday 10th July 2018 Ros Mercer from the Essex Rock & Mineral Society.

Ros, a qualified geologist and secretary of the ERMS is going to talk about “New Zealand Geology”.  She will take us into and through that truly amazing land of highly active geology, with ice, fire and jade.  Ros and Ian her husband, also a geologist, will be bringing a large collection of specimens along, enough to fill two large tables so the talk will be well illustrated!  This will be Ros’s first talk to the AGS so please come along and give her a great welcome.

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk

Tuesday 12th June 2018 – Dr. Tom Booth from The Natural History Museum.

“Cheddar Man” and how researchers obtained all that surprising information about the physical appearance of our earliest ancestor.

The name was given to the 10,000 year old skeleton which was recovered in 1903 from Cheddar Gorge, Somerset.  It is the oldest, mostly complete human skeleton recovered in Britain and dates to the Early Mesolithic age when we where still connected to Europe. (nothing to do with Brexit))  The talk will discuss the results of DNA analysis, which has provided new information on his ancestry, appearance and his genetic legacy in Britain today.

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk

Tuesday May 8th 2018 – Stephen Krause BSc.

Stephen is a qualified geologist and worked in civil engineering and as a project coordinator both in the UK and Ireland.  He has taught for the Hampstead Institute and more recently for the WEA in North London.

“Learning Geology in Ethiopia” : the exploration of remote areas for mineral resources and surveying the geology on a limited budget.  This was pre ‘Google Earth’ and drones and relied on making maps from aerial photos and ground surveys.  This was a fantastic learning curve and also helpful in developing the country’s mineral resources.

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday April 10th 2018 – “Virtual Fieldwork Using Google Earth” – Dr. Ian Watkinson

If you have not much idea about ‘Google Earth’, it will be a fascinating introduction into how, at the touch of a button, you can explore the changing surface of the planet and interpret what we see using basic principles of earth sciences.

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday 13th March 2018

“The Active Volcanoes of Italy” – Dr. Tony Waltham:  Italy has a variety of volcanoes with spectacular contrasts in eruption styles. On Sicily, Mt. Etna is perhaps Europe’s most active volcano, with lava flows from parasitic vents and explosive events at the summit caldera. Stromboli off the north coast of Sicily is famous for its eponymous style of frequent and modest eruptions. Vesuvius is currently quiet, but has produced great eruptions in the past, especially during that hyperactive 24 hours in AD79. Across the other side of Naples, Campi Flegrei is perhaps the least known but potentially the most devastating of the nations eruptive hot spots.”

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday January 9th 2018 

“Sir Richard Owen and Fossil Invertebrates” – This is Dr. Chris Duffin’s 14th talk to the AGS!  Chris is Scientific Associate in the Earth Science Dept. of the Natural History Museum and in 2011 won the Mary Anning Award for outstanding contributions to palaeontology.

“Richard Owen introduced the term ‘dinosaur’ and was responsible for describing a number of fossil reptiles, as well as the existence of giant antipodean fossil birds from a single bone fragment!  He oversaw the establishment of the Natural History Museum and the model dinosaurs now in Sydenham Park, as well as being at the forefront of palaeontological research for several decades.”

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday December 12th 2017

“Why Planet Earth is Habitable” by Dr. Philip von Strandmann from UCL.

The last talk of the current year……..

The Earth has been inhabited by life for almost 90% of its 4.5 billion year existence.  However, life requires very narrow climatic and chemical conditions.  The implication therefore is that Earth has maintained such conditions necessary for life for billions of years.  This cannot be a coincidence, which means that there must be active processes that keep Earth habitable, despite cataclysmic events such as meteorite impacts, volcanoes, continental drift and mass extinctions………..

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday November 14th  2017

Frank Stokes Memorial Lecture:

“Connoisseurs of Minerals: the Freeman and Simmons Collections”

by Dr. Monica Price, Collections Manager, Mineralogy & Petrology of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

We often talk about connoisseurship when discussing fine mineral specimens; well formed, richly coloured, lustrous crystals in aesthetic groups and unique combinations, are beautiful natural works of art but they are also repositories of scientific information. My talk will focus particularly on two collections made by connoisseurs at very different times in history.  The first was made by Dr Richard Simmons in the 19th century and the second by Pearl and Sid Freeman (both members of the AGS) in the 20th century.  Both mineral collections are very special to the Museum, and Monica will explain why……..

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday October 10th 2017

“Exceptionally Preserved Cambrian Fossils, the flowering of early animal life, and world heritage in Yunnan Province, China.” by Professor Derek Siveter of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

520 million year old Cambrian mudstones are yielding a spectacular variety of exquisitely preserved fossils.  Thousands of fossils have been collected, comprising not just of the hard shells of the animals, but also their soft tissues in fine detail.  The Chengjiang fossil sites are of world importance…….

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday September 12th 2017  

“The Textures of Peridotite Rocks of Sub-Continental Mantle Origin” by Dr. Bryan Tabor from Harrow & Hillingdon Geological Society.                                                               “Processes involved in the development of igneous and metamorphic rocks involve some combination of crystal growth, solution, movement and deformation, which is expressed as changes in texture.  Recent advances in the quantification of aspects of crystalline textures have opened new avenues of research that extend and complement the more dominant chemical and isotopic studies”.   It is on this theme, trying to find achievable measurement that my PhD thesis work is based and summarized in the talk.

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday August 8th 2107


“Green Skies and Brown Clouds on Lanzaroti” (20mins) by Vic Taylor (AGS)

“Platinum – It’s Mineralogy, Extraction and Applications” by Bruce Rimmer (AGS)

Also: Display of entries for the coveted ‘Golden Egg’ Competition.

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis and the outcome of the ‘Golden Egg’ competition!

Tuesday 11th July 2017   –  Did not take place, no speaker.

Mike Howgate stood in for the speaker who was stuck in traffic ……..

“Virtual Fieldwork using Google Earth” by Ian Watkinson.  Lecturer in Regional Tectonic Analysis at the Dept. of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway University of London.

Wherever we live, our lives are shaped by the motion of the Earth’s tectonic plates.  Mountain belts, sedimentary basins, oceans, volcanoes and earthquakes are formed by plate tectonics and they control climate, agriculture, mineral resources and natural disasters.  Using Google Earth we can explore the planet from anywhere with an internet connection.  Adding geospatial data such as earthquake locations, crustal ages, population densities and historical surface imagery to Google Earth allows us to asses a wide range of geological processes in four dimensions and understand their impact on the Earth’s inhabitants.

See ‘Nodule‘ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday June 13th 2017

“Internal Features of Gemstones” by Patrick Daly of Gem-A

Patrick is from Gem-A, an international Gemmological institution specialising in education and identification of gemstones. His talk will explain how inclusions in gems are formed and why they can be desirable, and how they can be instrumental in identifying the many species of gemstones. They can also reveal how a gem was formed and whether it is a natural or synthetic stone plus other fascinating facts…….

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis.

Tuesday May 9th 2017

“Chromite, Tungsten & Iron: Mineral deposits and mines in Portugal”

by Lesley Dunlop     – Northumbria University. 

Although Portugal is a small country it contains an interesting range of different types of mineral deposits from different settings. Chromites is found within a series of ophiolites, tin and tungsten deposits are similar to those of south-west England and granite related whereas the iron is from volcanic origin. All of these types of deposits have been exploited commercially over the years and some are being re-evaluated. This talk will cover the range of deposits, characteristic and unusual minerals and show the main deposits.

Things about myself:
I have had a long interest in mineral deposits and became interested in the Portuguese tin-tungsten deposits whilst working on geochemistry of the related deposits in SW England. Over the last 25 years I have made many visits to different mining regions and seen many changes. I currently work at Northumbria University where I do mainly geophysical research. I am currently Chair of the English Geodiversity Forum and GeoConservationUK and involved with the Geoconservation Committee of the Geological Society.

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis.

Tuesday April 11th  2017

“Sandstone Fantasies of Jordan” by Dr. Tony Waltham of Geophotos.

Jordan has a classic desert environment where the geology is clearly displayed with much cover by soil and plants. Much of the country’s area is floored by unexciting, minimally folded Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, but there are two notable exceptions. The Dead Sea Rift has faults, dykes, geothermal waters and the Dead Sea minerals. And red Precambrian sandstones provide sheer spectacle in southern Jordan. Wadi Rum presents the natural, with classic semi-arid landforms, including mesas, buttes and arches. Petra presents the artificial, with the amazing rock carvings and exposures around the 2000-year-old city site. “Rose-red city half as old as time” is the famous epithet, but the best bits are neither city nor rose-red.

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis.

Tuesday March 14th  2017

“Stones said to have fallen from the Clouds” by Prof. Paul Henderson from UCL.

Farmworkers knew from bitter experience that stones came from the heavens, sometimes with dramatic sounds and sights, but they were not believed by the savants.  Prejudice and disbelief were finally overcome through unusual “rock hard evidence’ at the end of the 18th century.  Now we understand much about meteorites, but do we really know all the answers?

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis.

Tuesday 10th January 2017 was the first meeting at the Baptist Church and featured

“IGUANODON” by Dr. Chris Duffin, Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum.

The full story of this famous Dinosaur, from the first incomplete discoveries, the incorrect positioning of the thumb spike, reconstructions at Crystal Palace, establishing if it was quadrupedal or bipedal, fossil footprint finds and its dental habits!

See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis.

Past Lectures – 2016

Tuesday 13th December

This was the last meeting in the Parlour …….

“Our Heritage – Stone Tools and Rock Art” by Bob Maurer from Harrow & Hillingdon Geological Society.

A synopsis of the talk can be found under ‘Nodule’……..

Tuesday 8th November

“Carbonado Diamonds From Space” by Pro. Hilary Downes of Birkbeck University.

  • See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday 11th October

“The Mesozoic Marine Reptile Renaissance Part Two” by Dr. Mark Evans from the Leicester Arts & Museums Service and the University of Leicester.

  • See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday 13th September

“Virtual Fossils – Soft Bodied Sensations from the Silurian” by Prof. Derek Siveter from the Oxford University Museum.

  • See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday August 9th   was a ‘Members Evening’ and included two Mini Talks:

“A Gemstone Through the Ages” by Janice Nicholson, Treasurer of the AGS.

A lovely talk by Janice on the origin and history of the gemstone Peridot (or Periodo´) which is gem quality Olivine. Pale green in colour, depending on the iron content, Janice also explained where the stones have been found.  A ‘green’ olivine beach in Hawaii, inclusions in meteorites and in volcanic lava, plus Native Indians of Arizona who found the small gemstones in streams were just a few.  Janice showed a number of interesting slides which included some of beautifully polished and faceted specimens.

“Clay and Bricks” by Richard Furminger

Talk was ok, with the brick and clay examples the best bit…..

******  The coveted ‘Golden Egg’ award was deservedly won by Penny Badham for her wonderful sketches and water colours of her numerous geological trips.  Congratulations Penny!


Tuesday 12th July

“30 Years Collecting with Sussex Mineral & Lapidary Society” by John Pearce.

  • See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.

Tuesday 14th June     “The Natural History of the Mammoth”.

Prof. Adrian Lister from the Natural History Museum.

  • See ‘Nodule’ for a synopsis of the talk.