Monday, 27 November 2017
The course included a tour of the BGS Geological walkway (thanks to Steve Parry), the National Core Repository (thanks to Simon Harris), and the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (including the stable isotope laboratories).
Facebook: Geochemistry Training
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Measurement and modelling human dermal bioavailability of potentially harmful organic soil contaminants...by Jack Lort
Thursday, 16 November 2017
These may be the key ‘killer facts’ for you:
- students perform better in geology than they do in other science subjects'
- AS to A2 staying on rate is better in geology than in other science subjects
- geology contains elements of all the STEM subjects – critical for those who want to continue studying a science
- geology is seen as a ‘relevant’ and accessible subject, often more so than other science subjects
- geology gives the school/college a ‘unique selling point’ (USP)
- geology interests both girls and boys
- geology is a popular subject
- the UK needs geologists!
- geologists are well paid
- geology plays a vital role in supporting the economy of the UK
Download the full Killer facts article originally published in Teaching Earth Sciences, complete with supporting evidence.
Students perform better in geology than they do in other science subjects
An Ofqual analysis in 2015 showed that A-level geology candidates achieved between 0.6 and 1 grade higher than students of an equal general ability who took other science subjects i.e. biology, chemistry or physics.
The AS to A2 staying on rate is better in geology than in other science subjects
Data produced by the inter-board Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) shows that the ‘retention’ (or ‘staying on’) rate for geology from AS- to A2-level for the past three years was significantly higher than for biology, chemistry or physics.
Geology contains elements of all the STEM subjects – critical for those who want to continue studying a science
Nikki Edwards, ESTA Chair, has recently carried out an analysis of GCSE geology which clearly showed that the geology specification contains significant elements of biology, chemistry, physics, maths and engineering (the STEM subjects).
Geology is seen as a ‘relevant’ and accessible subject, often more so than other science subjects
Experience has shown that geology can explain the physical outdoor world in ways not readily accessed by other science subjects.
Geology gives the school/college a ‘unique selling point’ (USP)
Teaching geology gives a school/college many strong selling points that can be used to promote the institution. A particular case study is Truro School, which employed a company to identify its strengths and weaknesses in terms in attracting students and parents – the results showed that the fact that geology was an excellent department, and achieved higher grades and success than other subjects, was a major factor.
Geology interests both girls and boys
Probably the ‘killer facts’ discussed so far are the most likely to persuade senior management of the importance of continuing/launching a GCSE or A-level geology course.
Geology is a popular subject
Geology is usually a popular subject in institutions where it is offered, and in some school/colleges, it is the most popular science subject.
Chae Cruikshank, Science Subject Advisor and Geology Subject Officer for the Awarding Body OCR, has written:
‘In centres which offer A level geology, it competes very well with the other sciences, and attracts students who may not otherwise take a science A level; an analysis of A level entry data by OCR showed that in 1:10 centres of all sizes, geology was the most popular science by entry, and in most other centres, competed with chemistry as the second science, it was only in those centres where other factors were imposed (such as a limit numbers or reduced time allocated) that geology was less popular.’Students on geology courses are the happiest with their degrees. Discover why Geology rocks.
The UK needs geologistsThat the country needs geologists is evidenced by the fact that the latest published UK government ‘Shortage Occupation’ lists ten geoscience-related shortage jobs (including geologist) and only one physics-related job (geophysicist), one chemistry-related job (geochemist), one biology-related job (bioinformation technician) and no geography-related jobs.
More than 40% of applicants for undergraduate geology degrees have A-level geology (UCAS data 2010 and 2012).
Approximately 44% of students who gained A-level geology that went on to university studied for a geoscience degree (Earth Science Teachers’ Association, ESTA, data 2009-2014).
Geologists are well paidThe salaries of geologists are higher than those of many other professionals. Geologists at Imperial College London have emerged as the top earners in a league table of graduate salaries published in the Sunday Times Good Universities Guide, 2017. Their average wage of £73,267 six months after leaving university surpasses that of medics and engineers. What do graduates earn’ section of the Complete University Guide lists mean professional starting salaries for subject groups for first time graduates who completed their degrees in 2014-15. This shows that, of the 70 subject areas listed, geology is 17th at £24,818.
Geology plays a vital role in supporting the economy of the UKA recent Council for British Industry (CBI) report has highlighted the key role played in particular by the minerals industry, in supporting the UK economy.
The UK Mineral Extraction Industry report carries the following comments:
‘Minerals directly contribute to the UK economy by generating £235bn in gross value added, representing 16% of the total UK economy.’ (p5)
‘Excluding oil and gas, mineral extraction employs 34,000 people and is 2.5 times more productive than the UK average.’ (p6).The economy simply could not function without minerals; without them, life as we know it could not be sustained on its current scale. The message is clear: minerals underpin everything in the UK economy.
A longer version of this article was originally published in Teaching Earth Sciences, Vol. 42 No. 2 2017.
Monday, 13 November 2017
|Andi Smith and Angela Lamb.|
The Monte Verita conference centre is perched on the top of a hill in the Swiss Alps not too far from the Italian border and offers an idyllic spot for a scientific conference. In the early 1900s this hilltop sanctuary was home to a vegetarian colony, nudist retreat and then sanatorium. More recently, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have adopted the venue as their main conference centre and host a range of events throughout the year.
Thursday, 9 November 2017
A bit about me…
So a bit about the stable isotope course…
|Guest speaker Adrian Boyce (University of Glasgow and SUERC) lecturing |
on the geological applications of stable isotopes.
One of my personal highlights of the course was a tour of the geological walkway and the geological repository. The geological walkway is a selection of different rocks from each of the geological periods in the Earth’s history from the Precambrian to the Quaternary. Here we got to see Lewisian gneiss, the oldest rock in Britain! On our second day a tour of the National Geological Repository included a stop to see 500km of sedimentary core archives, its sheer size making you realise the huge amount of scientific research that is carried out at the BGS. We also got to see the isotope facility, 16 different mass spectrometers (!) that are used in analysing the different isotopes such as oxygen, silicon, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulphur (and then there are all the heavier mass isotopes in the radiogenic part).
|Wow, the National Geological Repository at BGS, showing the storage of both |
onshore (left) and offshore (right) sedimentary cores from different geological
periods from in and around the UK.
Tuesday, 7 November 2017
|Dr Jon Lee helping us interpret the geology at Happisburgh, Norfolk|
It was four days in total. The first day was at our headquarters in Keyworth where we were given an introduction to the geology of East Anglia, human evolution in the area and an overview of current coastal management issues. After this followed the nitty gritty of how you describe, interpret and classify Quaternary deposits according to the most recent British Standard.
Then it was off to Sunny Norfolk for the next three days to put all this into practice.
HappisburghWe started in Happisburgh, a site well known for its coastal erosion and somewhere we have monitored as part of our Slope Dynamics Project since 2001. The beach here is around 900 metres long and we were tasked with interpreting the entire cliff section to understand what's there and how it got there.
|Starting the cliff section at Happisburgh, "draw what you see...."|
Over half of the bay had geology that looked like this, a nice gentle layer-cake affair:
|The cliff section at Happisburgh. From top to bottom: Happisburgh Sand Member, Ostend Clay, Happisburgh Till|
But then the further south we went, the more complex it became. There was quite a bit of head-scratching, debate and even argument (!) about the palaeoenvironmental conditions (what the environment was like when the sediments were deposited).
|Getting stuck-in at understanding the geology and Happisburgh|
|Professor Emrys Phillips drawing his interpretation of the Happisburgh cliffs|
|Another sand drawing of the cliffs in front of us. No idea who drew this. It definitely wasn't me.|
|My first attempt to interpret the 900 m cliff section at Happisburgh|
East RuntonThe last morning was spent at East Runton where we were again asked to interpret the cliff section. This time, we were more confident and were able to use everything we had learned over the previous two days at Happisburgh. Again there was debate and a lot of drawing in the sand but we came to an agreed interpretation that I would like to tell you all about here but that would spoil it for those going on the course in the future! Instead, here are some pics...
|The cliffs at East Runton, Norfolk|
|Field sketch of the cliffs at East Runton, Norfolk|
So how exactly do you describe, interpret and classify Quaternary deposits?
|Dave Entwisle teaching us how to tell the difference|
between a silt and a clay by their behaviour