Monday, 11 November 2013

TW:eed Project talk at the Rotunda Geology Group

This week Sarah Davies, one of the TW:eed Team members from the University of Leicester, gave a talk on our project to the Rotunda Geology Group (RGG) in Scarborough.

Professor Sarah Davies

Over a year ago, I was invited by Professor Peter Rawson to give a talk to the RGG following a visit to the Rotunda Museum as part of a postgraduate fieldtrip. As time moves faster with every passing year, in apparently no time at all I was on train travelling north (always a good direction) to Scarborough. On a breezy November evening, 40+ members from across north and east Yorkshire formed an enthusiastic audience for my talk and the meeting was opened by the group’s Chairman Susan Rawson.  I summarized the team’s findings to date, as we start our second year of research on the TW:eed Project.

I explained how our diverse group of scientists is searching for clues about how, and why, aquatic and fish-like tetrapods evolved into land-going ‘modern’ tetrapods during the Early Carboniferous. Here in Leicester, working closely with the British Geological Survey (BGS), we are focussing on generating a detailed picture of the environment where the tetrapods are preserved. Two major data-gathering exercises are now complete with 500m successions, at Burnmouth and the Norham Mains borehole, measured, recorded and sampled. We are discovering the character of floodplains and the river channels that traversed them. Periodically river-derived floods submerged the floodplains generating extensive shallow freshwater lakes and there are glimpses of marine incursions onto the floodplain.  Our analyses of the finest sediments are revealing much about how the tetrapods were preserved within this palaeoenvironment. As always, the data gathered so far are answering some of our original questions but are raising even more. This is why research, and this project in particular, is so exciting - the new questions never end.

There were many questions at the end of the talk which is great for a speaker. I can’t answer all of them with the certainty I would like yet, but I hope to be able to return in the future with more answers, and probably with a good number of additional questions!

Many thanks to my hosts Pete and Sue Rawson and to the members of the RGG.

Top: The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough. Photo courtesy of Professor Peter Rawson. Bottom: The logo of the Rotunda Geology Group, based on the Speeton Plesiosaur, one of the museum’s prize specimens.

The Rotunda Museum in Scarborough was first opened in 1829. The museum houses displays explaining the geology along the fascinating stretch of north Yorkshire coastline and the association with William Smith, the father of English Geology. The central Rotunda of the beautiful building that houses the displays was designed under the guidance of William Smith. It is a ‘must-visit’ if you are in the area. The Rotunda Geology Group promotes public interest in the geosciences and is a very active group with a monthly lecture series at Hull University’s Scarborough campus from October to May and field meetings during the summer


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