Living with a Volcano

La Soufriere, Saint Vincent

La Soufriere, Saint Vincent

What is it like to live in the shadow of an active volcano? Since its last eruption in 1979, La Soufriere on the island of Saint Vincent has been quiet. But it is an ever present threat for those who live on the island.

This series of short films record the experiences and stories of people who have lived through the volcano’s eruptions. The films provide a unique insight into what it is like to live near an erupting volcano, be evacuated, live in evacuation shelters and plan for the future.

The films were made in collaboration with an international research project – STREVA.


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The Great Schools Geobakeoff – the results!







It’s only been a couple of weeks, but already Earth Science Week feels like a very long time ago! And it’s not over yet – it is at last (drumroll….) time to announce the results of the Great Schools Geobakeoff!

After the success of the inaugural geobakeoff in April, we weren’t sure if such baking heights could ever be reached again. But we need not have feared. Individuals, class teams and even some teachers (teachers, you have unfortunately all been disqualified) stepped up to the mark, to produce an array of baked geological delights. We salute you all!

Before we announce the five winners, some special mentions:

Maisie10 year old Maisie Jack, of Manorcroft Primary School, Egham, Surrey, for a lovely colourful Niagra Falls!

Gemma Tibbitts



A level student Gemma Tibbits of Range High School for the first cake based interpretation of global warming we’ve seen!




The team at Ringwood School for a fabulous array, from trilobites to erratics!

Ringwood School


And Thomas Yardley of King Edward VI Grammar School, for a dinosaur cake accompanied by a great description of how dinosaur fossils are formed and preserved.

Thomas Yardley


See our flickr album for all the brilliant entries!





But there could only be five winners….

In no particular order, here are our winning creations:

Ellie Comer, Emma Warrington, Elysia Crowley, Sophie Moore, Tina Gillespy and Nia Jones, Year 11, Whitchurch High School, Cardiff

Whitchurch High School

The Whitchurch School team describe their volcano cake as ‘a layered red velvet and madeira cake, which represents ancient lava flows and ash layers.’ It also involves Nutella, strawberry jelly and red buttercream, but frankly, you had us at red velvet. They conclude, in a litany of geolsoc blog-worthy punning;

‘Could you call us great bakers and geologists? Of quartz you could! Our cake ain’t no schist, but if you find anything wrong with it, just blame Saint Andreas – it’s all his fault.’

Year 2, Roman Way First School

After learning about dinosaurs and the time periods in which they roamed the Earth, Mrs Baxter’s class excelled themselves by creating a geological timeline in cake! It even includes a dig site where geologists uncover their fossilised remains…

Roman Way First timeline 1

Says class teacher Mrs Baxter: ‘This activity enabled the children to draw on their knowledge as well as develop their cooking skills.  The end result (as the photographs show) was fantastic and it tasted delicious too!’

Amber Gardner, age 11, Torquay Girls Grammar School

We were really impressed with this recreation of a glacier in cake form! Accompanied by a detailed description of how glaciers form in mountain ranges, Amber notes:

‘This cake represents the formation of a glacier in a mountain range. The mountains surround an arm chair shape and when a glacier is formed, it is called a cirque. Glaciers form when snow remains in the same place all year round, where the snow eventually turns into ice.’

A tricky concept to pull off in cake form, and we loved the result!

Vicki Gardner












Esme O’Brien Thomas, age 9, Barnes Primary School

We always love an Earth cake, but this one comes with the added bonus of Antarctic penguins, a sign post to the centre of the Earth, and continents cut out using an atlas as a template.

Esme says: ‘My cake is representing the world. It has the layers of the Earth, such as its crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. This was made by adding food colouring to the sponge mixture so I could get different colour layers.’

She also notes that she had no help from Mum or Dad to create the final result! We hope it tasted as good as it looks.


India Maxwell-Roberts, age 8, Manorcroft Primary School, Egham, Surrey

Though not strictly geological in its entirety, we loved this recreation of India’s fish tank, reimagined as the Great Barrier Reef – with a Finding Nemo twist! Incorporating various marine species, including some colourful corals, it has to be the most biodiverse – and colourful! – geobakeoff entry we’ve yet seen.

India’s dad says ‘India is a keen budding scientist, and has a fascination with marine biology. She wanted to make a cake that represented the different species of marine life on the Barrier Reef, including the corals and anemones. She is partly inspired by watching the life unfold in our marine fish tank that we’ve had for the last few years (picture attached!) 


Congratulations to all our winners – prizes will be winging their way to you soon!

A huge thank you to all the schools and individuals who took part, we had so much fun viewing all of your entries! We look forward to seeing you for the next great geobakeoff extravaganza….

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Granite one, Perlite one – Knitting Rocks

Trilobite hat (c) Hannah Ingalls

It’s Autumn, and while we’d normally have been in our woolies for weeks now, we’re still able to get away without. For knitters this is a great time to whip up a quick hat or pair of gloves – but have you ever considered geological knitting?

From wearable strata to knitted geodes, there are a host of patterns out there for the geologist in your life, especially when that geologist is you.

The Society’s Code for Geological Fieldwork suggests warm and waterproof clothing in the field – why not try a trilobite hat for a fossil lover? This free pattern is warm enough for windy days but not so bulky you couldn’t get a hard hat on top, and it’s fabulous to boot.

Geology shawl (c) verybusymonkey

For neck wear, there are lots of shawls and scarves out there.  Verybusymonkey has designed an intricate strata shawl showcasing a range of knitting skills, which would work out in the field and just as well in the pub afterwards.  This one’s in my own knitting queue, once I’ve worked through the mountain of other projects on the go.  This designer also has a collection of beautiful shawls inspired by America’s national parks, including Bryce Canyon, or why not try some socks inspired by Aliso Creek?

This wonderfully accurate tectonics scarf might be another option for the more advanced knitter.

Knitted geodes (c) ODDknit

Or maybe you’d prefer a trilobite you can hold, instead of wear?  ODDknit’s trilobites are still partially encased in rock, and would make excellent paperweights if weighted – I use rice (make sure it’s well wrapped, in case your trilobite accidentally goes for a swim) or fishing weights, if you happen to have those to hand (well, you might).

There are a few other geology related patterns from this designer, but one standout is the fabulous beaded geode pattern!

These charming nautiloids are the work of Beth Skwarecki, who says that ‘every scary prehistoric beast should be made into a huggable toy’, and I quite agree.  With the pattern working up in an evening, they’d make a fantastic last minute gift for the young (and young at heart) geologist.

Darwin's Floating Head, created by Cristina Amati. Image (c) UCL, Institute of Making/Robert Eagle.

Darwin’s Floating Head, created by Cristina Amati. Image (c) UCL, Institute of Making/Robert Eagle.

Finally, we have an incredibly advanced bit of crafting.  When UCL moved Darwin’s bust from the Darwin Building to the Grant Museum they started a competition to find a replacement.  Using 3D scans of the original bust, the university challenged students to think of the most innovative techniques they could to honour Darwin’s legacy.  The finalists are all amazing, from a nutrient enriched gel for an ant colony to a USB flash drive in Darwin’s image (which the 3D scan converted from binary to a genetic code, ready to be inserted into DNA).  The winner, and my own personal favourite, is the absolutely magnificent (and slightly terrifying) life size crochet floating head.

A level of crafting skill the rest of us can only dream of.  For something slightly more achievable, keep watching the blog…


Credit (and blame) for the pun filled title is owed to Michael McKimm and Ted Nield. Sorry.

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The 100 Geosites film quiz – the ANSWERS






Sooo, Earth Science Week is coming to a close and it’s time to announce the answers to our film quiz! Thanks to all that took part, the winner of the coveted USB stick is Helen!

  1. So, the answer to number one was of course….. GAME OF THRONES! They filmed all over Northern Ireland and you can even to tours of the film sites!


    Image Credit – Wikipedia.

  2. Lyme Regis was used by the film makers of Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last completed novel.
  3. Number 3 was none other than Nanny Mc Phee.
  4. Glencoe – it was more about what hasn’t been filmed there! This epic location has been home to James Bond in the recent ‘Skyfall‘, the cast of Prometheus AND Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban


    Image taken from

  5. Harry Potter turns up again in Malham Cove, only this time he’s with Hermione and they’re filming The Deathly Hallows!
  6. Durdle Door was home for a short time to Stephen Fry’s interpretation of Oscar Wilde in ‘Wilde‘.
  7. The moody Storr was also used by the makers of Prometheus.
  8. Marloes Beach was briefly home to former Twilight star Kirsten Stewart during filming of Snow White and the Huntsman.
  9. Who could forget the beautiful Stanage Edge in the recent film version of Pride and Prejudice?
  10. Hartland Quay was used to film 1950′s Treasure Island
  11. The Mourne Mountains formed the backdrop to some of the filming for the critically acclaimed Philomena, with Steve Coogan and Judi Dench.
  12. Arthur’s Seat was visted by none other than temporary yorkshirewoman Anne Hathaway during the filming of weepie ‘One Day
  13. Aaaaaaaaad last but not least, there was much bow-and-arrow combat between men in tights on Hadrian’s Wall during the filming of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Image taken from

And with that, I am going to leave you with this…. (I know, I’m cruel!)

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The 100geosites film quiz!






‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a geosite’*

We have finally unleashed the 100 Great Geosites list on the world this week, which has gained some considerable attention!

The geosite nominations, which are famous for their excellent geology or spectacular scenery, have also caught the eye of many a film maker over the years, who have used the scenery in the UK as a backdrop to films and TV series.

So, welcome to the Geosites film quiz! Your challenge: using the rather generous descriptions below, work out which movies were filmed at the following geosites. All the sites below were nominated for inclusion in the final list – those with logos beside them made it in.

Check back tomorrow for the answers!

1. Carrick-a-rede

The rope bridge. Image Credit - Shiraz Chakera, Wikipedia.

The rope bridge. Image Credit – Shiraz Chakera, Wikipedia.

The dramatic landscape of the Causeway coast was chosen as the backdrop to this VERY popular tv series. Fans might better recognise this location as ‘Storm’s End’……





2. Lyme Regis100GG Badge CMYK-white-background


Lyme Bay, Dorset. Image Credit – Steinsky, Wikipedia.

The varied landscapes and geology of the UK have long been a muse for the literary greats over the centuries but which 90s film of a classic book was filmed in Lyme Regis?


3. Purbeck, Dorset


Fishermans Ledge, Purbeck. Image Credit – Jim Champion, Wikipedia.

The rocks on Purbeck have functioned as building stones for many a famous building (ourselves included!) but which famous British movie star was it home to for the production of this film where she was charged with looking after seven ne’er-do-well children! ?



100GG Badge CMYK-white-background4. Glencoe

Glencoe caldera

Glencoe. Image Credit – Gil Cavalcanti, Wikipedia.

Wouldn’t be surprised if Hollywood had this winning geosite on speed dial given the number of blockbusters that have been filmed here, we’re looking for 3 big movies that have been filmed here (clue, one was mentioned in an earlier geosites blogpost….)



 100GG Badge CMYK-white-background5. Malham Cove

Limestone pavement at Malham Cove. Image Credit - Lupin, Wikipedia.

Limestone pavement at Malham Cove. Image Credit – Lupin, Wikipedia.

If Glencoe is the daddy, this one is a close second in film location-geosites match ups! This epic 8-part film series filmed one of its  scenes where two of the characters set up camp on Malham Cove’s limestone pavement. But who was it and it which of the 8-parts did it feature?




100GG Badge CMYK-white-background6. Durdle Door (part of Lulworth)


Durdle Door. Image Credit – W. Lloyd MacKenzie, Wikipedia.

Durdle Door was just one of the backdrops for this biographical film about a famous British author (whose birthday it is today!). It featured a whole host of national-treasure British actors including one ‘quite important’ one!



100GG Badge CMYK-white-background7. The Storr, Isle of Skye (part of Trotternish)


The Storr – Isle of Skye. Image Credit – George Widman, Wikipedia.

The epic, otherworldly landscapes of the Isle of Skye were recently used as part of this big budget science fiction film. It was used as a location where two scientists find ancient cave paintings which lead them on a journey into deep space, but what film is it?

(May or may not be famed for this quote…. Look, I’m just a geologist. I like rocks. I LOVE… rocks. Though it’s clear you two don’t give a shit about rocks but what you do seem to care about is gigantic dead bodies. And though I don’t really have anything to contribute in the gigantic DEAD BODY ARENA… I’m gonna go back to the ship. If you don’t mind.)

8. Marloes Beach


Marloes Beach during shooting for the mystery film! Image Credit – Martin McDowell, Wikipedia.

Marloes Beach was used in the recent dark re-telling of this Brothers Grimm fairytale, but which story was it?





9. Stanage Edge

Stanage Edge

Stanage Edge. Image Credit – Rob Bendall, Wikipedia.

This beautiful lookout in the heart of the Peak District was famously used in which British film of a literary classic starring a certain Keira Knightley….




10. Hartland Quay

Hartland Quay

Hartland Quay. Image Credit – Humphrey Bolton, Geograph.

The crazy folded formations found along the coast at Hartland Quay were used for the filming of which 50′s era film of a childhood classic tale?






100GG Badge CMYK-white-background11. Mourne Mountains


Mountains of Mourne. Image Credit – Marksie531, Wikipedia.

The beautiful landscape of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland is home to not only filming of the answer to the first question but also a recent heart wrenching tale about a mother who had lost contact with her child several decades earlier, but which films it it?



100GG Badge CMYK-white-background12. Arthur’s Seat & the Salisbury Crags


Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh. Image Credit – Kim Traynor, Wikipedia.

The beautiful vista seen from the top of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags was used as a romantic spot for ‘a day’ for a couple in which popular British film?



100GG Badge CMYK-white-background

Hadrian's Wall. Image Credit - Michael Hanselmann, Wikipedia.

Hadrian’s Wall. Image Credit – Michael Hanselmann, Wikipedia.

13. Hadrian’s Wall/Great Whin Sill

Hadrian’s Wall, and the Great Whin Sill it is built upon was used in the filming in this 90′s blockbuster about a Nottingham hero…..





  • as you’ve probably figured out by now, we totally do give a geosite.
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Earth Science Week: Ask a Geologist Live!







Day three of Earth Science Week is nearly over, and geowalks, events and talks have been going on across the country! Visit our website for what’s still coming up.

Online, we’ve been holding Ask a Geologist sessions daily, and have already had some great questions!

On Monday, Bethan Davies of Royal Holloway answered queries about glaciers, Antarctica and climate change.

Questions ranged from how to get a career in glaciology underway, to the colours of glaciers, sea level change and what the effects of climate change will be on Antarctic species.  

Yesterday it was the turn of University of Manchester’s Phil Manning, for a barrage of questions about dinosaurs! We had lots of favourites, including this from @ChrisPBrough


And today Matt Genge from Imperial College took over, answering questions about meteorites, cosmic dust, geology in space, and his dream field trip location!  

We also learned about Tunguska, Pluto, and what would be Matt’s most surprising find on Comet 67P

There’s still two more Ask a Geologist sessions to go, so make sure you get your questions in!

Tomorrow, David Pyle from the University of Oxford will be answering your questions about volcanoes, and how we predict them, and on Friday Victoria Herridge  (@toriherridge) from the Natural History Museum is taking over, for questions about fossils, dwarf elephants, evolution and Trowel Blazing female geologists in history! All you need to do is tweet using the #AskaGeologist hashtag, or leave a comment below.

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Earth Science Week: Geobingo and the 100 geosites nominations






Day 2 of Earth Science Week saw events happening across the country, from Fort William to Northern Ireland, as well continued coverage of our #100geosites project.

Don’t forget, as well as the 100 sites on the final list, there’s over 400 nominated geosites in the UK & Ireland you can visit! The full list of nominations is on our flickr pages, with some great inspiration for days out – let us know if you visit any.

Some of the nominations feature on our #geobingo cards – so if you do visit an area which features a large number of geosites, check to see if we have a card! Take a picture of yourself at the sites and send it to us to enter our prize draw.

So far, the Peak District, London, Scarborough, the Hebrides, Bristol and Snowdonia have their very own geobingo cards – and there are more to come!

geobingo screen shot

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Earth Science Week: Launch of the 100 Great Geosites list!






Happy Earth Science Week! We’re thrilled to launch our list of 100 Great UK and Ireland Geosites, to mark this year’s Earth Science Week.

It’s the culmination of a seven month project, which saw over 400 public nominations for your favourite geosites. Split into 10 categories, the list reflects the incredible geodiversity of the UK & Ireland, and how it links to our wider history.

Events are taking place all week to celebrate Earth Science Week, and there’s lots of ways to join in. Join a geowalk, attend a talk, visit your local museum or some of the 100 Great Geosite nominations near you, with our geobingo challenge!

We’d love to hear from you during the week – get in touch with us on twitter using #ESW14, share your photos or videos, and let us know how you’re celebrating.

Visit the Interactive Map

map screen shot

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Ask a Geologist LIVE!






Earth Science Week is nearly upon us, and there’s a huge range of activities going on across the UK & Ireland!

There’s also lots going on online, including a brand new project we’re really excited about….

Ask a Geologist Live!

On Monday – Friday of Earth Science Week, five brilliant scientists have agreed to field questions about their research – all you have to do is tweet using the #askageologist hashtag, or get in touch with us in advance with your question and we’ll ask it for you.

The Ask a Geologist schedule:

c. Bethan Davies

c. Bethan Davies

Monday 13th, 12pm – 1pm: Bethan Davies, Centre for Quarternary Research, Royal Holloway

Bethan is a glaciologist, interested in glacier response to climate change and sea level rise in Antarctica, and the last glaciation of Britain. Read more about her research on her Antarctic Glaciers website.


c. Phil Manning

c. Phil Manning

Tuesday 14th, 1pm – 2pm: Phil Manning, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Enviromental Sciences, University of Manchester

Phil is a Professor of Natural History and STFC Science in Society Fellow, whose research includes the National Geographic Dinosaur Mummy project, and the Fumanya Dinosaur Trackway LiDAR Project.


Matt Genge

c. Matt Genge

Wednesday 15th, 1pm – 2pm: Matt Genge, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London

Matt studies meteorites, cosmic dust and planetary science. He also runs the Imperial College Rock Library on petrology and researches igneous rocks and volcanoes. Matt recently wrote a regular “Ask the Scientist” column for the magazine “Science Uncovered”.


c. David Pyle

c. David Pyle

Thursday 16th, 4pm – 5pm: David Pyle, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

David is a volcanologist, who has worked on young and active volcanoes around the world. Currently, his main research interests focus on reconstructing what happened during past eruptions, and using this information to help to prepare for future activity.
His recent or ongoing projects include, and


Victoria Herridge

c. Victoria Herridge

Friday 17th, 1pm – 2pm: Victoria Herridge, The Natural History Museum

Victoria is an expert in fossil elephants, especially dwarf elephants that once lived on Mediterranean islands. She also studies evolution and the Ice Age, and is a founder of TrowelBlazers – a site devoted to cool women from history who made amazing geological and palaeontological discoveries.


How to get involved

To ask questions of any of our experts in advance, leave a comment below or drop us an email at

Or join in live on twitter during the timeslots above, and tag your question #askageologist!


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Geological Society signs Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

sciencecouncil_logo_rgbLARGEThe Geological Society has today made a commitment to improving diversity within the geosciences by signing the Science Council’s Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

The Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion brings together the Geological Society with other learned and professional bodies from across the sciences to work towards increased diversity and inclusion in science education and careers. The Declaration states that:

“By promoting equality, diversity and inclusion the Science Council and its member bodies will create greater opportunity for any individual to fulfil their scientific potential, irrespective of their background or circumstances. In so doing it will also help science to better serve society by attracting the widest possible talent to the science workforce and fostering a greater diversity of scientific ideas, research and technology.”

Science Council diversity

GSL Executive Secretary Edmund Nickless and Council member Natalyn Ala signing the declaration

Global health needs, an ageing population, food and water security and achieving low carbon economies are all driving up demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills. Despites this, there is an estimated annual shortfall in domestic supply of around 40,000 new STEM skilled workers². Improving diversity at all levels of the science workforce is key to meeting this challenge.

It remains the case that women, disabled people, those from ethnic minorities and from socially disadvantaged groups are consistently underrepresented in STEM, particularly at senior levels². Black and minority ethnic (BME) men are 28% less likely to work in STEM than their white counterparts², disabled students 57% less likely to take up postgraduate STEM study than non-disabled students², and there is a gap of 26% between women and men in science, engineering and technology employment³.

“The influence and potential leadership of professional bodies means they are critical effectors of change within the science community,” said Tom Blundell, President of the Science Council. “By signing the Declaration they are showing that they will use that influence to ensure the science workforce is open to everyone.”

To read the Science Council Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in full and find out more about this initiative, go to


  1. Current and Future UK science workforce, Science Council, 2011
  2. Improving Diversity in STEM, CaSE, 2014
  3. Women and men in science, engineering and technology: the UK statistics guide 2010, UKRC, 2010


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