Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Building Stones of Clifton – A Walking Trail

In my opinion, there aren’t many finer ways to spend an autumnal afternoon than ambling round the historical suburb of Clifton in Bristol. Bounded to the west by the dramatic limestone cliffs of the Avon Gorge and the bucolic open downs of Clifton and Durdham, Clifton Village is a Bristol rarity, in only having been only partly subsumed by the neighbouring metropolis.

Clifton is home to many fine Georgian mansions, remnants of the development of a fashionable spa resort that sought to exploit the health properties believed to be present in the Hotwell spring water.

So if you’re new to Bristol, or just need an excuse to get out of the office, why not take a look?

The following material was originally posted on the Avon RIGS blog.


A thirty-minute ramble through 350 million years of geological time

The trail includes five stops within Clifton and is approximately 1.5km long (blue trail). Optional sixth stop is an additional 1 km (pink trail). Begin at Clifton Hill House, Lower Clifton Hill, BS8 1BX

The trail includes five stops within Clifton and is approximately 1.5km long (blue trail).
Optional sixth stop is an additional 1 km (pink trail). Begin at Clifton Hill House, Lower Clifton Hill, BS8 1BX

Lakes and lahars at Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu is the largest mountain on the North Island of New Zealand. As well as being a popular ski resort, Ruapehu is an active andesitic stratovolcano. Formed approximately 200,000 years ago, activity is currently confined to the Crater Lake vent; this deep depression fills with water from snow melt between eruptive episodes.

Skiing on Mt Ruapehu, North Island, New Zealand. Photo credit: Airflore

Skiing on Mt Ruapehu, North Island, New Zealand. The name ‘Ruapehu’ is Māori for ‘exploding pit’. Photo credit: Airflore

Similarly to the recent eruption of Mount Ontake in Japan, Ruapehu has been known to erupt without warning. In September 2007, the volcano produced a sudden blast of steam and debris in a minor phreatic eruption, trapping two climbers who were near the vent at the time and generating mud and ice slurries from the resultant meltwater.

On this snow-capped peak, the biggest threat to skiers from such unexpected phreatic events is the production of large lahars by collapse of Crater Lake. Understandably, GNS (the country’s geological survey) have taken a number of measures to try and protect the tourists that flock to Ruapehu during the ski season.

The volcano is monitored using 2 web cameras, 10 seismographs, 6 microphones and 9 continuous GPS stations. The temperature of Crater Lake is regularly measured, and GNS conduct airborne gas surveys. Most importantly for skiers, the eastern flanks of the volcano are guarded by ERLAWS, a lahar warning system which gives skiers up to five minutes warning of an impending lahar.

Yet, notwithstanding this battery of monitoring equipment, we should remember that Ruapehu has the potential to catch us all by surprise.

Alumnus profile #6 – Dr Sam Engwell

DSC_0500Dr Sam Engwell

Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher, INGV

PhD title “Dynamics and Deposits of Large Explosive Eruptions”

 

 


1) The Twitter Challenge: Describe your PhD in 140 characters

Investigation of eruption processes during supereruptions by analysis of deposits in deep-sea sediments.

Deep sea core

Deposits from the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption can be found over 1000km away from the eruption source in deep sea cores. Photo credit: Sam Engwell

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Science Snap (#33): Earth Science Week

James Hickey is a PhD student in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. A geophysicist and volcanologist by trade, his PhD project is focussed on attempting to place constraints on volcanic unrest using integrated geodetic modelling.

Earth Science Week is an international initiative to promote the great work that goes on in the geoscience community. It encompasses a huge range of topics; from dinosaurs to glaciers, and volcanoes to meteorites. There’s something for everybody. For an overview of how geoscience can have a positive influence on local communities and save lives, check out this video from the AGU:

For Earth Science Week, events are taking place here in the UK, organised by the Geological Society, as well as across the Atlantic in the US, where the American Geosciences Institute are coordinating things. To get an idea of the sorts of activities that are happening and see where you can get involved, you can check out their websites here and here.

So far my favourite initiative has been the release of the 100 top ‘Geosites’ in the UK. This list, compiled by the Geological Society and voted on by members of the general public, represents the best the UK has to offer in various geological categories (e.g. landscapes, adventurous, educational, and so on). You can view the ‘Geosites’ in an interactive map, and there are some great pictures to flick through in a BBC News article.

Precariously balanced, these are the Brimham rocks in North Yorkshire, part of the top 100 'Geosites' in the UK. Image credit: BBC News.

Seemingly precariously balanced, these are the Brimham rocks in North Yorkshire, part of the top 100 ‘Geosites’ in the UK. Image credit: BBC News.