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November 2009

Ussher - in a new era

Geoscientist 19.9 November 2009

W A E UssherThe Ussher Society, named after the geologist W A E Ussher, was formed in 1962 and promotes geoscience research in South West of England and related areas. The Society publishes the annual double refereed journal Geoscience in South-West England, which includes papers on geology, geomorphology, engineering and environmental geology. The archive of back issues is a substantial resource covering much of the geoscience research undertaken in the region over the last fifty years. The Society is happy to announce that all of the papers published between 1962 and 2002 are now freely available to download in pdf from its website. More recent papers are available free to members of the Society. The next Annual Conference is in Plymouth between the 3rd and the 6th of January 2010, and generous financial support is available to students who present new research results relating to the SW region.

See for details.

Duncan Pirrie

Hot potato

Geologists often get brought “strange objects” – most of which turn out to be not strange at all. However…

Joe McCall writes: A friend recently brought to me a strange pebble, picked up near Germany’s border with the Netherlands. It consisted of a flat, tabular core of brown flint, about two centimetres long, surrounded by black flint. The core was probably not an artefact and the assemblage likely represented a two-stage concretion, originally within chalk, but later tumbled in a river. So far, so ordinary.

However, Eric Robinson adds an interesting historical postscript. During the first World War, the Germans used such black flints to construct pill-boxes on the Western Front. Such black flints come from the Rhine system; the Scheldt system (in Belgium) does not carry them. This gave rise to doubts about the supposed neutrality of the Netherlands. True, they might have been sourced from the German stretches of the Rhine, but would the Germans transport aggregates over such large distances to the front? Could the flints have been purchased from the “neutral” Netherlands?