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The Geology of Britain in the Palaeozoic, the Era of Early Life

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A regional look at the history of Britain 550-250 million years ago, how the rocks formed and the evolution of early life

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Join Martin Eales, Consultant Geologist & Geophysicist and member of Sutton U3A, for an online talk followed by a Q&A and discussion session.

A 300 million year historical walk through the era of ancient life from 550 to 250 million years. Complex life, as we would recognise it, has only existed on the earth for around 550 million years. Geologists divide this time interval into three eras: the Palaeozoic (Greek for ancient life), Mesozoic (middle life) and the Cenozoic (new life). At the start of the Palaeozoic there was an evolutionary burst, but 300 million years later there was the great extinction event when around 95% of species perished.

Most of the rocks of Southern Scotland, Wales, Northern and Western England are of Palaeozoic age. In this talk, we will walk through the rocks of Britain starting when Scotland was at the equator separated by some 4000 km of ocean from England which lay near to the south pole. Rocks formed in cold deep oceans, warm shallow seas, equatorial jungles and hot deserts as the climate and landmasses changed. It was also a period of vast mountain building, volcanism, and coal formation. Life evolved from trilobites to amphibians to reptiles, and plants colonised the land to form huge rain forests.

Martin Eales was educated at Emmanuel College Cambridge then researched for a doctorate and lectured at Glasgow University. He has been a petroleum geologist for 40 years including working for the largest oil companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy, and also lived in North Africa and the Middle East. In that time, he has studied the geology of most countries in the world and now works part time advising companies and banks on the value of their oil assets. He is married with 3 children and 1 dog.

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