Overseas Field Meetings

The Geologists’ Association organizes a number of overseas field meetings.

To download the latest GA Circular with details of forthcoming field trips and diary events of our local and affiliated geological societies, please click here.

If you would like further information on any of the events below, please contact Sarah Stafford at the GA Office on 020 7434 9298 or by e-mail at: fieldmeetings@geologistsassociation.org.uk.


Late Cenozoic evolution of the Yellow River and its environs - China
September 2017

Expressions of interest are requested to d.r.bridgland@durham.ac.uk

A detailed overview can be downloaded here.

Meeting Organisers/Leaders/advisors:
Hu Zhenbo, Wang Xianyan, Pan Boatian, David Bridgland, Jef Vandenberghe

Meeting Theme: Late Cenozoic evolution of the Yellow River and its environs.

Meeting Format: Combined (1 day conference plus a seven-day field excursion)

Proposed Meeting Dates:
second week of September 2017 (start ~10/9/17)

Meeting Location:
Lanzhou University and a ‘travelling field-excursion upstream and downstream in the Yellow River

Estimated numbers: 20–30, including Chinese

Likely cost per head: Flights to/from China (Lanzhou) + £800.00, including all meals, transport and accommodation. Breakdown: conference meals - £100; conference accommodation - £200; field trip travel - £150; field trip meals - £100; field trip accommodation - £250

Accommodation arrangements:
University hotel in Lanzhou; suitable hotels in various places on field trip

Timings and deadlines:
Preliminary registration December 1st 2016; Final registration: May 1st 2017
Payment and abstract submission: June 1st 2017

The meeting will comprise one day of lectures at Lanzhou University, plus a week’s excursion (by minibus) on the theme of the Late Cenozoic evolution of the Upper–Middle reaches of the Yellow River, including the fluvial sequence, the loess of the region through which the river flows, Miocene–Quaternary lacustrine environments at Lake Qinghai (the largest inland lake in China) on the Tibetan Plateau and the relation of this (and related lakes) to the evolution of the fluvial system, as well as glacial evidence in the upper reaches of the system on the Tibetan Plateau. There is ample scope for visits to cultural sites, including preserved water wheels along the Yellow River and a fine geological and cultural heritage museum in Lanzhou and the Taer Monastery and temples, ~25 km from Xining.

Lanzhou, the capital and largest city of Gansu Province (NW China), is situated in the upper reaches of the Yellow River (as well as on the old 'Silk Road' connecting China to Central Asia, Mongolia and the Middle East). The city is located at the western margin of the Chinese Loess Plateau. The Mongolian Plateau is to the north and Gobi-sand desert field to the northwest, while the Tibetan Plateau lies to the west and south. The area around the city has the thickest aeolian loess accumulation (>300 m thick) and the oldest aeolian dust (older than 21 Ma) in the world. There are sections in river terraces in the vicinity of Lanzhou, overlain by huge thicknesses of loess, with multiple palaeosols. A further highlight on the excursion will be Jingtai Yellow River Stone Forest National Geopark, located 160 km downstream from Lanzhou city. The geoheritage interests here are largely geomorphological, although the bedrock in which the landforms are sculpted plays a prominent role: late Cenozoic fluvial sandstone and conglomerate, many tens of metres thick, emplaced in a subsiding fault-bounded basin before incision of the landscape by the Yellow River began. There is thus a clear link with the evolution of the Yellow River system, with this ‘basin inversion’ probably occurring in the late Early Pleistocene (a theme resonant with that concerning the Tibetan Plateau basins). The Yellow River has formed a curving cliff in the edge of the basin fill sediments, its course following the northern bounding fault. An impressive meandering gorge, ‘Yinma Great Gorge’, has been formed where a left-bank tributary has kept pace with the incision by the Yellow River, but it is the myriad of tributaries of this gorge, highly sinuous and steeply incised, that define the pinnacles (hoodoos) of the ‘stone forest’.

Summer is the monsoonal rainfall season, although the annual precipitation is only ~400 mm. The summer temperature is around 25 °C. Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport (LHW) is located about 70 km (45 miles) from the city centre. About 30 airlines connect Lanzhou to more than 20 major cities in China (see map). It takes roughly an hour from the airport to Lanzhou University by the airport shuttle bus ($5 @ 30 RMB per person). The cost for a taxi is about £3.50 (@160 RMB).

Proposed field trip itinerary
Day 1 – early fast train to Xining; Visit to high terrace site with views across the valley. Pre-incision high-level gravels unrelated to modern drainage and possibly older than Tibetan Plateau uplift. Discussion of pre-Quaternary evolution of the landscape. Visit to Pingan sections in ?alluvial fan deposits beyond mouth of Xiakou Gorge. Discussion of origin of sediments, alluvial fan generation and relation to valley evolution. Possible visit to low terrace site (dependant on building progress).

PM visit to Taer Monastery and temples. Overnight at Xining

Day 2 – Early departure for Qinghai Lake via the Huang Shui valley and possible former lake outlet; viewing of lake-side dunes, fluvial inflow sediments and across the corner of the lake. Discussion of age and former size of lake (Gonghe–Gui De–Qinghai palaeo-lake; palaeoclimate evidence at various timescales (Miocene to post-LGM) and relation to fluvial evolution.

Travel through the Qinghai Nan Shan mountains into the Duolong valley (tributary of the Yellow River) with glacial sediments and landforms. Discussion of age and affinities in connection with ideas of a Tibetan Plateau ice sheet; also glacial outwash feeding into the Yellow River system.

Views of the Gonghe basin fill, with later terraces, and the Longyang Gorge, formed since 150 ka (according to cosmogenic isotope dating) through granitic (Mesozoic granodiorite) bedrock separating the Gonghe and Guide basins. Discussion of dating and basin/fluvial evolution, including knickpoints.
Drive to accommodation at Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture through classic Badlands scenery eroded into the soft Gonghe basin-fill sediments.

Day 3 – Terraces of the Yellow River above Longyangxia Reservoir, based on mapping and dating by Perrineau et al. (2011) and ongoing work by the Lanzhou team. A staircase of at least eleven (four more than were numbered by Perrineau et al.) terrace gravels are well exposed in road cuts and quarries, cut into Gonghe Basin infill sediments and with minimal (if any) aeolian overburden. The gravels are well bedded, with sand incursions and a characteristic quartzose–crystalline (dominantly granitic) lithological suite, also with sandstones, fossiliferous limestones and porphyries. The Perrineau et al. dating suggests that the entire sequence has formed since 250 ka. Discussion of terrace formation mechanisms and ages; also basin inversion.

Travel to Gui De Basin via section in Daotang River deposits (direction reversal from east to west; opposite to present). Stop opposite Gui De power station to look at terrace staircase. Travel to right-bank high-point to view valley upstream, terrace staircases and severe gulley erosion. Discussion of terrace staircase age and formation; also rapidity of erosion and relation to uplift. Overnight at Gui De.

Day 4 – Travel downstream via Gui De geopark and Songba Gorge. Discussion of geoheritage, geological evolution of basin systems and fluvial incision of inter-basin gorges. Drive over mountains to the lower end of Lijia Reservoir, downstream of the Songba Gorge. Terrace staircase of Yellow River with high-level thick gravel and evidence for incision in parallel with gorge formation. Discussion of terrace formation and ages; also distinction between terrace and basin-fill sediments.

Visit viewpoints above the reservoir, showing relation between basement, basin deposits and the fluvial sequence and landforms. Discussion of these relationships. Drive to Pingan town for accommodation.

Day 5 – Sites in the Huang Shui valley downstream toward the confluence with the Yellow River. Sites near Ledu (thick gravel in an active quarry) and two at Minhe (thick gravel in a road cut and a fault and terrace gravels by the river near a railway bridge - can be viewed from the road bridge). Discussion of sediment origins and environments of deposition.

Terrace gravel with ?palaeosol and overbank deposits at Xinzhuang villey and a visit to the Yellow River - Huang Shui confluence, with terraces of both rivers visible and sediments accessible, above basin-fill red clays. Finally, if time permits, a visit to a fault within folded basement sandstones at Hekou, overlain by Yellow River terrace sediments. Further discussion of sediment origins and environments of deposition; also of basin formation and relation to tectonic history.

Day 6 – Yellow River terraces and loess cover around Lanzhou. Gravels beneath very thick loess, often picked out by quarrying in ‘adit’ caves for stones to cover fields; also highest-level sites with good landscape views. Discussion of terrace and loess deposition and ages; also landscape evolution and formation of the Yellow River valley.

Day 7 – Excursion to ‘Stone Forest’ geopark (Yellow River valley downstream of Lanzhou, at Jintai). Geoheritage site with various interests (see article in Earth Heritage No. 45, 28–9: www.earthheritage.org.uk). Classic Badlands landforms developed in basin-fill sediments that pre-date incision of this valley reach by the Yellow River. Incised meandering gorge of a Yellow River tributary, the ‘Yinma Great Gorge’, which as kept pace with the down-cutting by the main river. Discussion of relevance to the evolution of the Yellow River, especially in comparison with the upstream areas visited; also discussion of geoheritage management and public consumption and recreation use.

Optional additional excursion
(to leave from Lanzhou after main meeting ends):

3-day trip to the upland Danxia landscape and present-day glaciers at Zhangye. This stand-alone extra trip would use the fast train from Lanzhou. This potential cost is about £300 (travel, food and accommodation included).


Joint OUGS and GA, Geological and Archaeological trip to the Teke Peninsula of Lycia in Southern Turkey
11th to 21st April 2018.
Leaders Professor David Bridgland and Dr Robert Westaway.

This is the 4th time I have run this successful and popular trip and the third time David and Rob have led it. The previous 3 times were just for OUGS and a write up in the OUGS national newsletter September 2014 can be accessed through the OUGS website. The area covered is the Lycian Region of South West Turkey, an area laid down in the Cretaceous times and shaped by the closure of the Tethys Ocean thrusting ocean floor overland in two opposing directions. The trip has been extended by a day to incorporate evidence of the recent discovery of a meteorite impact, creating the formation of Kaş Bay. If you have never visited Turkey before this is an excellent opportunity to discover the fabulous hospitality of the people, great food, fascinating cultural and archaeological history, along with an array of very interesting geological features. Oh and then there is the weather!!

Information on the hotels and most of the sites mentioned in the itinerary below can be found on line. A more comprehensive itinerary will be sent later.

Suggested reading ‘Archaeology and Geology of Lycia Southern Turkey’ by Dr Jill Eyers. (Rocks Afoot field guide series)

Cost will be dependent on numbers in the group. With a minimum of 10 persons it will be £845 per person and with a maximum of 20 persons it will be £595 per person, without flights based on shared accommodation. This cost includes 10 nights B&B, transfers to and from the airport (if arriving with the main group) 2 dinners and 1 lunch, Coach and driver, Turkish guide and three leaders, and entry to all ancient sites. A single supplement of £100 will be added for those not wanting shared accommodation.

Please contact me, Alison Ure, if you have any questions or are interested in coming on this great trip. alijoure@hotmail.com 01580 752018.

Personal travel insurance is a necessity for this trip however Turkey is deemed as being in Europe with most insurance companies!

A visa will be needed but this is a 2 minute online process costing around 20$.

Please note that despite recent political issues in Turkey the area visited on this trip is very safe and is a long way away from any troublesome borders.

Proposed itinerary: subject to change.

Day 1: Flight to Antalya, Transfer to The Atelya Hotel in the Old town of Antalya.

Currently Suggested flight, Easy Jet, from Gatwick at 15.35, arriving in Antalya 22.55 (This may change for April 2018)

Day 2: Free day to explore the Old Town of Antalya originally founded by the Romans. Welcome dinner.

Hotel: Atelya Art Hotel, Antalya.

Day 3: Am: Overview discussion about the area to be covered during the trip with the help of geological maps, followed by a drive to Kırk Göz to observe and discuss the processes of the formation of the Antalya plain, travertine, and surrounding limestone mountains.

Pm: Antalya museum which gives a clear history of the area including several ancient sites to be visited.

Hotel: Atelya Art Hotel, Antalya.

Day 4: Am: Black rock at Kumluca, ophiolitic outcrop followed by Phaselis an ancient site made up of three harbours. An unconformity of travertine sitting above ophiolitic rock will be observed from the roadside.

Pm: Chimera everlasting flames, which have been burning for over 2000yrs, is a 2km walk up steps.

Hotel: Phellos, Kaş.

Day 5: Am: Observation and discussion of the Kasaba Lineament and Kasaba Valley before entering the Dirgenler gorge and visiting limestone quarries followed by a visit to St Nicholas church during the lunch break

Pm: Visit to Myra an ancient site with amazing Rock tombs from the Lycian age and a beautifully preserved Roman theatre followed by the Lycian Museum set in a Roman Grain store by the ancient harbour of Andriake now a silted up wetland.

Hotel: Phellos, Kaş.

Day 6: Ferry trip (30mins) to the Greek Island of Kastellorizo on the opposite side of Kaş bay. Here, weather permitting, there will be a boat trip to a large sea cave followed by a walk to view evidence of the newly discovered geological process that formed Kaş Bay: a meteorite impact!

Hotel: Phellos, Kaş.

Day 7: Am: Crystal walk, a 4km walk to view an unusual outcrop of calcite and aragonite.

Pm: Kekova sunken city, a boat trip observing the results of two earthquakes 100years apart

Hotel: Phellos, Kaş

Day 8: Am: Visit to Xanthos ancient site, capital of Lycian region, followed by Saklikent gorge.

Pm: Following the fault line from the head of the gorge we a visit Girmeler caves and thermal springs.

Hotel: Muzzy’s Place, Kayaköy, Greek ghost town.

Day 9: Am: Walk from Kayaköy to Oludeniz 6/7km over the mountains with a variety of different rocks from black breccia of the Tefenni thrust (re-crystallised limestone), black dolomitic limestone, and some schists.

Pm: Opportunity to observe a section of the Köyceğiz thrust showing different thicknesses of limestone beds, tension gashes and chert nodules on the beach. A drive up to Butterfly Valley where a copybook anticline can be observed along with an awesome 400m wall of seriously multi folded and reverse thrusted red shale’s interlayered with limestone.

Hotel: Muzzy’s Place, Kayaköy.

Day 10: Am: Driving down the old road we stop briefly at Telmessos ancient site before going hunting for chromite ore in a road cutting. We then travel over the mountain road inland from Fethyie to Antalya, a drive of such intense geological interest it could be a 7 day trip in itself!

Pm: The last stop is Karain cave the oldest settlement in Turkey, evidence of Palaeolithic habitation dating back to 150,000/200,000yrs ago, including Neanderthal. Farewell dinner.

Hotel: Atelya, Antalya

Day 11: Free morning: to pick up souvenirs and gifts.

12:00: depart hotel to visit Perge an ancient site and Kurşunlu waterfall where we observe travertine formation.

18:00/18:30 dropped off at Antalya airport for 20:00 check in and 22:20 flight returning to Gatwick.