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Glories of Mud

21 January 2015
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Geological Society Events
The Geological Society, Burlington House
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2015 is the Year of Mud, an opportunity for us to celebrate that most common of materials. Geologists love mud – it represents both an end and a beginning. An end, because it comes at the end of the cycle of erosion and transport, the consequences of processes that take place on land. A beginning, because it changes during sediment burial and diagenesis, and as it does so it generates materials that we value, and have valued throughout the history of the human race. This talk will explore the benefits of mud, past and present, to our well-being and prosperity.

Watch the Video


David Manning

GSL President & University of Newcastle

I’ve been a geologist all my life, following an interest that started at a very early age. I learnt much from field work in the Peak District when I was still at school, and then went on to Durham University to read Geology in the days when Sir Malcolm Brown was the Head of Department, before he went on to lead the British Geological Survey. That shows my age.

After a wonderful time in Durham (mapping on Rum), I moved to Manchester for my PhD (another wonderful time) which was in experimental petrology – preparing the phase diagram for the system Qz-Ab-Or with added fluorine, or (in other words) establishing how fluorine affects the crystallization of granitic melts. To keep my feet on the ground I did field work in the china clay areas of Cornwall (where F-rich granites occur), and that introduced me to commercial clay geology. I’ve kept that up throughout my career.

Postdoctoral fellowships followed – in Manchester (NERC) and then in France (CRPG, Nancy), with experimental work on metal partitioning (tin, tungsten) between granite melt and vapour, and field work in Thailand and Cornwall. Then a few months out of work (but not idle) while waiting to start a New Blood lectureship at Newcastle, and the rest is history as they say. That post involved research on how petroleum source rocks can also be metal ore sources, again experimentally-focused.The Earth Science Review enabled me to move in 1988 to Manchester, with research focusing on clay diagenesis in petroleum systems.

Frustrated by an inability to visit a real drilling rig to take oilfield water samples I went to a local landfill and found what I was looking for there – so I worked on landfill clay reactions. Then, in 2000, my evident trajectory to the surface culminated in taking the Chair in Soil Science at Newcastle University, where I work on mineral reactions in soils, reactions associated with carbon capture and nutrient availability for plant growth. Paradoxically, that has taken me into the world of syenites, and their potential as fertilisers. I’m also closely involved with deep geothermal drilling, so mud is still very much part of my daily life.

Event information

The talk will be given twice on the same day, once at 3pm and once at 6pm – please note that if you would like to attend the talks, the 3pm matinees generally have more availability. The talks will be exactly the same in the afternoon and evening.

Entry to the lectures is free to all, but places are allocated on a ballot basis. To enter the ballot please complete the ballot form ( or email [email protected] and state the number of tickets required and whether you would prefer to attend the 3pm or the 6pm lecture, by Monday 12 January 2015.

Programme – 3pm talk
2:30pm Tea & Coffee
3pm Lecture begins
4pm Event ends

Programme – 6pm talk
5:30pm Tea & Coffee
6pm Lecture begins
7pm Short drinks reception
8pm Event ends

Please note that the doors to Burlington House will close at 6.15pm and you will not be able to enter the building after this time. 


Year of Mud

Find out about the Year of Mud, and other themed events in 2015

Geolsoc Contact

The Geological Society

The Geological Society
Burlington House