Product has been added to the basket

Glories of Mud

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.


Year of Mud

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


Event Details

Date: 21 January 2015

Venue: The Geological Society, Burlington House, London

Speaker: David Manning


Reading List 

Post-Lecture Podcast

David Manning - Glories of Mud