The Micropalaeontological Society

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TMS AGM 2012 and Warm Worlds Symposium

Sunday 11th – Tuesday 13th November 2012
The British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham

Namibia Phytoplankton Sun

Update (25th October 2012):
The third meeting circular is now available to download (pdf 4.2Mb), including an update talks programme, poster sizes, talk times and general logistics. Please note that the registration/abstract submission deadlines have been extended until the end of October.

A report of this meeting is available in TMS newsletter 87.

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Microfossil Palaeobiogeography and Plate Tectonics – a tribute to Alfred Wegener

The meeting was held at UCL, London on Wednesday 16th November 2011. A report of the meeting is available for download (34kb .doc) and full asbtracts of the talks presented may be found in TMS newsletter 84.

Quaternary to Recent Records of Environmental Change

The 40th Anniversary AGM of TMS

Wednesday 17th November 2010, 13.30
Pearson Lecture Theatre – University College London

A report of this meeting is available for download here (MS Word document, 40kb).

Microfossils and Evolution

18th November, 2009
Room 1.06, Roberts Engineering Building, University College London

Following the conclusion of Society business, Michal Kucera and David Lazarus introduced an excellent series of talks on the topic of Microfossils and Evolution, celebrating the Darwin Bicentenary.

The first speaker was David Bass from the Natural History Museum, London, whose title had evolved from his original one into ‘The Nth eukaryotic ‘supergroup’ and the evolutionary and ecological complexity of the Rhizaria’.  David entertained us with comparisons between the eukaryote ‘bush of life’ and ‘tree of life’ and presented some interesting new data from 454 sequencing of DNA libraries.

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Microfossils and Extinction

19th November, 2008, 1.15pm
J. Z. Young Lecture Theatre, University College London

Download jpg poster (96kb)
Download programme and abstracts pdf (308kb)

Nils Chr. Stenseth & Lee Hsiang Liow – Macroecological and macroevolutionary dynamics of marine plankton inferred through microfossils

Guy Harrington – Paratropical floral extinction in the Late Palaeocene-Early Eocene

Paul Bown – The roller-coaster ride of Paleogene coccolithophore evolution: from mass extinction to peak diversity and back!

Helen Coxall – Forams and extinction: forces and feedbacks in marine ecosystems

Alan Lord & Ian Boomer – The extinction of the Metacopina – a major event in ostracod history

Sabrina Renaud & Catherine Girard – Conodont strategies facing environmental perturbations leading to mass extinction

Presentation of TMS Brady Medal to Professor Katharina von Salis. Presented by Professor Michal Kucera.

Presentation of Charles Downie Award 2008 to Dr Kirsty M. Edgar

Following the lectures, members of the Society were invited to a wine reception in the North Cloister, generously sponsored by PetroStrat Ltd 

Micropalaeontological Heroes

7th November, 2007, 1pm
Lecture Theatre 1, Cruciform Building, University College London

Download jpg poster (1.5MB)
Download programme and abstracts pdf (428kb)

Held in association with the Geological Society, the meeting focused on ‘Micropalaeontological Heroes’ – worthies who helped found the discipline of micropalaeontology, the scientific contributions that they made and the relevance of their discoveries for current research. The 2007 AGM was TMS’s contributed to the bicentennial celebrations of the Geological Society.

  • Prof. Simon J. Knell – The contentious vertebrate: Christian Pander and the conodont in the nineteenth century.
  • Prof. John Marshall – Arthur Raistrick, Dalesman of the Millennium and palynologist
  • Dr Jeremy Young – The slow discovery of coccolithophores, from Ehrenberg to Lohmann via SorbyWallich and Huxley – heroes and anti-heroes?
  • Dr David J. Horne – Ostracods, evolution and religion: George Stewardson Brady (1832-1921) and his scientific collaborators
  • Dr Robert Wynn Jones – Henry Bowman Brady, Hero of Foraminiferology: The Man, the Scientist and the Scientific Legacy

Inaugural presentation of TMS Brady Medal to Professor John Murray. Presented by Professor David Siveter with Mr Anthony Stones.

Presentation of Charles Downie Award 2007 to Dr Eleanor Maddison.

Microfossils and Climate Change

Wednesday, 15th November 2006
University College, London

Read Abstracts.

The Charles Downie Award for presented to Dr Samantha Gibbs. Honorary Membership was confered on Dr John Whittaker and following the lectures, members of the Society were invited to a wine reception in the South Cloisters, sponsored by PetroStrat Ltd. We thank Shell UK Ltd for their generous support of this meeting.

16 November 2005
J. Z. Young Lecture Theatre, University College, London

This year (2005) the AGM included invited speakers from each of the specialist groups and a lecture by the recipient of the Charles Downie Award.

  • Charles Wellman (Sheffield): Dispersed spores as evidence for the origin and early evolution of land plant
  • David Siveter (Leicester): The microfossils and other biota of the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte
  • Ivan Sansom (Birmingham): Fishing in the Ordovician – microvertebrates and macroevolution
  • Haydon Bailey and Liam Gallagher (Network Stratigraphic Consulting): Coccoliths and other microfossils in forensic palaeontology
  • Rainer Gersonde (AWI, Bremerhaven): Diatoms as indicators of Pleistocene development of the Southern Ocean
  • Kate Darling (Edinburgh): Genetics of planktonic foraminifera
  • Daniela Schmidt (Bristol): Abiotic Forcing of Plankton Evolution in the Cenozoic (Charles Downie Award)

Honorary Membership was confered on Prof John Murray and following the lectures, members of the Society were invited to a wine reception in the South Cloisters, generously sponsored by PetroStrat Ltd.

The 2004 Annual General Meeting was held on 17th November at University College London.

Following Society business, two talks were presented.

Ancient Glacier Bodies, the Case of Oetzi, the Tyrolean Iceman: Clues from Microscopic Plant and Animal Remains –

Dr Jim Dickson Institute of Biomedical & Life Sciences, Univ. of Glasgow

The 5,300 year old Tyrolean Iceman is the best preserved, oldest human body ever found. Scientifically, he is much more fun than Tutankamun. By palynology and complimentary techniques, the challenge is to work out his lifestyle in as great detail as possible and in particular to reconstruct his last days and hours.

Pteropods; What the Heck are They? – Mr Arie Janssen
National Museum of Natural History, Leiden

Pteropods, nowadays more correctly indicated as Gastropoda, Thesosomata, are holoplanktonic molluscs. They are known from marine deposits since the Late Palaeocene and still occur in the actual fauna. A brief account of systematics and morphology will be given. Their potential application in biostratigraphy will be demonstrated, with results from the Mediterranean and the North Sea Basin. Some practical cases using vertical distribution and evolution will be explained as examples of their possibilities, next to well-known other holoplanktonic organisms like dinoflagellates, foraminifera and calcareous nannoplankton.

The Annual General Meeting was held on 26th November at University College London.

Following Society business, two talks were presented.

The use of reworked palynomorphs in the provenance analysis of the Crag Group (Pleistocene) and the pre-Devensian glacial deposits of East Anglia

J.B. Riding1, J. Rose2, R.J.O. Hamblin1, B.S.P. Moorlock1, S.J. Booth1, J.R. Lee2 and S. Pawley2
1British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
2Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey

Allochthonous palynomorphs have proved extremely useful in the provenance analysis of the Crag Group and the overlying pre-Devensian glacial succession in East Anglia, southeast England. The Crag Group is dominantly fluvial and palynomorph-bearing sedimentary clasts picked up inland to the north and west, especially where the rivers were of high erosive force, can help model the paths of these major drainage elements. Likewise, the palynological content of Till sheets can also provide valuable evidence of provenance. In both the Crag Group and the Till succession, Carboniferous and Jurassic palynomorphs may be especially common, with lesser proportions of Cretaceous and Palaeogene elements. Palynomorphs of Silurian to Quaternary age have been observed.

Both derived palynofloras and clast lithologies from river and shallow marine sediments have been used to correlate pre-Anglian fluvial and coastal deposits in eastern England. The results are used to provide a lithostratigraphical framework for the Early and early Middle Pleistocene sediments, and to derive sedimentary models that can be linked to the tectonic and climatic processes that determined the behaviour of the geological systems. Three geological systems are recognised. i) The river Thames, which drained an area from Wales through Midland England to the Thames basin and southern East Anglia and reached the southern North Sea delta in the region of southern East Anglia. ii) The Bytham river which drained midland England and the southern Pennines and reached the southern North Sea delta in the region of north central East Anglia. iii) The Ancaster river which drained the southern Pennines and received sediment from northeast England. This river reached the sea in, and north of, northern East Anglia and contributed to some of the Cromer Forest-Bed. Each of these rivers contributed to the shallow marine sediments that formed around the eastern margin of the southern North Sea delta/estuary and are known as the Red, Norwich, and Wroxham Crag formations.

Similarly, the study of allochthonous palynomorphs can be effectively applied to the provenance of the pre-Devensian glacial deposits of Norfolk. Traditionally these deposits have been divided into a Lowestoft Formation, overlying a North Sea Drift Formation, the latter including three or four tills. All were considered to be Anglian, Oxygen Isotope Stage (OIS) 12. However, detailed mapping has demonstrated that the Lowestoft Till equates to the Walcott Till or Second Cromer Till, the second of the North Sea Drift tills. The deposits underlying the Lowestoft Till are now termed the Happisburgh Formation and were derived from northern Britain and the North Sea. The Lowestoft Formation is overlain by the Bacton Green or Third Cromer Till, for which derivation from northern Britain and the North Sea is also proposed; no Scandinavian erratics have been found in this till. The Bacton Green Till is overlain by the Overstrand Formation. This includes both sandur deposits (Briton’s Lane Member) and till (Stody Member), both of which are dominated by coarse, rounded flints. Unlike the earlier formations, the Overstrand Formation reveals constructional geomorphology and contains Scandinavian erratics, and an OIS 6 age is proposed for this glaciation, corresponding to the major glaciation in the Netherlands.

Micropalaeontology in the service of archaeology: advances in Quaternary biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental analysis
using foraminifera and ostracods

J.E. Whittaker1, Dave Horne2 & Bob Wynn Jones3
1Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London
2Department of Geography, Queen Mary College, University of London
3BP Exploration, Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlessex

It all started with Boxgrove! Traditionally, palynology had been the foremost tool in the micropalaeontological interpretation of the Quaternary. At the world-famous Boxgrove archaeological site (of Cromerian age), West Sussex, however, poor preservation of palynomorphs resulted in a need to consider other options; consequently I was asked, about ten years ago, to assess the potential of ostracods and foraminifera as palaeoenvironmental proxies and dating tools at Boxgrove. Results were encouraging and led to further requests to analyse calcareous microfossils from other archaeological sites, including the Aldingbourne, Brighton-Norton, and Selsey raised beaches in Sussex, as well as further afield. Soon, however, it was realised that taxonomic nomenclature in both microfossil groups needed substantial revision if they were to be used effectively to circumvent the loss of valuable climatic, environmental and biostratigraphic information due to misidentifications. Case histories from several UK sites are presented here and provide examples of successes resulting from exciting new discoveries, as well as some cautionary tales. A case is made for a renewed effort to establish a standard taxonomic database of Quaternary ostracods and foraminifera that extends well beyond the boundaries of NW Europe. The need for a harmonisation of biological and palaeontological classifications, particularly of freshwater ostracods, is also highlighted.