5th Annual Stoneley Lecture - Volcanoes Coming to London!

By announcing that Sir Tony Robinson, star of the BBC’s 'Black Adder' and presenter of Channel 4's 'Time Team', will deliver this year’s Stoneley Lecture, the PESGB have once again excelled in meeting the brief of providing the public with informative, entertaining lectures designed to increase their understanding of earth sciences.
This article appeared in February, 2015


Mount Tambora Volcano, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

Volcanoes Coming to London!

Almost 200 years ago, on 10th April 1815, huge swathes of the earth were effected by a massive volcanic eruption – the largest known on the planet for probably 10,000 years. The volcano was Tambora, on Sumbawa Island in Indonesia, and the eruption resulted in global climate change and the deaths of 100,000 people. Up to 150 km3 of magma was extruded, the explosion was heard 2,000 km away and the resultant column of volcanic material reached more 40-50 km into the air, ejecting large amounts of ash and aerosols into the stratosphere.

Tambora, a stratovolcano, had previously erupted 43,000 years ago, and over time the resulting caldera had filled with lava flows, before the volcano became more active in 1812 and began a series of eruptions, culminating in this major event. Pyroclastic flows and heavy volcanic ash settled over a wide area, and tsunamis flooded coastal areas, causing something like 60,000 fatalities. The quantity of ash and particles in the air caused major temporary climate change as global temperatures dropped by 3°C in 1816, the ‘year without a summer’.

  • Sumbawa (Source: Sadalmelik)

In remembrance of this important global event, which is ranked a 7 (or ‘super-colossal) on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, the Petroleum Society of Great Britain (PESGB) have decided to devote this year’s Stoneley Lecture to the topic of volcanoes. This series of annual lectures – created by the PESGB in the memory of the late emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology at Imperial College, Professor Robert Stoneley – is dedicated to providing the public with informative and entertaining lectures designed to increase their understanding of geology, earth sciences and their importance in society. 

Sir Tony Robinson This year the lecture will be delivered by Sir Tony Robinson, star of the BBC’s Black Adder series and presenter of the hugely popular Channel 4 documentary, Time Team. During his most recent television project, Walking Through History, Sir Tony embarked on a series of spectacular walks through Britain’s iconic regions; tying the geography and geology of the places to their history. 

To help him discuss this fascinating subject, Sir Tony will be joined on the Central Hall Westminster stage by two expert volcanologists; Professor Dave Tappin and Dr. Dougal Jerram. Professor Tappin re-ignited an interest in volcanoes, when in 1998, a massive tsunami off Papua New Guinea killed over 2,200 people, and Dave led the research to find the cause - a submarine landslide. The PNG event rapidly developed into research on volcanic collapse generated tsunamis in the Hawaiian and Canary Islands and then into the tsunamis from the volcanic eruptions of Krakatau, 1883 and Santorini in 3,500BP.  Alongside Professor Tappin will be the One Show’s Dr. Volcano aka Dr. Dougal Jerram. As his name suggests, Dr. Jerram is a volcano enthusiast who has used books, scientific papers, journals and television programmes to introduce as many people as possible to these explosive events.

This fascinating event is on Tuesday 10th March, 2015, 6-7pm in Central Hall, Westminster, followed by a drinks reception. Tickets cost £15 and will be available on the door. To pre-book visit the PESGB website. Student tickets will be available on the door for £5 but will require proof of student status. Invite your friends, family and colleagues...

  • High levels of tephra in the atmosphere led to unusually spectacular sunsets in the years following the eruption of Mt. Tambora, this may have given rise to the yellow tinge predominant in J. M. W. Turner paintings, such as Chichester Canal circa 1828. (Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)


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