May 18 2009 Posted: 00:00 IST
To celebrate the arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway a free public talk entitled 'The Making of Galway Bay' will be held at 6pm on Monday, 25 May, in the Cairnes Lecture Theatre, Arts/Science Concourse, NUI Galway. Delivering the lecture will be Professor Mike Williams, Head of Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway, who has spent many years researching the natural history of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands. According to Professor Williams, "The talk will be a tale of earthquakes, tsunami, great storms and climate change that have, over thousands of years, shaped Galway Bay into what it is today. While Galway Bay has been romanticised in song, natural forces have been far from loving. In 1755, the Lisbon earthquake triggered a tsunami which swept up the Bay, damaging the Spanish Arch and drowning many citizens. Our brave city, perched on the Atlantic coast, also took the brunt of the one of the biggest storms Europe has ever known in 1839. It was referred to at the time, in understated fashion, as 'the night of the big wind'. Much of the Professor's work centres on identifying the sedimentary fingerprints of tsunami and extreme storm waves along Ireland's cliff faces. He comments: "Ridges preserved on the cliffs of the Aran Islands and Co. Clare are up to 50 metres above sea level, and offer a perfect natural laboratory in which to study the natural history of Galway Bay". Professor Williams has published papers on wave, climate, and coastal erosion. During his talk he will outline some recent discoveries on the history of Galway Bay, which stretches back over 15,000 years. As the talk is being held on Africa Day of the Volvo Ocean Race, it is also supporting Zikomo Ireland, a Galway-based African charity group.