‘Boring’ geology in Glasgow & EGS’ winter lecture programme

Not quite what it may seem, but BGS’ geologists would appear to be doing some interesting new work beneath Glasgow. We have heard directly about plans for this work as part of our previous lecture programme. This BBC news website article from its science section contains some beautiful images from the cores taken from beneath Glasgow. A link to this article is given here.

BGS’ geologists drilling at UK Geo-energy Observatory in Glasgow

A reminder that this year’s winter lecture programme 2020/21, will contain a talk by the BGS’ Alison Monaghan on ‘Drilling into mines for heat: the UK Geo-energy Observatory in Glasgow’ on 3 February 2021. This will be joint meeting with the Mining Institute of Scotland.

Before then and to kicking-off our winter lecture programme on Wednesday 14th October will be a lecture on ‘The Falklands Plateau: its role in the break-up of Gondwana – and other geological controversies’ to be presented by Dave McCarthy (BGS) . This meeting will be held virtually and more details can be found at our lectures page.

Hopefully these lectures and others over the winter will indicate that the geology beneath Glasgow (and Edinburgh) is far from ‘boring’.

From the President

It is with great pleasure that I put pen to paper as president of the Edinburgh Geological Society. At the same time it is a great shame that we cannot all meet together to discuss all things geological but as a geological society we are adapting to the times and that there is really a great deal that our members can get involved with.

I returned to work in the lab at the Grant Institute recently expecting it to be a big change in scene following more than four months away. What I soon realised was that it really wasn’t that different to what I have at home – specimens scattered here and there (in order and neatly labelled of course), books on the bookshelf on various palaeontological and geological subjects and cupboards full of ingredients for preserving and conserving fossils (I don’t keep these in my kitchen cupboards!). I appreciate that not everybody will have all this in their home but it made me realise that there is actually an awful lot that we can do at home in pursuit of our interests.

Though travelling restrictions are largely lifted, my time since back in the UK has given me a greater appreciation of the rich and varied geology in our local neighbourhood and just how interesting and lucky I am to live in a part of the world where I can stroll for 15 minutes and find a coal seam that hasn’t been mined out. Of course, the internet is available to nearly all of us and through hours of idle geology googling I discovered that not only do I have 1m thick coal seam 11m under my house but there are also Carbonifeorus vertebrates preserved down there too! I encourage all to explore the hidden corners of their local neighbourhood for geological gems, build a home lab in their kitchen, do some geology and share it with everyone.

The BGS Geology of Britain viewer gives you access to 1:50,000 scale superficial and bedrock maps for the UK, and borehole records.

All that said, we cannot deny that the way we interact as a society has seismically shifted since the spring newsletter and this has sadly meant the last few lectures in our winter series and all of our summer field trips were cancelled. Despite this we have been able to interact as a society through Zoom and I see this becoming an invaluable tool for our lectures in the future and even (at the discretion of trip leaders) our field trips. David Wesbter’s virtual fieldtrip of Islay following our delayed Annual General Meeting was a great success and a fine example of how well it can work. That said, I’m sure most of us would agree that it doesn’t beat seeing the real thing and so within the limits of restrictions in place and through the hard work of Angus Miller, Ian Kearsley and David Graham we have a revised excursion programme for the lighter days of autumn.

There is no indication for the foreseeable future that the University of Edinburgh will be able to open up the Hutton Lecture theatre for our winter lecture series and so this will have to be virtual. Graham Leslie has cast his net far and wide to gather together a worthy and willing team to present their research and interests to us virtually. There are advantages to this approach in terms of accessibility but obviously the social side of geology for which we still yearn will have to put on hold for a bit longer.

It is not all doom and gloom however! The forthcoming Scottish Geology Festival promises to provide a feast of geological-related events as does the events presented by the Scottish Geology Trust. I thoroughly recommend visiting the Scottish Geology Trust website for news of upcoming events but also our very own EGS website! For those of you who are socially-media savvy our EGS twitter is a veritable rabbit hole of geological titbits that are guaranteed to stimulate the idle mind.

To finish on a very positive note indeed, we currently have the highest membership in living memory with a total of 627 current active members! This is an increase of more than 100 members from 10 years ago and a tribute to the hard work of all our those during this time who have helped promote our society in myriad ways.

Tom Challands, EGS President – president@edinburghgeolsoc.org

Dalradian workers in County Tyrone. Photograph: Amanda MacDonald/Dalradian/PA

Gold prospects in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Latest news from the Guardian about plans for new gold mining in the Dalradian rocks of Northern Ireland and Scotland. The gold price is up, and there’s talk of new developments. Lots of potential for jobs and investment, but also concerns about the impact on local communities and the environment.

Read more at the Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/28/how-much-is-a-life-worth-northern-irish-community-split-over-gold-mining-plans.

 

Scottish Geology Trust

The new Scottish Geology Trust is now up and running, with support from the Edinburgh Geological Society. The key objective of the Trust is “to inspire people everywhere to understand, love and care for Scotland’s incredible geological heritage and its role in creating a sustainable future”.

The Trust aims to bring together all sectors of the geological community in Scotland into a strong national voice that can campaign for change, and support and encourage work at a local level. Everyone with an interest in geology now has the opportunity to contribute to a national charity which will build the resources to achieve more than regional or local organisations can do by working alone.

The Trust has begun work on four areas of activity:

I. Promoting Scotland’s geology: provide opportunities for people to understand Scotland’s geological story and have easy access to sites where this can be appreciated.
II. Scotland’s geoparks: SGT will provide a focus for the promotion of the geoparks and provision of advice and information sharing. In the medium term, core funding for geoparks will be a priority, together with working with partner organisations to widen opportunities for the public to come face-to-face with geology.
III. Education: The Trust will work with partners such as the Geobus to support teaching about geology within the Curriculum for Excellence, looking for opportunities to work with and support teachers, highlight contexts for outdoor learning and promote geology as a career pathway. The Trust aims to inspire more adult learning about Scotland’s geology and encourage collaboration between schools, universities, industry and NGOs, to share the excitement and relevance of new research and support taking science out into wider society.
IV. Campaigning for Scotland’s geology: SGT will campaign to promote the value of geology to society, policy makers and government, and raise awareness of the impact of geology and geological processes on the availability of resources, global and local sustainability, risk management, including climate change, flooding and coastal erosion, and changes in biodiversity.

The Trust is organising the Scottish Geology Festival from 12th September to 31st October 2020. The festival will offer a range of events and activities for anyone interested in geology; there will be fantastic opportunities for all to get involved, including families, communities and visitors to Scotland. Planned events include field trips and talks, and there will be a range of virtual and in-person events.

The Scottish Geology Trust is a membership organisation, and will depend on member subscriptions and donations to be successful. EGS encourages our members to get involved in the Trust, to support this new organisation and its activities.

Find out more at www.scottishgeologytrust.org.

Eildon Hills, Scottish Borders

The Scottish Borders – unexplored territory

The Eildon Hills

by Alison and Barry Tymon

The rolling hills of the Scottish Borders region stretch from the Berwickshire coast westwards to Dumfries and Galloway, in the north to the Pentland Hills and Edinburgh, with the southern boundary following the border with England. Most of the region is drained in an easterly direction by the 150 km River Tweed and its tributaries.

The solid geology is dominated by Lower Palaeozoic greywackes which form the upland areas to the north and west, such as the Lammermuir Hills, Moorfoot Hills and Ettrick Forest. Eastwards, in the lower Tweed valley, Devonian and Carboniferous sandstones and mudstones are interrupted by volcanic lavas, plugs and intrusions, such as the Eildon Hills, near Melrose. Upland landscapes are influenced by glacial erosion whereas the valleys contain thick sequences of glacial and alluvial deposits.

Though Scotland has been surveyed over several decades for Local Geodiversity Sites (LGS), the Scottish Borders has been a relatively neglected region until recently. There are 28 geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the region, which include internationally significant sites such as Siccar Point on the Berwickshire coast and important fossil sites along the Whiteadder Water and the River Tweed. However, the region has many other interesting rock types and landscapes, so further surveying has been undertaken by two enthusiasts over the last three years. Read more

EGS AGM (online) Wednesday 24 June 2020

The EGS Annual General Meeting, postponed from March due to Covid-19, will take place on Wednesday 24th June at 7pm.  Unlike in previous years, we will be holding this AGM virtually using a ”Zoom” meeting software. The AGM will elect a new Council, and hear of recent developments. It will consider a proposal from Council to change membership categories and increase subscriptions. The AGM will be followed by a presentation by David Webster (Geological Society of Glasgow) on a virtual field trip to Islay.

The agenda and meeting details have been sent out on the EGS-News email list. If you did not receive this, please contact membership@edinburghgeolsoc.org – you can ask to join the email list at the same time.

Access to the Lyell Collection

EGS members are reminded that even if the latest edition of the Scottish Journal of Geology ends up locked in your office, you can access all editions online via the Lyell Collection. EGS members have Lyell Collection access to SJG and and the Transactions of the Edinburgh Geological Society: between them, these are absolute treasure troves of interesting information about Scottish geology.

See this page for further information – www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/publications/lyell-collection/

And get in touch with our Membership Secretary if you don’t know your EGS membership number.

 

Online Ask-A-Geologist events during Geoweek 9-17 May

Geoweek normally involves a selection of  exciting and engaging field trips across the UK. Not this year! While you can’t go out for a guided geology walk, you can join a geologist online to ask about any rock, fossil or mineral specimen, and find out about their favourite rocks.

During Geoweek 2020, from Saturday 9 to Sunday 17th May. there are six online sessions planned with geologists from Scotland’s universities and Geoparks: find out more at www.scottishgeology.com/geoweek2020/