James Croll – from Janitor to Genius

An online whole-day meeting co-sponsored by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Quaternary Research Association, celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of James Croll (1821-1890), a self-taught, stonemason’s son from Perthshire who became internationally celebrated as a proponent and developer of the astronomical theory of climate change with its implications for glaciation, oceanography and much else. Using a mixture of talks and videos, the meeting will explore Croll as a person and as a scientist, with specialists drawn from the worlds of science, history and popularisation.

The Zoom-based meeting may be accessed, free of charge, via the following link: rsgs.org/Event/james-croll-from-janitor-to-genius 

Programme

Session 1:

10.00-10.15 Kevin J. Edwards (Aberdeen/Cambridge): Introduction.

10.15-10.45 Mike Robinson (RSGS): James Croll, a video introduction.

10.45-11.00 Kevin J. Edwards (Aberdeen/Cambridge): James Croll and 1876 – an exceptional year for a ‘singularly modest man’.

11.0-11.15 Laura Brassington (Cambridge): Croll’s navigation of scientific societies.

11.15-11.30 Break

11.30-11.45 Diarmid A. Finnegan (Belfast): Science, metaphysics and Calvinism: the God of James Croll.

11.45-12.00 Malcolm Longair (Cambridge): James Croll, celestial mechanics and climate change.

12.00-12.15 “James Croll” (Edinburgh): On the thickness of the Antarctic ice, and its relations to that of the glacial epoch.

12.15-12.45 Question & Answer

12.45-14.00 Lunch break

Session 2:

14.00-14.15 James R. Fleming (Maine): Cosmic connections: James Croll’s influence on his contemporaries and his successors.

14.15-14.30 Chronis Tzedakis (London): James Croll and geological archives: testing astronomical theories of ice ages.

14.30-14.45 Alastair Dawson (Dundee): The oceanographic contribution of James Croll.

14.45-15.00 James Rose (London): Lyell, the Geikies, and Croll’s observations on terrestrial
glacial sediments and landforms.

15.00-15.15 Break

15.15-15.30 Roy Thompson (Edinburgh): Croll, feedback mechanisms and the future.

15.30-15.45 Jo Woolf (RSGS): Popularising Croll: an opportunity for expression and creativity.

15.45-16.30 Question & Answer

16.30-16.40 Mike Robinson (RSGS): Video – Croll, place and landscapes.

Clough Medal Lecture 2020-21 – Dr Tony Spencer

Tony Spencer on The Garvellachs

On 17th February 2021 our annual Clough Medal lecture took place for the first time as totally virtual event. The medallist for 2020-21 was Dr Anthony M Spencer who gave a lecture entitled the “The Port Askaig Formation in Argyll: uncovering the evidence for repeated climatic change in a Crogenian glacial sequence”. He was presented with his medal (again virtually) by our Vice-President, Prof Emrys Phillips on behalf of the Edinburgh Geological Society.

A brief outline of Tony’s career was described by David Stephenson. Tony had first come across the Garvellach Islands during his Doctoral research at Liverpool University in 1963. He had been presented with the topic his supervisor, Prof Wally Pitcher, who with Prof Robert Shackelton had visited the islands in 1961. Tony completed his PhD in three years and then moved onto a Post-Doctoral research position. Their findings were noticed by the Geological Society of London and led to approval for a Special Publication “Late Pre-Cambrian Glaciation in Scotland” which was published in 1971.

Tony’s career turned in a different direction after this, to more off-shore geology with stints with both BP and Statoil, and in various parts of the globe. He retired in 2012, after which he turned his attentions back to the Garvellach Islands. He then explained how through collaboration with experts in a range of specialisms, they had been able to uncover together so much more, to build on what hade been done before.

The Garvellach Islands lie in the Forth of Lorne, off the west coast of Argyll. There are four main islands and many skerries around them. The islands expose around 550m of the Port Askaig Tillite Formation, around half of its total thickness. Contained with these exposed rocks are 47 diamictites (poorly sorted or non-sorted terrigenous non-calcareous sedimentary rocks). The sequence shows many examples of where grounded ice has scraped at the sediments when these were exposed on land, some marine drop-stones indicate the presence of intruding seas at other times and also periglacial features such a frost polygons and frost shattering of exposed surfaces. In total, they have identified 28 glacial periods, 25 inter-glacial periods and 23 periglacial periods, a total of 76 significant climatic episodes in this one sequence.

Clough Medal

The Clough Medal

We learnt from Tony about how many days had been spent by numerous geoscientists on the islands over the past eight years to gather this data. He also mentioned all the boat trips made to and from the islands by virtue of three generations of the MacLachlan family of Luing.
Finally, Tony touched on the Garvellach’s history of human occupation from AD 542 (1st Century) by monks from Ireland (?) through to just before the 2nd World War when the last residents on island left. Now only migratory geoscientists visit there, many of whom are longing to return for the delayed field season of 2020 (their 9th year!).

The audience for Tony’s talk was spread widely around the globe from the USA to Australia, via Stavanger in Norway where he was presented his lecture for this evening. The vote of thanks was given by Prof Tony Prave (University of St Andrews) who thanked him for a truly unique Clough Medal lecture delivered by virtual means. He also thanked Tony for the time he takes to support a wide range of students and his openness in sharing of ideas, and for explaining his material in such a compelling way.

Anyone who wasn’t able to attend, or would just like to listen again to Tony’s lecture, can find the recording on our YouTube channel, which can be accessed from the Lectures page.

Urban Nature Map for Edinburgh – with built-in geology!

The Edinburgh Geological Society is delighted to have supported the production of a new map for Edinburgh, the Urban Nature map, and contributed a geological perspective to a unique resource that celebrates the best of our wonderful city. You can read more about the map here – www.urbangood.org/blogs/urban-good-news/urban-nature-maps-for-edinburgh-and-glasgow, and this page also includes links to buy the new Edinburgh and Glasgow maps.

Do check out the amazing atlas on the reverse of the map, including some geological info below, and lots of useful and interesting maps, diagrams and data to encourage people to think and explore.

This panel and much more is available at https://www.urbangood.org/pages/edinburgh-urban-nature-map-resource

 

The Henry Emeleus Fieldwork Grant

In 2018, the Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group established a new award, named after C. Henry Emeleus (1930–2017), the internationally renowned igneous petrologist and field geologist (and esteemed member of the Edinburgh Geological Society!). This single award of up to £1000 for fieldwork honours the pioneering work that Henry Emeleus undertook in the Paleogene North Atlantic Igneous Province (primarily Greenland, Ireland and NW Scotland). His highly-respected studies spanned over 60 years and were all underpinned by meticulous field observations.

To be eligible for the award applicants must be UK based, and either:
• registered postgraduate students;
• postdoctoral researchers; or
• university lecturers.

At least 50% of the award should be spent directly on research fieldwork (transport, accommodation and field logistical support).

Application deadline is 28 February 2021 – further details and application form.

New book: the Changing Outer Hebrides, by Frank Rennie

Members and friends of the Edinburgh Geological Society might be interested in a new book, written by Frank Rennie, about sense of place in the Outer Hebrides. Frank is a member of EGS and has previously lectured to us. He is Professor of Sustainable Rural Development, Assistant Principal (Research, Enterprise, and Development) at the University of The Highlands and Islands.

The Changing Outer Hebrides – Galson and the meaning of Place is a fascinating and intimate account of the inter-relationship between one small island village in the Hebrides and the wider world. From the formation of the bedrock 3 billion years ago, to the predictable near-future, the layers of this unique landscape are explored. The social history of the people is closely interwoven with the natural environment in a journey of deep mapping to consider the meaning of special places. Through the Iron Age and the Clearances to the contemporary events of community land ownership, a portrayal is given that challenges the perception that this is a remote place, isolated at the edge, but instead is crucial to our contemporary relationship with the land.

Published by Acair in 2020, ISBN: 9781789070835.

https://www.acairbooks.com/categories/non-fiction-titles/all-non-fiction/the-changing-outer-hebrides.aspx

Mary Anning statue fundraising appeal

Message from Anya Pearson and Evie Swire about the fundraising appeal to raise money for a statue of Mary Anning:

Evie (13 year old fossil mad school girl who started this all when she was 11) and I wondered if you could share our crowdfund page with your members? Or even see if they could help in anyway with a contribution. We only need to raise the final £30,000 of the £100k needed to complete Mary’s statue, along the Jurassic Coast at Lyme Regis, so we need all the people power we can muster. We have the support of the Geologists Association, Sir David Attenborough, Professor Alice Roberts, NHM, and so many more amazing people.

Here is the link to the crowdfund page with a brilliant 3 min film about what we are trying to achieve.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/maryanningrocks

New Shale Trail in West Lothian

The Shale Trail is a new 16 mile way marked trail across West Lothian linking sites, features and communities relating to the area’s rich oil shale heritage. Visit the Shale Trail website for more information including maps of the trail, and an introduction to West Lothian’s rich cultural, historical and scientific heritage.

You can find wonderful stories of Scotland’s Oil Rush on the Shale Trail website or by using the QR codes on each of the waymarker posts. There are also stories compiled by children from West Lothian’s schools, including about the geology of the area. There are links on the marker posts to these too.

shaletrail.co.uk

Hutton Series on Climate Change at Panmure House

The Hutton Series on Climate Change is a series of events taking place across 2020-21 at Adam Smith’s Panmure House, bringing together a diverse cross-section of experts, business leaders, scientists, and concerned citizens in the service of one simple aim: to identify ten key priorities, innovations & actions to mitigate the climate crisis.

Report from session 1 (Tuesday 6 October) is available here.

The second session is on Tuesday 1 December, 2-4pm: the Response from the Financial Sector. Keynote speakers for this second session are Keith Skeoch, Chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments Research Institute, and Kirsty Hamilton, former Director of the Low Carbon Finance Group. Each will talk for 5 minutes, before taking questions and participating in a debate panel, led by Professor Heather McGregor (Executive Dean, Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University).

This event will be hosted virtually by Panmure House and simultaneously live-streamed as an interactive webinar via Facebook and the Panmure website. The broadcast will be recorded and readily available on-demand up to 48 hours after the live event.

Find out more and Register

Books and maps from Ian Jackson’s collection

Ian Jackson, a long standing EGS member and a former Publications Sales Officer and Council member, died in the summer. He had an collection of geological books, maps and memoirs. We are sure that Ian would like these to be used by others interested in geology and members who would like books and/or maps are invited to ask for them.

Please visit www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/ian-jackson-books-maps/ to browse what is available and for details about how to request items. Donations are requested for EGS funds: EGS Council will discuss the appropriate use of all donations received for example in making additional grants to students in 2021.

EGS Publications

Publications orders: free postage for UK members

EGS PublicationsSince we are not able to gather for lectures this winter, all orders from EGS members in the UK for Excursion Guides and Books from our online shop will be posted for free. Members also benefit from a 20% discount on all purchases.

Head over to the Excursion Guides and Books page to browse the wide selection on offer, from poetry to the geology of the Moine. You may well find a gift for yourself or someone else!

Sorry this offer is only available to EGS members in the UK. Not a member? That is easy to rectify  – Join Us!