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 – firstname.lastname@example.org