News

The latest news and information from EGS, including updates on our excursion and lecture programmes, and any other news we think you might find interesting or useful. Please let us know of anything important that we could share with others, by email or using our Contact Form.

Putting Scotland’s Geosites on the map

The Scottish Geology Trust’s Geosites project launched in June 2023. This ambitious new project intends to put all of Scotland’s best geology sites on an interactive, online map, making it easy for anyone to find sites, learn about them, and report any damage or deteriorating conditions.

Almost 30 volunteers have been involved so far, visiting over 100 sites in the Geological Conservation Review. Although several sites were reported as overgrown and difficult to access, it is heartening that thus far we have discovered no significant geoconservation concerns. And the project website https://geosites.scottishgeologytrust.org/ is rapidly developing into an incredibly useful resource for identifying interesting geological sites to visit across Scotland.

We intend to develop this project further over the coming years, creating a one-stop portal for finding out about geological sites in Scotland, getting a quick overview and access to the detail published in the Geological Conservation Review and other sources. You will be able to find information about access and the best spots to visit, view recent photographs and contribute your own reports. We’d love to get more people involved, and there is a lot of desk work to be done even if you aren’t able to visit sites. Please get in touch with Angus Miller angus@scottishgeologytrust.org

Grant Inst Lecture Theatre

Clough Medal Lecture 2023/24

Tony Prave presentation

Tony being presented with Clough Medal 2023-24

Our annual Clough Medal lecture took place on 28th February at the Grant Institute, Kings Buildings Campus, University of Edinburgh and also broadcast online. The audience for this years’ lecture was well over 100 (50+ in person and 54 on line).  Whether the fact that the lecture was preceded by a “pizza and pop” event, kindly supported by a donation from an EGS Fellow, or whether it was cohort of Tony Prave’s supporters from the University of St Andrews, it did make for a great atmosphere on the evening.

Graham Leslie, Chair of the Clough Committee had the honours of explaining that the Clough Medal was established in 1935 and is given each year to a person who has contributed to a geologist whose original work has materially increased the knowledge of the geology of Scotland and/or the north of England, or one working in Scotland or the north of England who has significantly advanced the knowledge of any aspect of geology.

The medallist for 2023/24 was Professor Antony (Tony) Prave (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of St Andrews) who gave a lecture entitled “There is nothing left to learn about this scrap of NW Europe”.  He was presented with his medal by Mark Wilkinson, President of Edinburgh Geological Society.

Tony Prave started his academic career at The City University of New York in USA, before coming to the University of St Andrews in 1996 as a Senior Lecturer.  For the subsequent 27 years, he has carried a wide range of research; with two programmes having had particular scientific impact: that concerned with the Neoproterozoic, and that with the Palaeoproterozoic. In each case the modus operandi has been the same: (1) meticulous and painstaking fieldwork conducted from a base of deep theoretical knowledge and an open mind; (2) careful screening of samples through petrography and geochemistry; (3) advanced isotope geochemical analyses; and (4) imaginative interpretation of the data within the geological and field context. The impact of his published oeuvre has been substantial and paradigm changing.

Tony has brought new ideas, fresh thinking and novel approaches to study of the Dalradian sequences in both Scotland and Ireland. The complex geological – and especially metamorphic – history and the paucity of robust geochronology resulted in a wealth of opinion and speculation, sometimes dressed up as coherent theory. One grizzled veteran is known to have grouched about Prave’s “Olympian disregard of 40 years of research on the Dalradian”, but as his lecture demonstrated, it was merely that he pointed out that the evidence-base for previous thinking was weak.  Instead, Tony conceived fresh ideas from carefully selected samples of carbonate that might be suitable for carbon isotope chemostratigraphy – pace the adherents of metamorphic overprint – and in this he was spectacularly vindicated (Prave et al. 2009 J.Geol.Soc.Lond.). He has also had significant projects in Namibia and Death Valley, and was a central player with Simone Kasemann and others in applying novel isotopic approaches (including boron, calcium and magnesium isotope ratios) to some classic “Snowball Earth” sections in Namibia.

For the Palaeoproterozoic and the consequences of the Great Oxidation Event (oxygenation of the Earth’s surface) around 2.4Ga, Tony thorough work originated at the Loch Maree Group, became a key player in the multinational Fennoscandia Arctic Russia – Drilling Early Earth Project (FAR-DEEP). He was closely involved in successful funding initiatives to ICDP and NERC and was co-editor on three substantial volumes (each exceeding 500 pages) published by Springer in 2012/13. He followed this success with a similar-scale international drilling project on equivalent age sequences in Gabon.

The vote of thanks was given by Prof Tony Fallick FRSE, FRSA, FMinSoc (Clough Medal, 2013/14). He paid tribute to Tony’s perseverance in proving the doubters wrong on so many occasions and to ensuring that it’s the rocks that cannot lie.  It had been Tony’s ideas and drive that had brought success to the excellent teams both at University of St Andrews and also further afield, and in so doing he is a truly worthy recipient of the Clough Medal.  He asked for thank you from the audience present and online for the speaker and this was duly done by all.

If Fellows weren’t able to attend physically or virtually, a recording of the lecture is available here.

Beach Pebbles at the Edinburgh Science Festival

Thursday 11th / Friday 12th / Saturday 13th / Sunday 14th April 2024, 10am to 1pm

Every beach pebble has got a story to tell, about how the original rock was formed and what’s happened to it since then, to turn it into the pebble you can pick up on a beach today. Join geologists from the Edinburgh Geological Society on a local beach for some hands-on activities to explore the stories hidden in every pebble. We’ll discover an amazing variety of different types of pebble, find out where they come from and what they tell us about Scotland’s geology. We’ll also explore why the beach looks the way it does, and how it might change in the next few decades with climate change. You can try out some games and activities that will help you find out more about Scotland’s geology and make you think! Build a mini drystane dyke, skim some stones, or help make a map of the area.

Please dress for the weather. Warm clothing and strong footwear advised. Events take place close to access points but you may need to walk up to 100 metres on sand or pebbles and negotiate ramps or steps. Children must be accompanied by an adult and all participants require a ticket.

If you have mobility needs why not contact Beach Wheelchairs Portobello (Saturday 12th) or North Berwick (Sunday 13th) to see if they can help.

BWC Portobello have a range of manual beach wheelchairs and one special all terrain power wheelchair for free hire that can be used to get on the beach and take part in our activity. They also have a hoist that takes a loop style sling available to use. The event at Portobello is very close to their base and has ramp access to the beach. To find out more, including how to book check out their website https://www.facebook.com/beachwheelchairsportobello or phone 0300 666 0990 to chat to one of their volunteers.

BWC North Berwick have a range of manual beach wheelchairs and one special all terrain power wheelchair for free hire that can be used to get on the beach and take part in our activity. They also have a hoist that takes a loop style sling available to use. The event at North Berwick is very close to their base and has ramp access to the beach. To find out more, including how to book check out their website https://www.facebook.com/beachwheelchairsnorthberwick or phone 0300 111 2112 to chat to one of their volunteers.

Thursday 11th April, 10am to 1pm: Wardie Bay – book here
Friday 12th
 April, 10am to 1pm: Cramond Beach – book here
Saturday 13th April, 10am to 1pm: Portobello Beach 
– book here
Sunday 14th April, 10am to 1pm: North Berwick Beach 
– book here

Event locations

Reopen the Radical Road

Over 100 people attended a public meeting on Sunday 3 December 2023 about the Radical Road in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. Please sign the new petition, calling on Historic Environment Scotland to urgently reopen the Radical Road.

Workshop: Working with Charles Lyell, 8-9 February 2024, University of Edinburgh

‘WORKING WITH CHARLES LYELL’  Two-day workshop, 8-9 February 2024, University of Edinburgh

Background

In 2020, the University of Edinburgh acquired for the nation the Notebooks of the distinguished geologist and earth scientist Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and, in 2021, the University received a further substantial tranche of Lyell’s scientific papers and correspondence. Staff in the University’s Centre for Research Collections have since been working to conserve, catalogue, digitise and promote the Lyell materials. The exhibition on Lyell’s work and scientific importance – ‘Charles Lyell: Time Traveller’ – opened in the University of Edinburgh Main Library, on 27 October 2023 and will run until 30 March 2024). A website on the Lyell material in Edinburgh is to be launched shortly. This workshop – ‘Working with Charles Lyell’ – builds upon these initiatives.

Workshop Purpose

The purpose of the Workshop is to bring together researchers, museum curators and others with an interest in the life, work, and collections of Charles Lyell, to learn more of the Lyell materials held in Edinburgh, to explore how best to connect the disparate holdings of Lyell’s specimens and texts, and to consider future research possibilities on Lyell’s work and world.

Workshop Programme

Our exciting and diverse programme presents 16 papers on Lyell’s work, the world of nineteenth-century science, the context to and the lasting significance of his work. There are also two panel sessions:

1) Curatorial and archival staff in institutions holding Lyell material will explore the opportunities and problems involved in linking archival holdings and object collections across institutions.

2) We consider the opportunities and possibilities for further research and collaboration on Charles Lyell’s work and significance.

Workshop Locations

The Workshop will be based at St Cecilia’s Hall, with the afternoon of Day 2 featuring a visit to see some of the Lyell materials held at the Centre for Research Collections at the Main Library, George Square, University of Edinburgh, and an opportunity to visit to the current ‘Time Traveller: Charles Lyell at Work’ exhibition. Day 1 will end with an evening drinks reception at the Playfair Library, generously supported by the British Society for the History of Science.

Registration

Numbers are limited so registration is essential. The final date for registration is 19 January 2024.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/working-with-charles-lyell-workshop-tickets-768328851277

 

Time Traveller: Charles Lyell at Work

Exhibition at the University of Edinburgh Main Library, George Square
27 October 2023 – 30 March 2024

Today we understand the earth as an interconnected system involving life and its environment, including the atmosphere, oceans, ice, volcanoes, and the rocks of the crust. How do we comprehend forces that operate on global scales and deep in the past, beyond the capacities of human observation? How do we think about the relation between humans and animals? Can we establish a science that transcends deep divides of religion, race, culture, and politics?

This exhibition explores these questions through the work of a key figure in establishing this planetary vision, the geologist and science writer Charles Lyell (1797-1875), revealing how he travelled to gather evidence, and collaborated with others. For the first time, Lyell’s comprehensive archive is reunited with his collected fossils, specimens, and published books held at the University of Edinburgh.

The exhibition is on in the Main Library, George Square, Edinburgh. Free and open to all, the entrance is just before the main security entrance, so feel free to pop in anytime 10am – 6pm. Further information is here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/heritage-collections/museums-and-galleries/exhibitions-whats-on.

Expert curator Jim Secord is leading 2 lunchtime tours on Friday 27th October, 1pm – 2pm and Wednesday 1st November, 1pm-2pm. All are welcome, please register for either tour here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/curators-tour-of-time-traveller-charles-lyell-at-work-tickets-741447598727

Public Meeting: The Radical Road – Past, Present, Future?

The Radical Road in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park has been a much loved walking route since 1822. This public event will explore the history and use of the Radical Road, and its importance to local people and visitors, walkers, geologists, climbers and historians.

Lecture Programme 2023-2024

Our Wednesday evening lecture programme starts on 18th October 2023 and runs through until the end of March 2024. This year’s lecture programme continues the thread from last session, with lectures delivered by key authors contributing to several chapters of the new (5th) edition of The Geology of Scotland, which is due to be published this year.

View the full programme here.

These meetings are open to the public, there is no charge, no need to book, and visitors are most welcome. Our lectures are also broadcast live on Zoom. This session, several of our lectures will be preceded by free ‘pizza and pop’ sessions, from 6pm in the Grant Museum. All welcome.

The first lecture of the session will be given by Dr John Macdonald, University of Glasgow, on Wednesday 18th October 2023, exploring New Perspectives on Modern Geology: Anthropogenic Geomaterials. You can book for the free pizza and pop before the lecture using this link.

EGS Public Lecture: Mary Anning and her Sea-Dragons Friday 6 October 2023

Public lecture exploring the amazing variety of fossils in Scotland

New leaflet: the geology of Dalkeith Country Park

The Lothian and Borders GeoConservation group is delighted to publish a new leaflet exploring some of the geology of Dalkeith Country Park. The leaflet, prepared by volunteers Alison and Barry Tymon with support from other members of the group, introduces the sandstones that were used in construction of Restoration Yard and the Orangerie. It also explains how these sandstone layers were formed, and where some local examples can be seen in the Park. These were formed in large river channels around 310 million years ago.

You can download the new leaflet here – https://www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/publications/geoconservation-leaflets/#dalkeith-country-park