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.

Resources for self-guided fieldtrips & home isolation

These are strange times that we are living through at the moment and which is meaning changes to the life rhythms of even the Edinburgh Geological Society. As you probably aware, we had to cancel our AGM which was due to be held on the 18th March 2020. The next casualty will be our field excursion programmes on both Wednesday and Saturdays over the spring/summer months.

In the meantime, the Society is keen to keep supporting its members and the general public in any way it can. Some ways which we can do this is as follows:

1. Here is a link to the many leaflets produced by our Lothian & Borders Geoconservation Group (LBGC), describing all of the manner of geological features in the local area, which can be self-guided using the information provided. We owe it to all our current and former members of these groups who have prepared these resources to use them at this time. But remember – if going out alone to always let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back. Happy exploring!

2. Our Publication Sales Officer, Don Cameron stands ready to supply you with one of our Excursion Guides (and EGS members get a 20% discount). You can browse the selection in the Publications section of the website, and Don will respond as quickly as possible to any orders he receives. So, lets and try and pick up one of those guides we never quite had time enough to read! If you do find a good geology book (which includes our own publications), let me know and we will endeavour to post reviews on the website. We also welcome Members’ photos (not too many) which we can upload to the website as well.

3. The entire run of The Edinburgh Geologist is available online. That is 67 issues since 1977! Plenty to keep you entertained in that lot. And if you want to go further back in the past, EGS members have access to the entire Transactions of the Edinburgh Geological Society via the Lyell Collection. The Transactions cover almost 100 years (1868 to 1963) with over 800 articles.

Here’s hoping you can at least have a good read and maybe the odd trip out in the coming weeks,

Take care all,

Neil Mackenzie, Honorary Secretary secretary@edinburghgeolsoc.org

 

Deep Time Walk group in front of Arthur's Seat

President’s Report for the Annual General Meeting 2018-19, due to be held March 2020

The coronavirus measures mean we had to postpone our AGM for 2018-19 and our last lecture of the 2019-20 season. At this stage it is not clear for how long we need to self-isolate, but EGS will cancel the April-June excursions now and review the summer programme on a monthly basis as advice changes. It is likely more excursions will be cancelled and we will be unlikely to use coaches this season. We will also explore web lectures and individual field trip guide opportunities during the summer and for next season. In the meantime we hope you manage to get out alone (or with the dog) to keep “geologising”.

The AGM is an important part of the year, and indeed there is an obligation for EGS to hold one. You have all seen our Annual Report, but I thought it might be useful to write a short commentary and add a few things about the last few months and a look forward to the future. Please do contact me if you have any questions or comments.

You can download the full report here – EGS AGM President’s Report 18 March 2020.

Robert Gatliff, EGS President president@edinburghgeolsoc.org.

Charles Lyell’s notebooks saved

The first lecture of this winter’s programme was on the topic of “Sir Charles Lyell: Making the archives of a public man of science public” on 16th October 2019 and was given by Dr David McClay – Philanthropy Manager, Library and University Collections at the University of Edinburgh.  The good news from the preceding day (and luckily for the speaker) was the announcement that the required sum of just under £1 million had been raised, thanks to generous contributions from the Edinburgh Geological Society, individual fellows and more than 1100 other supporters.  David re-iterated his thanks to the society and all those who had gifted contributions.

So, what next? Well the University Library and Collections have held several open sessions at which a few EGS Fellows have been present to view the notebooks.  The University has also been reviewing the condition of the notebooks with an aim of carrying out a sample digitisation, which will be made available in the next 12 months.  The full scanning will be a massive job, given there are 294 notebooks in the collection.  One thing that the University may require help with is the transcribing of the notebooks – training will be provided and it is likely that volunteers will be needed.  We will be keeping Fellows updated on any requests for assistance.  In the meantime, the web link www.ed.ac.uk/giving/save-lyell-notebooks explains more about what will be happening in the coming months.

 

Clough Medal Lecture – 19 February 2020

Prof K Whaler & Bob Gatliff – Clough Medal Award 2019

On Wednesday 19th February 2020, EGS Fellows gathered for the Clough Medal lecture held at the University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute.  The 2019-20 Clough Medal was awarded to Professor Kathy Whaler OBE, FRSE, FAGU (University of Edinburgh) for a distinguished career as an academic in the field of geophysics. Our current President, Bob Gatliff presented Kathy with the Clough Medal and was able to remind fellows that this year was notable on two counts. First that Kathy was only the third geophysicist to be awarded the medal and that it was over 40 years since Janet Watson received the medal. Kathy thanked the society for the recognition she had been given and was then able to explain some of the many facets of her research  in a lecture entitled “Adventures with Maxwell’s equations”.

Amongst the topics covered was her research in the field of geo-magnetism, involving the use of geophysics to large-scale earth processes, from the Earth’s core through the crust and even to interpreting the history of Mars geomagnetic record.  She also explained some recent research being undertaken in the Afar region of Ethiopia, called the RiftVolc project, which has drawn together a multidisciplinary group of researchers to understand crustal processes in the East African Rift. Finally, Prof Whaler touched on the future research topics including the important role played by the Earth’s magnetic field in protecting us from solar flares. She is also planning more research within the rift valley, where active volcanoes and the public are found close together.  At the end of the evening, Bob thanked Kathy for the wide ranging and fascinating lecture to celebrate the award of the 2019-20 Clough Medal.

Port Askaig 2020 – Workshop at St Andrews 12-13 May 2020

Cryogenian glaciation: the extraordinary Port Askaig record and its comparators
12-13 May 2020, University of St Andrews
www.portaskaig.org

This international conference is designed to allow full presentations of the results of a long-term field campaign on the 1100 m thick Port Askaig Formation focussed on the extraordinarily complete exposures in the Garvellach Islands and Islay. Presentations will include virtual fieldtrips. The meeting will be a research workshop and will be webcast.

Presenters include Roger Anderton, Doug Benn, Dave Chew, David Evans, Ian Fairchild, Mike Hambrey, Dan le Heron, Bruce Levell, Emrys Phillips, Catherine Rose (convener), Graham Shields,  Anthony Spencer and Richard Waller.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow full presentations of results from an intensive research programme by the convenors and collaborators since 2012 on the Port Askaig Formation (PAF), together with cognate contributions from other Quaternary and Cryogenian experts. This will ensure evaluation and discussion of the significance of the Port Askaig Formation as an exceptional exemplar of glacial sedimentary history. This meeting represents an important step in the preparation of a proposed new Geological Society of London Memoir on the PAF.

Further information and registration at www.portaskaig.org.

How Edinburgh's rocks were formed

School Poster – Edinburgh’s Rocks and People

EGS school poster - Edinburgh Rocks and PeopleWhat makes Edinburgh special? Lots of different factors make a city, but one key feature that most visitors to Edinburgh notice is the dramatic landscape of the city centre. This is a landscape of rocky crags, cliffs and steep slopes surrounded by lower, flatter ground. It is derived from a mix of different kinds of rock – sedimentary and igneous.

Our Edinburgh’s Rocks and People poster for schools is designed to give an introduction to the rich story of Edinburgh’s dramatic landscape. The A2-size poster will be distributed for free to all secondary schools in the Lothian area. We are also developing accompanying online material, including suggested activities exploring these themes:

Edinburgh’s Rocks – what kind of rocks do we find in Edinburgh? How have they been used by people?

Evidence from the past – what do Edinburgh’s rocks tell us about the past? Where was Edinburgh when these rocks were being formed? What did the world look like then?

Making Edinburgh’s Landscape – how has the landscape been formed? What has been the impact on Edinburgh of the Ice Age and changing sea level?

James Hutton & the Rock Cycle – The Edinburgh geologist James Hutton (1726-1797) proposed that the Earth operated as a machine, where natural processes acted over immense time scales to erode the land and create new rocks. This was the beginning of our understanding of the rock cycle and the inter-relationships between sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.

Local Geology Leaflets

Geoconservation Leaflets - Edinburgh Geological SocietyThe Lothian and Borders GeoConservation Group has published over 30 leaflets about sites around Edinburgh. From St Abb’s Head on the Borders Coast to the Bathgate Hills in West Lothian, just about every important geological site in the area has a leaflet explaining a bit about the geology of the site, and guiding you to key exposures where you can see the best of the geology of this area.

The leaflets are all available as free pdf downloads – or for a small donation, they can be sent to you through the post.

 

 

Saving & sharing the Charles Lyell Notebooks

The Edinburgh Geological Society is delighted to support the successful campaign, launched by the University of Edinburgh, to save Charles Lyell’s notebooks. The 294 notebooks record in remarkable detail the life, travels, thoughts and ideas of this significant historical geologist. The Society pledged a donation towards the purchase of the notebooks, which were due to be sold abroad. A temporary export bar gave the University and supporters the opportunity to raise the necessary funds to purchase them. Over 1,100 supporters pledged to save the historic notebooks. The purchase price was originally set at £1,444,000, but reduced to £966,000 thanks to a restructuring of tax liability. With the full funds now pledged, the notebooks will be purchased by the University, who have promised to make them as accessible as possible as quickly as possible. You can follow progress on the University of Edinburgh’s Library Blog – libraryblogs.is.ed.ac.uk/lyell/

EGS Public Lecture: The Secret Life of Carbon

Wednesday 23 October 2019, 7 pm at Dynamic Earth

The role of carbon in the atmosphere is well known, but what else does carbon get up to as it cycles through Earth systems? Find out from experts about the role of carbon in soils, rivers and the oceans.

Speakers

Susan Waldron, Professor of Biogeochemistry, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. Susan is an expert in the peats of Scotland and the role of carbon in soils and rivers.

Tom Wagner, Professor of Earth System Science, The Lyell Centre, Heriot Watt University. Tom will talk about carbon and nutrient cycling from land, through rivers to the oceans – in the modern environment and in the past.

Dick Kroon, Regius Professor of Geology, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh. Dick specialises in scientific ocean drilling, exploring relationships between long-term climate change and carbon cycling.

Venue: Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS. Parking is available in the Dynamic Earth underground car park (charges apply).

Tickets £5, free for students and under 18s. Tickets available on the door, just turn up!

Recognising Scotland’s Geological Heritage: introducing the Scottish Geology Trust

The Edinburgh Geological Society fully supports the creation of the Scottish Geology Trust, a new, national charity that will promote and celebrate Scotland’s geology and its value to society, and encourage its conservation. This initiative arose from a meeting of interested parties hosted by EGS last autumn, which included all of Scotland’s geological societies, the Geoparks, universities and museums, geoconservation groups and the Scottish Geodiversity Forum.

The new organisation will offer opportunities for EGS to collaborate with other organisations on projects of national importance, to build on and expand the work of the Scottish Geodiversity Forum and support Scotland’s Geoparks. The Scottish Geology Trust will be a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and a membership organisation, seeking subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations. There is strong potential to raise money, for example from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, for significant projects that promote Scotland’s geology and specific sites of national/international importance. Updates will be available on www.scottishgeology.com and the new organisation will be launched in spring 2020.