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.

Excursion Programme 2019

Location map for Excursion Programme 2019

Our bumper Excursion Programme for 2019  allows you to experience the superb range of geology that southern Scotland has to offer.   The programme starts on Wednesday 24 April with a short evening excursion around Corstorphine Hill, and runs right the way through to 20-22 September with the weekend excursion to Stonehaven and Highland Boundary Fault. In between these trips, there will be 16 others Wednesday evening (7-9pm), Saturday (all day) and Introductory excursions for new members (x3). Do try and take this opportunity to learn some field geology from our expert leaders.

Field Excursion to Ardross in Fife by Neil Mackenzie

Visit our website page Excursions to find out more details and how to book them.


EGS Strategy – Members’ Views

EGS Council is reviewing our five-year Strategy and would welcome views from the membership. The current strategy for 2015-19 is available online at

Please complete a short online survey (it has only 4 questions) that asks for your feedback on what we do and your ideas for the future. There is a modest prize draw! You can find the survey at

Deadline for responses – 31 March 2019.

Clough Medal

Clough Medal Lecture – Sideways views of Scottish Garnets: Insights into Metamorphic Processes

The Clough Medal is presented annually to a geologist whose original work has materially increased the knowledge of the geology of Scotland and/or the North of England, alternatively someone who is Scottish and has significantly advanced the knowledge of any aspect of geology. Find out more about Charles T Clough.

This year’s recipient is Dr Tim Dempster from the University of Glasgow School of Geographical & Earth Sciences in recognition of the exceptional contributions he has made to advancing the understanding of the geology of Scotland, particularly the metamorphic geology of the Highlands, where he has employed a wide range of technologies to better understand the processes; and his work as a dedicated and popular teacher of undergraduate students, using the Highlands of Scotland as a ‘natural laboratory’.

In this joint lecture with the Geological Society of Glasgow Dr Dempster talked about garnets, the workhorse of metamorphic petrologists.

Being capable of recording original compositions during growth, garnets allow determination of pressure-temperature paths and durations of metamorphic events.

Concentrating on the contact zone between the garnet and its surrounding minerals, a 3D image of the garnet rather than a thin section – which would offer too small an area for clear analysis – was created. Then the team projected a ‘map’ of the adjacent minerals on the garnet’s surface and variations in its chemistry, e.g. the Calcium content, were recorded.

This way of analysing the garnet showed that the crystal’s growth itself can change the chemistry of the surrounding matrix and hence the reaction path during growth, leading to a ‘false’ temperature recording. Dr Dempster’s studies of garnets from the Scottish Highlands therefore question some key concepts of metamorphic equilibrium.

Background reading: Dempster, T. J., La Piazza, J., Taylor, A. G., Beaudoin, N. and Chung, P. (2017) Chemical and textural equilibration of garnet during amphibolitefacies metamorphism: The influence of coupled dissolution-reprecipitation. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 35, 1111-1130.

Central Scotland Regional Group of the Geological Society

The Central Scotland Regional Group of the Geological Society organises regular events at various locations in Glasgow and Edinburgh. All event details are available on their web page. Meetings generally start at 6:15pm with tea and coffee from 5:30pm. All welcome.

The next event is a lecture by Mark Hudson on Sub-surface Laser Scanning, Multi Beam Sonar Surveys & Void Surveys
Date: 12 February 2019
Venue: Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

Mark Hudson presents on recent developments in sub-surface scanning and void surveys including ongoing research and development in the area, Mark will draw on his many years of experience in investigation of underground voids with numerous case studies from the UK.

Should you have missed or are not able to attend one of the CSRG events, presentations can be found on the past meeting resources webpage or their YouTube channel.

Evidence of a large explosive silicic eruption on Skye

An article recently published in Nature Communications has suggested a connection between the Sgúrr of Eigg and a distant rocky outcrop Òigh-sgeir, with a major volcanic eruption on the island of Skye and a significant climate event 55 million years ago, the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

Valentine R. Troll et al compared mineralogy and isotope geochemistry of the pitchstone on Eigg and Òigh-sgeir, and the results suggest that the two outcrops represent a single, pyroclastic deposit. Prior to this study, David Brown and Brian Bell (in a paper published in 2013) had suggested a connection between the outcrops and an volcanic eruption on Skye – the new paper confirms these results and proposes a connection with the PETM.

The magnitude of the Skye volcanic eruption was estimated to 3.9- 15 km3 DRE (dense-rock equivalent) and a 5-6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index scale, which compares with historical examples such as the 1991 Pinatubo eruption ( ~ 5 km3 DRE). The results imply that large-scale explosive silicic eruptions have likely been common during the opening of the North Atlantic. This paints a more violent picture of the rift to drift transition of the North-Atlantic region between 61 and 56 million years ago than previously assumed.

Source and run-out distances of the proposed Skye volcanic event, Troll et al. 2019

You can read more about the Sgúrr of Eigg and different ideas proposed in the past to explain its formation by some of Scotland’s well-known geologists (including Hugh Miller and Archibald Geikie) in the Geology of Eigg (2016), by John D Hudson, Angus D Miller and Ann Allwright, published by the Edinburgh Geological Society.

Valentin R. Troll, C. Henry Emeleus, Graeme R. Nicoll, Tobias Mattsson, Robert M. Ellam, Colin H. Donaldson & Chris Harris: “A large explosive silicic eruption in the British Palaeogene Igneous Province”. Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 494 (2019) Published in Nature

A summary of the article was included in the BBC news website

The original article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format. Creative Commons licencing


2018 EGS Public Lecture – What the Ice Age ever do for us?

At this time of year, its good to reflect on our successes as a Geological Society. This year we held our 2018 Public Lecture event at Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh on 21st November 2018. The event attracted around 150 people of all ages. Our topic was the Ice Age and we heard from three excellent speakers – Prof Emrys Phillips and Dr Carol Cotterill (both BGS Scotland) and Dr Tom Bradwell (University of Stirling). This event was our 2nd major public lecture in recent years

Landscape and the human psyche – by Dr Carol Cotterill

During the interval at this event, a rolling slide show was presented giving an artistic interpretation of the landscape.  The work was put together by one of the speakers, Dr Carol Cotterill.  We thought that people may not have had a chance to view this in full and so a pdf download is now available.  Please note that the contents are copyrighted to Dr Cotterill, we would therefore encourage anyone who wants to make use of the material to contact Carol directly.

Thanks again to all who contributed to this year’s successful 2018 Public Lecture.

Secrets of the Philosophers’ Stone unveiled by Physicians’ College

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is revealing the secrets to finding the Philosophers’ Stone, as part of its new public exhibition – Searching for the Elixir of Life: The mysteries and legacies of Alchemy – which looks at the ancient tradition of alchemy that stretches back thousands of years and was a mysterious early version of science and spiritualism. This is the first time in 337 years that the college’s fascinating collection of alchemical books and manuscripts has been put on public exhibition. The display will include the College’s Ripley Scroll – one of only 23 surviving copies anywhere in the world, and the only one in Scotland. The scroll uses symbols and illustrations to reveal the steps needed to create the Philosophers’ Stone.

The exhibition is free to attend and open to the public from 10am-4.30pm Monday to Friday, until summer 2019, at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ.

Further information about the exhibition on the Royal College website.

Obituaries of Society members

Did you know that the Edinburgh Geological Society publishes obituaries of members in our Annual Reports? Annual Reports from 2006 are available as pdf downloads here. The obituaries of significant figures in the Scottish geological community and the Edinburgh Geological Society are also published on our obituaries page. We’ve just added a lovely obituary to Henry Emeleus, who died in 2017.

By Kim Traynor - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Vote Geology – Update

Prof Robert Jameson (1774-1854)

The results of the voting for the National Library of Scotland’s conservation project #Rescueme closed on the 8th September. Three objects in need of conservation treatment were displayed in the Library, and the public cast votes in person and online for their favourite (Ref. Vote Geology). In total 253 votes were cast, and the clear winner with 112 votes was the pair of geological maps produced by Prof Robert Jameson (Professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in the 19th Century). These 150 year old maps will now be conserved by one of Library’s conservators, Shona Hunter, and the treatment will be showcased through a series of blogs, tweets and short films, before the completed maps go back on display at the Library later this year. Thank you to everyone who voted geology!

We will continue to follow the story in subsequent news items.


Evening Lecture Season Kicks-off

First EGS lecture in the newly refurbished Hutton Lecture Theatre, University of Edinburgh

The 2018-19 Evening Lecture Season started on Wednesday 10th October at the newly refurbished Hutton Lecture Theatre, Grant Institute of Geology at the University of Edinburgh.  A large audience came together to hear Professor Roy Thompson (University of Edinburgh) talking about Scotland’s Energy Trilemma.  The talk ranged across a range of energy sources, always with a neat geological/geophysical angle, climate change and the environment.  Prof Thompson richly entertained his audience with the latest news on the subject and ensured that we all went away better informed for the future. He has published a blog post about his lecture, including a downloadable pdf of his slides, at

The lecture set a high standard for forthcoming lectures, the next one of which will be held on the Wednesday 24th October (7.30pm) when Dr Graham Leslie (BGS) will speak on What place for world class geology in future Singapore.

Finally, a reminder of EGS’s Workshop on North West Highlands Geopark to be held at the Methodist Centre at 25 Nicholson Square, EH8 9BX on Saturday 27th October 2018 between 11am and 3pm.  Tickets to be purchased in advance, from