George Burden (Canada) The rickety taxi bumped and rattled its way southward, into the scenic peaks of the Dominican Republic’s northern cordillera. Frequent washouts from seasonal torrential rains make the going tricky and, at times, even a little perilous. However, we finally arrived at a small community, the site of … Read More
Megan Jacobs (UK) The history of geosciencein the UK is heavily dominated by men, with eminent figures such as Sir Richard Owen, Charles Lyell, William Buckland and Gideon Mantell famed for making many big advances in the early days of the science. However, in the background were powerful and intelligent women, leading, directing, guiding, even pushing their husbands with hard work. Tenacity and dedication to the subject and, presumably devotion and loyalty to their respective spouses. Ultimately, a small army of behind-the-scenes women advanced the science by leaps and bounds, such that, by the end of the nineteenth century, they had laid the foundations for women to move from the peripheries of academe to its heart. During the 1800s and early 1900s, male scientists often had female assistants, whose research and findings were included in the lead scientists’ work. However, as the women themselves were not labelled as scientists, they did not receive the acknowledgement or credit they rightly deserved. It has been said that some women published scientific papers using a male pseudonym, allowing for their research to be revealed to the scientific community, without suffering the repercussions of an elitist and blatantly sexist society. In recent years, we have become increasingly more aware of women’s contributions to science and the often-unfair treatment they received from the 1600s, until the last couple of decades. Certainly, the most famous woman in the earth sciencesof the nineteenth century must be Mary Anning. At the time, she went mostly uncredited and faced … Read More
Alister Cruickshanks (UK) The discoveries made by Spirit, one of two exploration robots that NASA sent to Mars in 2003, have shown that it is more than likely that the planet once had oceans, lakes and rivers, and that water could still exist at the poles and in deep craters, … Read More
This book has something of an aspirational, rather than practical, feel to it. However, there is no doubt – in my mind anyway – that it is the best book on the geology of the Himalaya I have read. It is written with a nice light touch, with some humour. And it covers far more than just geology – where appropriate, it includes history, especially about the exploration of the subcontinent, and Asian culture.
Alister Cruickshanks (UK) In this second part of my article, I continue to follow the journey of Spirit, one of NASA’s twin exploration robots, in its exploration of the geological features of Mars up to its present position. The opportunity for the robot to explore has been curtailed during the … Read More
Rutile is a metallic-grey to earthy-red, brown, violet or black mineral, largely composed of titanium dioxide (TiO2). It is the most naturally occurring form of this particle and has among the highest refractive indices of any known mineral. It also has a hardness rating of 5.5 to 6.5. Apart from … Read More
I never realised just how diverse the rocks of this – the smallest of the Channel Islands – is. They are clearly well exposed and easily seen along the coast (and the cliffs are wonderful to look at). The guide also points out that the island’s rocks provide the best opportunity to see intrusive, igneous suites of the Cadomian orogeny (a tectonic event or series of events in the late Neoproterozoic, about 650 to 550 million years ago),and the lower Cambrian fluvial strata associated with post-Cadomian sedimentation. And I know from personal experience that each of the walks will be a delight, as the island is phenomenally beautiful.
Alister Cruickshanks (UK) It is perhaps one of the most exciting explorations in recent years – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers have changed our views of the red planet and re-written textbooks. In the past, researching and mapping the geology of Mars has seemed something that geologists could only dream of … Read More
Recently, I have finished the Great Silurian Controversy, a magnificent book about the nineteenth century arguments over the age of the lower Palaeozoic greywackes/sediments of Devon, and the creation of the concept of the Devonian. And reading The Lewisian: Britain’s oldest rocks by Graham Park, perhaps it occurs to me that this should perhaps be called, The Great Lewisian Controversy. It shares the same historical and scientific intentions, and the same grand sweep of scientific history from the early twentieth century, namely, the exploration over decades of the geology of the Lewisian of northwest Scotland.
Jon Trevelyan (UK) One rainy afternoon in March, rather than getting wet collecting fossils near Radstock, I abandoned my plans and paid a brief visit to the Wells & Mendip Museum in Somerset. It is not a geology museum, but it does have some great geological exhibitions. The museum (Fig. … Read More
Allen Fraser (UK) Shetland is a spectacular group of islands with a varied geology, a wonderful landscape and a special flora and fauna, peopled by a culture distinct within the British Isles. Shetland remains one of Britain’s natural treasures.” (J. Laughton Johnston) The islands Shetland sits on the edge of … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) Mohansinh Sodha (Fig. 1) is the founder of the Kutch Fossil Park located in Kutch, in the state of Gujarat in India. The park exhibits invertebrates, including ammonites, belemnites, nautilus (Fig. 2), brachiopods, gastropods (Fig. 3), corals (Fig. 4) and echinoderms. Marine fossils, including brachiopods and echinoderms, … Read More
Jon Trevelyan(UK) Contained in what was once the Radstock Market Hall (Fig. 1), this is perhaps one of my favourite local museums. Maybe it is because the museum is close to wonderful relics of the Somerset coal industry and to the Upper Carboniferous plant fossils that were a waste product. … Read More
Kaolinite is a clay mineral, first described in 1867 for its occurrence in the Jari River basin, Brazil. It is very common and is extensively mined in the UK, France, Brazil, Australia, India, Korea, USA and China. The mineral is mined under the name of Kaolin, but is more commonly … Read More
Deborah Painter (USA) Plant fossils come in a wider variety than this author used to believe. This article will discuss some of the different ways that plant fossils are preserved. Casts The fossil in Figs. 1 and 2 is a cast of Stigmaria. It is comprised of greyish sandstone. Sandy … Read More
Dr Neale Monks Of course, you can enjoy a fun and productive geological field trip using nothing more than your eyes to spot interesting specimens and your hands to collect them. At localities like Sheppey, where fossils are constantly being weathered out of soft clay, you can find shark teeth, … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) The Geology Museum of Ipoh in Malaysia is located inside the premises of the Department of Minerals and Geoscience Malaysia (Fig. 1). The museum is an interesting venue where you canlearn about both the geology and the geosciences of the country. The easy to navigate museum was … Read More
Michael E Howgate One hundred years ago, a grapefruit-sized lump of rock ended its four and a half billion year long journey through space by crashing into a field in northwest Essex. To be more precise, at 1pm on Friday, 9 March 1923, Frederick Pratt, a thatcher and farm labourer, … Read More
Deborah Painter (USA) Tiger’s eye is definitely an unusual semiprecious gem because of a phenomenon called “chatoyancy” seen in only a few minerals and stones. “Chat” is of course the French word for “cat”. The golden bands of polished specimens remind one of a cat’s eye. Chatoyancy refers to the … Read More
This is a charming little book, which describes itself as an “admittedly idiosyncratic compendium of [geological] words and phrases chosen because they are portals into larger stories”. It succeeds brilliantly at its professed goal, combining a great deal of information, education, and a gentle sense of fun, brought out very nicely by some attractive and humorous illustrations.
Raymond Dedeyne and Rik Dillen (Belgium) This is a story in two parts about two fake mineral specimens of a double salt, written by two authors with the same initials… You can find fake mineral specimens all the time at mineral shows, but also on location. A good example is … Read More
Dr Vic Pearson (UK) Every year, thousands of tonnes of dust and rock penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. The fiery passage of these objects produces the familiar ‘shooting star’ phenomenon, known as meteors. Much is destroyed during this descent, but some material is delivered to the Earth’s surface, either as meteorites … Read More
Jon Trevelyan (UK) Kendal Museum is one of those charming, cluttered museums I feared were dying out (Fig. 1), but still seem to defy the odds and continuing surprising visitors. Like the museum in Whitby (see Geology museums of Britain: Whitby Museum, Yorkshire), at Kendal, there seems to be exhibits … Read More
Dr Caroline Buttler (UK) Oxygen is responsible for the majority of chemical reactions that lead to the decay and degradation of museum specimens; the corrosion of iron and the fading of many pigments when exposed to ultraviolet light could not occur without the presence of oxygen. It is also essential … Read More
To be fair, Essex has never been famed or well-regarded for its geology, at least not by me. I know it has its locations – Walton-on-the-Naze springs to mind – but not a lot else. However, this guide is set to change all that. Full colour photographs and illustrations (on virtually every page), with 416 pages of excellent text, with particularly good sections on the London Clay and Red Crag, it is as good as it gets. It is worth owning for its own sake, even if you are not going to, or are living in, Essex.
Jon Trevelyan (UK) This is the second of my articles on the geology museums of Glasgow (see also Geology museums of Britain: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow). The Hunterian contains for some Scotland’s finest collections, covering subjects such as Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall (fascinating, given that its … Read More
Jon Trevelyan (UK) When I went up to Glasgow to attend my son’s graduation, I deliberately made some time to visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to explore its 22 galleries. These cover everything from art to animals, Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and much, much more besides. However, … Read More
Jon Trevelyan (UK) To no little fanfare, this new museum of natural history (and, in particular, fossils) opened on 13 August 2022. James Hogg, who is Chairman at the Yorkshire Natural History Museum (Fig. 2), only had the idea for it earlier this year. James (Fig. 3) true passion for … Read More
Ian Francis and Bruce Yardley (UK) The violent eruption that occurred near the Pacific island of Tonga in January 2022 reminded the world of the ferocious power of volcanoes. The most destructive eruptions can bury huge areas in layers of ash and lava, generate tsunamis, and even alter the Earth’s … Read More
Khursheed Dinshaw (India) The first time I saw a mud volcano at close range was in Rotorua in New Zealand. I was fascinated – the raw energy of the erupting mud massively appealed to me. Once back home, I read up on mud volcanoes and learnt that, out of the … Read More