That was the year that was – 2009 Part Two

Continuing my photographic review of the year following on from Part 1

July saw the start of working on the Staffordshire Strategic Stone Study which has seen me spend the summer traversing the county looking at various building stones. This has included visits to two quarries that have provided much of Staffordshire’s building stone, Grinshill in Shropshire and Hollington in Staffordshire.

August saw the garden bloom in what little we had of a summer …

… and an evening field trip to Ossum’s Hill to see a new exposure of the bioclastic Carboniferous Limestone.

In September the study of Staffordshire Stone continued. Here is Mow Cop ‘Castle’ (actually a summerhouse) built on the edge of a Chatsworth Grit quarry.

I also visited Ireland for the EAGE Near Surface Geophysics conference and had a visit to the Tara zinc and lead mine.

Returning from Ireland, I spent a weekend in London.

After a day in the city, I spent a day down at Kew Gardens

October saw a visit to the National Arboretum at Westonbirt.

Finally, in November I was involved in some site clearance along the Hamps and Manifold Geotrail.

I’ve still got one major trip to do this month, more details in the New Year.

If you like my photographs have started a photostream that you can see on fluidr or flickr.

I’m also considering a ‘deskcrop365’ project with a new rock picture every day. If it happens then it will most likely appear on flickr and/or posterous.

It just remains for me to thank you for reading in 2009 and I hope to see you again in 2010.
Happy New Year

That was the year that was – 2009 Part One

In a fashion, after Sciencewoman, Tuff Cookie, Callan and Silver Fox, here is the first part of my personal photographic review of 2009.

January came and went, unnoticed. In February I did a guided geological walk for the residents of Maer, Staffordshire and part of the Darwin bicentenary celebrations. Maer was where Charles married his cousin Emma Wedgwood in this church.

February also saw the launch of the Cannock Chase Geotrail that I had worked on extensively in 2008. This is the Glacial Boulder (as opposed to a glacial boulder), turned into a monument.

In March I was part of a field course to Wenlock and Ludlow, classic British geological localities. This is Ludlow Castle from the Whitcliffe section…

… ran a one day field course to the Ercall Quarries in Shropshire, site of the Cambrian/Precambrian unconformity (when life became hard!)…

…I also went down the Ecton copper mine

… and with the weather improving went for a walk in the Manifold Valley. This is the view from Thor’s Cave.

April saw two visits to Pembrokeshire – restore this! …

Ogmore and Southerndown in South Wales (here is the Liassic / Lower Carboniferous unconformity) …

… and also had a brief holiday in Devon (this are feldspar megacrysts in the Dartmoor Granite).

With spring having sprung, May saw a visit to Ashridge, Hertfordshire to see the bluebells.

The second half of the year to follow…


BGS Make-a-map
BGS Make-a-map

Well, it’s about time. The British Geological Survey has been lagging behind its US cousin for some time now. Like the USGS, the BGS is funded by the taxpayer but unlike the American version the data has always been hard to get hold of and expensive. Bits of data have become available slowly as the BGS has gone digital. The 1:625000 scale digital geology map was released through geoindex and the OneGeology global geological mapping portal and this year I’ve been making a lot of use of their on-line rock lexicon, but up until now the 1:50000 digital geology maps have only been available via a paywall to universities or in paper form for the great unwashed.

Today, the BGS released their OpenGeoscience portal, a free service for non-commercial private study, research and educational activities for viewing geological maps, downloading photographs and other information.

There are six OpenGeoscience sections. The Data section covers parts that we’ve had access to previously like the geoindex graphical front end to the BGS’s data holdings such as maps, boreholes, earthquakes and the like, the lexicon of terms used on BGS maps, their rock classification scheme and their database of mineral and rock samples. The education section also links to stuff we have had before – notably ‘Make-A-Map’ for creating basic geological maps of the British Isles. They also (somewhat bravely) provide a link to their new climate change poster which shows that climate change is nothing new and puts into context the current fluctuations with respect to those over geological time.

The maps section provides three ‘views’. The first, a ‘simple’ view allows a zoomable view down to street level with the 1:50000 geological map (where available – not Northern Ireland yet) as an overlay. The geology layer, the transparency of which is variable with a slider control, is a vast improvement on what was previously available to the general public. However, the street map is several years out of date and the satellite view is quite poor resolution. Their ‘intermediate’ view is actually the 1:625000 geology kml layer for Google Earth that has been available through OneGeology for some time and which I blogged about previously here back in August last year. The ‘advanced’ data allows users to down load the 1:625000 data in in ESRI© and MapInfo© formats and also view the 1:50000 data using their Web Map Service.

As an educator, however, the best part for me is GeoScenic, the browsable collection of the BGS’s photographs. I can see this being really useful for examples in lectures.

Finally, and really something quite interesting, is a downloadable version of BGS·SIGMAmobile, the BGS ‘digital field data capture system’ (geological field notebook connected to a database) designed to run on a rugged tablet PC with integrated GPS units. Effectively this is a heavily customised versions of ArcMap 9.2 and MS Access 2003 and is something I’m going to be trying out in the near future.

All in all, it is good to have everything together in one portal, but much is not new and still lags behind what is accessible for the US.