Columnar Jointing Meme : Iceland

Coat of Arms of Iceland - source Wikipedia
Since there is a current meme in the geoblogosphere on columnar jointing I’m going to have to join in and add an image from a country that actually has a piece of columnar jointing incorporated in its coat of arms – Iceland. In case you are wondering, it is the plate that the shield rests on.

This columnar jointing is from the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park in the north of Iceland. It shows that columns do not have to be parallel, just perpendicular to the cooling surfaces, in this case lava tubes.

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…

Fully Equipped Geologist

igs fully equiped

The “fully equipped geologist” meme is the latest sweeping the geoblogosphere, started by Geotripper,with follow ups so far from Johannes Lochmann, Kim Hannula, and Silver Fox.

The above photo is typical autumn/spring wear. Note the inherent lack of trust in modern gps technology and the back-up folded ordnance survey map.

Hair: Cut short, I just get annoyed when it gets too long.

Sunburned Peeling Nose: Has been known, and burnt top of the ears as hair is short. Hence I prefer to wear the bush hat, keeping sun off nose, ears and back of the neck. I’m not one for wearing sun cream but do tend to cover up.

Beard: I like to call it ‘designer stubble’. Gets trimmed when gets to the itchy stage but I don’t like clean shaven any more.

keele geology logo
T-shirt and Logo: Tend only to wear t-shirts as a base layer unless very hot. Favourite one is a Keele Geology Society one from years ago that has the “Geologists like a nappe between thrusts” strapline on the back. The fleece in the above image has the Keele GeoSoc logo (just behind the GPS). I tend to wear long sleeved shirts in the field but with the cuffs rolled up.

Vest: I often wear what Americans call a vest (in the UK a vest is an undergarment – see pants). It is from a visit to South Africa and the pockets are loaded with stuff particularly when running field courses. When cooler will wear a fleece, see above. For some reason I hate to have my lower arms covered. I’ll only have the sleeves down when my hands turn purple from the cold and gloves are needed as well. I’ll also only wear waterproofs when it is really wet, the bush hat and fleece will do in most weathers for me. I also have high visibility jacket / vest for work on roadsides and in quarries.

Things in the Vest: The jacket pockets contain compass-clinometer, pencils, pens, eraser, chalk (very useful for drawing on outcrops and will wash off in the next rain), mobile phone, notebook, handlens, grainsize chart, whistle (for attracting students attention), lighter and cigars (I only smoke in the field). When not working, the jacket may also contain a hip flask with a wee dram or two of the scottish nectar. The GPS may also be clipped to the jacket if not wearing a back pack.

Belt and Buckle: Tends to be a nylon belt with plastic clip buckle. Mainly used for supporting camera bag if not carrying large rucksack. Will use a leather belt for hammer if not carrying rucksack or camera tripod is in ice axe holder.

Pockets: Keys, wallet, handkerchief, comb, penknives, loose change. I tend to wear cargo trousers in the field and carry marker pens in the side pockets.

Rock Hammer: Faithful old 2.5 pound Whitehouse hammer I have had for nearly thirty years, since I was an undergraduate.

Hands: Map case. Maps, field guide, A3 paper for drawing explanatory diagrams and the A3 plywood mapping board I’ve also had since an undergraduate. If I’m using a large notebook this goes in here too.

Legs: Like Johannes and Silver Fox I don’t wear shorts in the field. Too much risk from thorn bushes, sunburn and biting things.

Pants: As with vests, in the UK pants are undergarments. My field trousers are typically cargos, the extra pockets on the legs are useful for marker pens and / or field notebook. I do have a pair where the bottom sections can be unzipped but I can’t see me using this facility.

Shoelaces: Sometimes knotted, and typically burnt at the ends with my lighter to stop the fraying.

Socks: Thin socks under thick walking socks. This prevents blistering as slippage is between sock layers rather than sock and foot.

Boots: Choice of three, heavy duty for winter, lightweight for spring, and ultra-lightweight fell-running boots for summer. The first two pairs have ankle support as have sprained my ankles too many times in the field.

Ironclad Bladders: Almost mandatory. I tend not to drink much in the field (the platypus water system in the photo is largely for sipping unless very hot. I also tend not to eat in the field. Cigars are an appetite suppressant. Students often have to remind me to stop for lunch as I don’t have any. If I do take sandwiches then they are eaten by 10am.

Brunton Compass: We tend to use Silva/Sunnitos rather than Bruntons this side of the pond.

Eyes: Sunglasses are rarely worn, but we do get sunshine sometimes in the UK. Obviously safety goggles when hammering.

Brain: Alert. The field is my favourite place to work. Might start to wander slightly after the pubs open.

Hat: Depending on the weather / time of year / country either go bare headed (but thinning hair leaves one susceptible to sunburn), favourite South African bush hat (above) when sunny, Irish flat cap when cold or baseball cap as last resort when windy.

Backpack: I usually start off a field course with a full backpack with first aid kit, waterproof jacket and trousers, gloves, camera equipment, platypus water pouch and what ever else I think might come in useful. By the end of the field course I just carry what ever I can fit in my pockets and mapcase (which is surprisingly quite a lot). I also now have a Lowenpro backpack just for my camera gear. The bottom section takes my Canon 5D & lenses, batteries and data cards, the top section takes my G10 plus gigapan robotic mount. The outside has strapping for a tripod and just enough room for a water bottle.